Awfulies for Best Sports Insider

This week, we’re celebrating the highs, the lows, the best, and the worst of the year with The Awfulies. We introduced our end-of-year awards last year, and we’ve expanded the categories even further this time, with the entire Awful Announcing staff voting for who they think should take e home the coveted golden microphone. Keep an eye on category and winner reveals all week long. And be sure to let us know who your pick would have been for the winners.

It’s time to introduce our winners for the next round of categories, the sports media insider of 2023 and conversely, the sports media “outsider” of 2023.

Sports Media Insider of 2023

Ah, the sports media insider. Can’t live with’m, can’t live without’m (we’re told). Most of the time, they’re the fundamental building block on which all sports news is seemingly built. Folks like Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Shams Charania can make an entire news cycle based on one tweet. The power and influence that they wield can come at a cost, but ESPN, Fox Sports, and many other companies have decided they’re worth the excessive effort. It’s not a job for everyone (and frankly, that might be true even of the people who do it) but those who succeed command a ton of respect and, perhaps even more importantly, social media followers.

When the AA Staff looked back on the sports media insiders who did the best work of 2023, we namechecked several high-performing reporters, including Woj, Schefter, Dianna Russini, Jeff Passan, Ross Dellenger, and Alan Shipnuck. However, one insider excelled far above the rest, garnering a significant percentage of the vote for the victory.

Winner: Jeff Passan

Passan emerged from a field that includes ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, MLB’s Ken Rosenthal, and NBA insider Shams Charania, among others. Those are some of the biggest and most recognizable names in the sports media world. All of them have had their hands in breaking some of the year’s biggest stories.  

So, why Passan? Passan was at the forefront of some of MLB’s most significant news this year. That includes Manny Machado’s extension with the San Diego Padres and Carlos Correa’s deal with the Minnesota Twins. Also, Passan broke the story on MLBPA and MLB’s first minor league CBA. 

Passan also had an eventful moment of his own. Passan injured his back in a freak accident. Luckily, he seems to be still doing okay despite a fractured vertebra (and it hasn’t stopped him from breaking big stories). 

While Passan didn’t break the Shohei Ohtani acquisition or the Juan Soto trade, he still was at the center of some of the sport’s most significant transactions this season. Unlike some of his other colleagues, Passan didn’t find ways to make you raise your eyebrow at them. There’s something to be said for that. He posts on X frequently, but his posts are mostly innocuous when they aren’t about what MLB teams are doing. He’s also got a pretty good sense of humor

Congrats to Jeff Passan, your Insider of the Year (for two years running). – Chris Novak

Sports Media Outsider of 2023

As we noted above, part of what makes Passan a great insider is that he sticks to what he’s good at and doesn’t bring any undue attention his way. That can’t be said for some of his colleagues, some of whom have a way of making themselves the story instead of whatever they’re covering (we’re looking at you, Adam Schefter).

In terms of which insider found themselves in the role of “outsider” this year, the AA Staff nominated NFL insider Schefter, NFL free-thinker Aaron Rodgers (he certainly seems to think he knows everything), NBA insider Shams Charania, and MLB insider Jon Morosi. But which insider had the worst 2023?

Winner: Tie – Shams Charania, Jon Morosi

It seemed like Charania had this one locked up until a couple of weeks ago. While the wunderkind had his fair share of scoops, he also made a few unforced errors that stood out. There was perhaps no incident more notable than his infamous Scoot Henderson tweet, which sent betting lines flying and was ultimately proven to be worth nothing, leaving many to wonder if Charania had been influenced to report untrue information to swing gambling odds (there is no proof of that, but speculation certainly ran rampant).

Beyond that, Shams took heat over the way he framed Meyers Leonard’s NBA absence before eventually adding context. He took a lot of flak when Woj beat him on the James Harden trade scoop by a whopping 39 minutes, an eternity in their world. And of course, there was Shams’ tweet that that the Portland Trail Blazers were sending Damian Lillard to the Toronto Raptors, which he was incorrect on (and Woj beat him on again).

While we still think Shams vs. Woj will make for a great TV miniseries one day, this wasn’t a year that Charania would want to be highlighted.

As for Morosi, the MLB Network reporter wasn’t even on this award’s radar until December 8 when he tweeted that “Shohei Ohtani is en route to Toronto today,” seemingly breaking the bombshell news that the superstar was going to sign with the Blue Jays. While the baseball world lost its mind, Morosi’s report was met with resistance from his colleagues. It soon became clear that he was wrong and Ohtani was still in California. A few days later, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

To his credit, the insider apologized for his “inaccurate information” but the incident was a microcosm of a wild free-agency session where MLB’s insiders didn’t put their best feet forward. Unlike others who have made errors in judgment (cough cough Schefter cough cough), Morosi has continued to be forthright about his mistake and talk about the fallout. Credit is due, and we don’t expect to see him back here in 2024.

That said, if sports media insiders could stop trying to destroy the souls of Toronto sports fans, that would be nice. – Sean Keeley

Check out all of the 2023 Awfulies winners here