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Pump the Brakes on That Barstool Sports-MLB Collaboration

Ben Bowman

Earlier this month, the New York Post reported Barstool Sports and Major League Baseball have had significant talks about the media company broadcasting the league’s midweek games. “MLB and Barstool potentially could team up to create a new type of broadcast with a focus on in-game gambling,” Andrew Marchand wrote. “The talks have started recently, and while they have picked up steam, an agreement is not yet a certainty. One source deemed it ‘50-50.’”

Today, we need to revise those odds lower.

In an interview with WEEI in Boston, Barstool boss Dave Portnoy says he thinks there’s a chance for a collaboration, “but there’s still a long way to go.” In fact, Portnoy put the chance closer to 10 percent. “I’d be stunned if it still happens,” Portnoy said. “Major League Baseball, which is traditionally conservative, would have to be like, ‘Yep, we know we’re going to get some complaints, but we’re OK with it.’”

Sports media reporter A.J. Perez quoted two sources who said the league never seriously considered a partnership with Barstool.

Portnoy is right that his company has attracted quite a bit of heat in recent years. Portnoy was caught on a recording saying a 20-year-old employee would be too ugly to be on-camera in five years. Barstool has repeatedly faced accusations of a toxic, misogynistic workplace. Portnoy has also refused to apologize for rape jokes.

With such a checkered past, it’s understandable any major sports league or media property might be hesitant to move forward with a partnership. Still, Rush Limbaugh was once hired as a Sunday Night Football commentator, so these things do have a precedent.

Barstool is already set to sponsor and broadcast college football’s Arizona Bowl, taking the traditional broadcast rights away from CBS. The bowl is slated for December 31 and will include teams from the Mountain West Conference and the Mid-Atlantic Conference.

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