Mike Pesca

Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent  for NPR based in New York City.

Pesca enjoys training his microphone on anything that occurs at a track, arena, stadium, park, fronton, velodrome or air strip (i.e. the plane drag during the World's Strongest Man competition). He has reported from Los Angeles, Cleveland and Gary. He has also interviewed former Los Angeles Ram Cleveland Gary. Pesca is a panelist on the weekly Slate podcast “Hang up and Listen”.

In 1997, Pesca began his work in radio as a producer at WNYC. He worked on the NPR and WNYC program On The Media. Later he became the New York correspondent for NPR's midday newsmagazine Day to Day, a job that has brought him to the campaign trail, political conventions, hurricane zones and the Manolo Blahnik shoe sale. Pesca was the first NPR reporter to have his own podcast, a weekly look at gambling cleverly titled “On Gambling with Mike Pesca.”

Pesca, whose writing has appeared in Slate and The Washington Post, is the winner of two Edward R. Murrow awards for radio reporting and, in1993, was named Emory University Softball Official of the Year.

He lives in Manhattan with his wife Robin, sons Milo and Emmett and their dog Rumsfeld. A believer in full disclosure, Pesca rates his favorite teams as the Jets, Mets, St. Johns Red Storm and Knicks, teams he has covered fairly and without favor despite the fact that they have given him a combined one championship during his lifetime as a fully cognizant human.

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The Torch
12:04 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

The Olympic Art Of Shushing: Who Decides When Fans Can Be Noisy?

Fans make some noise as they watch Olympic women's beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade in London. There seems to be little consistency in which sports require quiet from spectators.
Julian Finney Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 2:25 pm

There seems to be a vague logic that dictates which Olympic sports are conducted against a backdrop of noise, and which operate in a cone of silence.

For the most part, the more a sport depends on a fine motor skill, the quieter the spectators are meant to be. Shooters squeeze triggers before mostly hushed crowds. But in many shooting disciplines, the competitors line up in a group and can shoot at any point during their time allotment. So not only is gunfire ringing in their ears, crowds often become noisy, depending on the results.

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The Torch
9:19 am
Sun August 5, 2012

Britain's Wiggins Starts A Row By Arguing For Bike Helmets

Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain before a road race on Day 1 of the Olympics.
Bryn Lennon Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 4:00 pm

On the same day cyclist Bradley Wiggins became Great Britain's most-decorated Olympian, Daniel Harris, a 28-year-old cycling enthusiast, was killed when he was struck by a bus at an intersection outside Olympic Park.

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The Torch
11:04 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Badminton's 'Detrimental' Conduct Rule, And Losing On Purpose

The Badminton Eight: That's the media's new nickname for the Olympic athletes disqualified Wednesday in a match-fixing scandal at the London Games. They are, from top left: South Korea's Kim Ha Na, Ha Jung-Eun, Kim Min-Jung and Jung Kyung-Eun. Bottom: Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari, and China's Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 1:08 pm

Eight Olympic badminton athletes have been thrown out of the London Games after being charged by the Badminton World Federation with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" — which is against the rules of the sport. Because even some journalists may have forgotten badminton's rules, it seemed time to take a fresh look.

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The Torch
11:28 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Overturned Judo Result Called A 'Farce' And Parody

A judo judge waves a blue flag to award victory to South Korea's Cho Jun-Ho Sunday. But moments later, judges raised white flags instead, giving the win to Masashi Ebinuma of Japan.
Franck Fife AFP/Getty Images

Judo is a sport of leverage, strength, tactics and cunning. These attributes can appear to the uninitiated to be two people attempting to grab each other, without success, for five minutes. And then when no points are scored, they try to grab each other for another three minutes of overtime.

One of these gripping contests — the men's quarterfinals at 66 kg — has become the source of international indignation over a perceived injustice. But with the sport of Judo, an apparently firm set of circumstances can flip in an instant.

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Sports
4:11 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

For R.A. Dickey, Knuckleballs Are Personal

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey delivers his signature pitch, with its unusual grip, against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 6. He's the only knuckleballer in the major leagues, and the pitch has earned him a 12-1 record so far this season.
Kathy Willens AP

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 11:32 pm

R.A. Dickey's career as a major league pitcher has been as unpredictable as his signature pitch, the knuckleball.

And on Tuesday night, the New York Mets' 37-year-old phenomenon will hit a new pinnacle: the pitching mound at baseball's All-Star Game.

He won't be starting for the National League — manager Tony La Russa chose Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants for that honor. But the manager says says Dickey will pitch.

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Sports
4:00 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Wildcats Roll To 8th NCAA Title, Coach Calipari's 1st

Anthony Davis of the Kentucky Wildcats puts up a shot over Jeff Withey of the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Division I men's basketball final Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 2:01 pm

The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 Monday night in New Orleans, claiming their eighth NCAA men's basketball title and head coach John Calipari's first.

The Jayhawks trailed by 14 at halftime, and just 5 points separated the teams with about a minute left in the game. But Kansas couldn't get any closer to beating Kentucky, a team stacked with young talent that had dominated the whole tournament.

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Sports
7:09 am
Sun April 1, 2012

Kentucky To Face Kansas In NCAA Title Game

Kansas' Thomas Robinson (0) fights for a rebound with Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas (1) during the second half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday in New Orleans.
Chris Steppig AP

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

The national championship game in men's college basketball is set. The Jayhawks beat Ohio State in a close one and Kentucky got past Louisville.

At the nine-minutes-to-go mark in games one through four of Kentucky's romp through the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats have had leads of 13, 11, 18 and 30 points. So it was significant that the Louisville Cardinals actually found themselves tied with Kentucky at that nine-minute juncture.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Defending Kentucky's Coach Calipari: Not A Tough Assignment

Kentucky coach John Calipari has been criticized as being more of a recruiter than a coach. But that doesn't mean his approach to the game is easy.
Kevin C. Cox Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 31, 2012 3:04 pm

The critique of University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is that he does what it takes to get his players, and they do what they want from there. Sure, this thinking goes, he's yelling at them from the sidelines whenever one — specifically Terrence Jones — puts up a 3-point shot from a step behind the arc. But he's not much of a coach.

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Sports
8:00 am
Sun March 25, 2012

On To The Final Four: Louisville, Ohio State Win

Originally published on Sun March 25, 2012 4:04 pm

Transcript

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

In NCAA men's basketball, the Louisville Cardinals and Ohio State Buckeyes have qualified for the Final Four. Later today, two more teams will join them after Kentucky plays Baylor and Kansas faces North Carolina. With so much basketball peppered with reversals and upsets, it's hard to deny the madness of March. But, as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, most coaches try desperately to keep it at bay.

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Sports
8:00 am
Sat March 24, 2012

Kentucky's 'Not Allowed To Lose' NCAA Tournament

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And coming up, we'll talk about the scandal rocking the NFL. But first, in the NCAA last night: North Carolina needed overtime to put away Ohio. Kansas defeated NC State. Baylor beat Xavier. And Kentucky toppled Indiana 102 to 90. And with that win, the powerhouse Wildcats moved into the elite 8 of the tournament. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

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