Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sports Media Report - Oct. 30th update

A championship level gesture by the Phillies broadcast crew on Wednesday night. Harry Kalas would not normally describe the ninth inning of a Phillies game, but this was certainly not a "normal" game. Back in 1980 when the Phillies won their only previous World Series title, the local broadcasts were not allowed even on radio. This week it was pre-determined that Kalas would step in for the 9th inning of a potential Phillies clincher, and that's exactly what happened.
And thanks to FOX-TV for including the replay of Harry's call before they signed off of their post-game coverage.

It's hard to believe that some might be watching this coming Sunday's (Nov. 2) Colts vs. Patriots game on NBC-TV to see a brand new commercial rather than the matchup. But it could happen. MasterCard will debut its newest spot featuring Colts QB Peyton Manning. After securing rooms at hotels in what could be termed "rival" cities, hotel employees say things to Manning such as "Don't choke on it" when a fruit basket is delivered. Manning appears unphased. Hopefully the game itself will be the talk of the town on Monday, even if the hype is nowhere near what led into what I call "last year's game of the century" matchup.

The new NBA season is underway with a nice jump shot of its own. TNT has already reported a 14% increase in households over last year's opening night doubleheader.

Back on the NFL side, Westwood One has added two more voices to its upcoming radio coverage. Packers' voice Wayne Larrivee will fill in on a couple of Monday Night Football broadcasts, while Hub Arkush has been added as sideline reporter for the upcoming Thursday night series of games. Arkush serves as NFL analyst for Chicago's WSCR The Score after a prior stint on Chicago Bears broadcasts (where he once partnered with Larrivee).

CHICAGO - No word yet from Darin Jackson, who is expected to announce within the next week whether or not he will accept a move from the White Sox TV booth to the radio side. The delay could be (or could have been) Jackson waiting to be certain that Bob Brenly did not get the Milwaukee Brewers manager position. I have to believe Jackson would have applied for that position and tried to jump across town. Jackson, now that he is separated from Ken "Horrible-son" Harrelson (as many White Sox fans refer to him), actually could contribute a lot to a telecast as he showed a few years back on assignments from FOX-TV. Mercifully, a White Sox official has commented that if Jackson does not move to radio that the team will seek another voice to handle at least two innings of play-by-play. Hopefully no more of one voice covering all nine innings, such as Ed Farmer did throughout the past season with Steve Stone as his analyst.

PHILLY: Congrats to Howard Eskin of WIP 610 for winning the March of Dimes Achievement Award In Radio Lifetime Award. He will be honored next week (Nov. 6th) at the Philadelphia Hilton, as will be Phillies voice Chris Wheeler.

SEATTLE - Three cheers for Tyrone Willingham this past Monday night. Not because he was told he will be let go as Head Coach hours earlier, but because he showed up and did his weekly radio show. Not only that, but the show is broadcast live from a restaurant with supporters in the audience. Although for this show Willingham did not take questions from fans as he has previously, you have to give him a ton of credit for honoring his commitment under those circumstances.

St. LOUIS - WMVN 101.1 has added another sports update anchor to its upcoming all-sports lineup to begin at the start of 2009. It's a familiar voice in the market, as Chris Gardner will make the switch from soon-to-be rival KFNS.

PHOENIX - Diamondback's TV voice Daron Sutton is expanding his presence in the market, having been added as play-by-play voice for University of Arizona basketball on Fox Sports Arizona starting next month. FSN is only scheduled to carry six games for this season, allowing Sutton to continue handling Wisconsin-Milwaukee basketball telecasts in Milwaukee. Sutton has also handled some SEC hoops in past seasons.

MIAMI - The local sports talk ratings wars remain close through the recently released summer book. WAXY 790 finished 8th overall cmpared with WQAM at 12th. Yet, WQAM with Joe Rose finished ahead of 790's Sid Rosenberg in the morning during the hours the two are head-to-head. Some wonder whether 790 carrying the Marlins broadcasts had a positive or negative impact based on the Marlins' disappointing season, while WQAM's Dolphins show from 7:00 to 8:00 PM showed a significant increase.

SAN FRANCISCO - If you plan on watching Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet you'll need to wait until game time. The team and the Network continue their feud, and once again the fans lose out. As of now, no pre or post-game shows are scheduled. Usually, the cable telecasts are the ones that feature the expanded coverage, such as with Comcasts coverage of the Bulls in Chicago and Celtics in Boston. Those regional networks include half hour pregame shows and follow games with extended post-game coverage including coaches press conferences.

KANSAS CITY - As of this week, there are now two fewer voices on KCSP 610 AM than just two weeks ago. Marty Wall, who had been co-hosting afternoons with Neal Jones, has been let go. This comes less than a week after Rhonda Moss was also a "cutback" victim. Jones continues to host afternoons, but no future plans for the show, in terms of solo or co-host, have been disclosed.

LOWELL - UMass fans now have a weekly 90 minute sports radio show each Thursday night from 6:30 to 8:00. "River Hawk Radio" is co-hosted by hockey voice Bob Ellis and UMass Athletic Media Relations Director Chris O'Donnell on WCAP 980. Those beyond the signal range can also hear the show as it streams on

RALEIGH - 99.9 FM The Fan will be adding "Mike & Mike" and Colin Cowherd's morning shows starting the first week in January. While the station claims that the local programming will remain, The Fan also plans to increase play-by-play coverage with ESPN's NBA and MLB radio broadcasts.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A legitimate World Series..........

OK, the 2008 World Series won't go down as the most exciting one ever played. Yet, I personally will remember and appreciate it because of how legitimate it is and how both teams got there fair and square. Not always the case in sports these days.

In all sports, the post-season has too many teams. I always have and always will believe that a team should have to "win to win". This business where a second or third place team can go on to win the championship demeans the regular seasons.

Having said that, it brings to mind the beauty of this year. Both teams in the World Series won their respective Eastern Division. Even though both had to beat the "Wild Card" team which, in my opinion, had no business being in the post-season, the Phillies and Rays each defeated one other Division winner. That is as fair as it gets.

In addition, we are fortunate because the abomination known as "interleague play" during June did not allow the opportunity for the Phillies and Rays to have already played each other. That adds still more legitimacy to this year's World Series.

Not only did both teams take equal steps to get to the Series, but there is no regular season matchup to go by, and that is as it should be.

Before you start questioning me on this, look back at recent years.

The 2007 Series included the Colorado Rockies, who technically did not win their Division. In fact, their finishing 1/2 game back deprived us fans of at least 1 "win or go home" game to finish up the regular season. (And we saw the added excitement in 2008 with the White Sox literally playing 4 American League teams out of 4 consecutive games to win the A.L. Central and then get into the ALDS vs. Tampa Bay.)

In 2006, it was Detroit which finished in second place. While some fans complain about the Cardinals winning only 83 games that season, they should have been complaining because the Cardinals won it all by beating a team that folded down the stretch and failed to win its division.

In 2005, Houston did not win its division, and it showed as they were swept by the White Sox, who led wire-to-wire that season.

And on it goes.

Please. If we are not going to remember this 2008 World Series for in-game excitement, let's remember it for being legitimate. That's a winner in my book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sports Media Update - October 22

This past Sunday night (Oct. 19) was a history making night for sports broadcasting, especially from a Tampa perspective. To the best of my knowledge (even after some precautionary research), it was the first time that two sports events from the Tampa area were up against each other on national TV. While the Rays were playing their clinching Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston in St. Pete on TBS, across the bay NBC-TV was showing the Buccaneers football game against Seattle.

Having two local teams on national TV happens in places such as NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit, among others from time to time. But not before in the Tampa area. NBC-TV probably wishes it didn't happen. Their Sunday Night Football telecast finished among the lowest rated ever for a prime time telecast, while TBS set cable viewing records on the baseball side.

NEW YORK - As expected, WFAN 660 will continue as the flagship station of Mets broadcasts. It is curious that financial terms were not disclosed, leaving us to guess that this will be some sort of revenue share for the team and the station.

As part of this new deal, which brings WFAN's Mets coverage into its 23rd season, WFAN will produce additional Mets related programming including daily highlights (in season), and also have these programs available via along with the HD3 channel at 92.3 FM. The HD channel is a wonderful addition, and something I have been pushing for from sports stations for months. Extensive coverage of one team and its games is the type of niche programming which could actually make HD Radio worthwhile.

Further down the dial, congrats to Yankees TV voice Michael Kay on his three year contract extension continuing his afternoon show on WEPN 1050. Kay has handled afternoons since 2005 and has been with WEPN since 2001.

ATLANTA - It feels like the Atlanta Braves have moved to Atlanta and become the Braves. The days of Ted Turner, most games on TBS, Fulton County Stadium, and the same broadcasters year after year are now officially long gone.

Pete Van Wieren has retired after 33 seasons of Braves play-by-play on both TV and radio. Although his laid back style was not a hit with younger fans used to the pumped up style of many of today's announcers, he was consistent and accurate. With the possible exception of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett with the Dodgers, I can't recall a pair of announcers with one team longer than Van Wieren and Skip Caray, whose passing earlier this year also signals this overhaul of the Braves we used to know.

Like with Skip Caray, Van Wieren also reported for CNN and handled football play-by-play, including the days of TBS covering Big Ten games, along with Falcons pre-season games.

Now we go into the 2009 season following the retirements of two 30+ year play-by-play voices with the same team, as this announcement follows the retirement announcement of Lanny Frattare from the Pirates radio booth made just a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, on the incoming side, Fox SportSouth has hired former Hawk Mike Glenn as its pre and post-game analyst staring next week for the network's scheduled 75 Hawks telecasts. Dominique Wilkins moves from the post-game show role into his new role as game analyst.

SAN FRANCISCO - Think of it as scheduled sportscasts on FM. With classic hits KFRC 106.9 FM again going into oblivion and all-news KCBS-AM being simulcast on 106.9 (as of this week), it means that the KCBS sports updates and sports related programming will also be heard on the FM dial.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area has hired Scott Reiss away from ESPN after eight years. Reiss is already being utilized on the pre and post-game shows of the Warriors and the Sharks.

DALLAS - The latest radio ratings battle of sports stations again goes to The Ticket, which finished second in men aged 25-54 for the summer, more than 40% ahead of ESPN 103.3. Although 103.3 FM had its best summer ratings to date, it finished in 20th place in overall listeners, compared with a 12th place overall finish for The Ticket.

The Metroplex seems to have a definite lack of interest in post-season baseball this month. Through the first five games of the ALCS, reports show that Dallas-Ft. Worth finished dead last in major market ratings. Portland, Charlotte, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque were among the markets with better ratings. And none of those markets has a Major League team.

The National League series on Fox for the Dallas area did not rank in the top 50 national markets either. Ouch.

PHOENIX - While Dallas hasn't been watching post-season baseball, Phoenix, which does have a National League team, will be challenged to hear the ESPN Radio broadcasts of the World Series. KTAR 620 has commitments during the first three games, including their weekly Cardinals show instead of Game 1. A Suns pre-season broadcast pre-empts Game 2, and the Arizona State - Oregon football game will air on Saturday instead of Game 3. As a result, those games, along with possible games 6 and 7 broadcasts will air on KDUS 1060 AM. A Suns pre-season game?

SEATTLE - While I don't know how the October baseball ratings have fared for the Seattle market, I did see the impact of the Mariners losing 100 games this past season. The team's TV ratings on FSN dropped approximately 48% for the yeaer. Let's see what a change of radio stations does for next season's ratings.

PITTSBURGH - Mark Madden is now into his second week back on the air at WXDX 105.9 in the 3 - 6 PM slot. This marks his return since being taken off 1250 ESPN this past May. This show, however, is not completely sports, as pop culture and music have been added to the mix. From what little I have heard and what I have been told, I should say "mixed up" instead. The show does run later on the nights WXDX has a Penguins broadcast starting at or prior to 7:30.

INDIANAPOLIS - WFNI 1070, the former WIBC-AM, tied for 17th place overall in the market's summer ratings period. It is easy to comment that those are nowhere near the old WIBC numbers. Then we realize that the station just went through its first summer, and it is too early to tell. This fall ratings period will be a better indication of WFNI's future, as we have Colts and Indiana University football underway and Pacers season starting next week. Rival WNDE finished 19th overall, and WXLW 950 didn't register.

SAN DIEGO - Dennis Green, the former Vikings and Cardinals NFL coach and Stanford plus Northwestern University coach who handles color for select Westwood One football broadcasts, has a new gig. One he should be proud of. Green now teaches Sports Business Management in San Diego State University's MBA Program, focused on sports management.

LAFAYETTE - If you want to watch Purdue hosting Minnesota in the Big Ten game on October 25th, you need to find it on ESPN Classic instead of the Big Ten Network.

HELENA - Sporting News Radio has suffered over the past year. Now comes word that it has been dropped by KCAP Radio. And not for a format change or even to go with local programming after 3:00 PM and on weekends. KCAP has switched the same time slots over to Fox Radio Sports.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sports Media Report - Oct. 13th update

How times have changed with TV sports coverage. I never thought the time would come when one TV network would acknowledge another sport being shown at the same time on another network.

It happened on Sunday night (Oct. 12) during the Phillies-Dodgers Game 3 telecast of the NLCS. Just as the Sunday Night Football game on rival NBC-TV reached halftime, Fox's Joe Buck did an immediate recap of the baseball game to that point, introducing it by saying "For those of you who have been watching the football game............".

Granted, Fox-TV also has the NFL and was a couple of hours removed from its Sunday doubleheader to most of the country, but a "two-sport" acknowledgement is a huge rarity.

I'm not sure how much audience research will be available or released about how Fox and NBC did during that quarter hour.

Once upon a time, it was a "no-no" to so much as acknowledge another network on the air, let alone a blatant reference to a telecast competing for much of the same audience.

I had no idea that was coming and was stunned. Doing that recap pretty much told viewers who were over at NBC-TV that they didn't need to tune over to check on the NLCS score any earlier.

After all, it has been years and years of networks not addressing an event on a competing network. I highly doubt this was anything that Joe Buck did on his own. Fox had a graphic ready to go to show the recap of key plays and events in the baseball game. Plus, Buck had to be made aware by someone that indeed the NFL game had reached the halftime mark exactly when it did.

Fox had spent its NFL doubleheader promoting the baseball telecast for the night. Obviously, they were out to lure the football fans. Hours later, while the baseball game they were carrying was already somewhat one-sided, they reminded millions of people that another network had an NFL game in progress.

Buck did not give the score of the NFL game. He only "welcomed" those viewers at half time. Say what? Since the baseball game was not close, I would bet that a percentage of viewers tuned over to NBC to see if the NFL game was closer. Maybe Fox overlooked that the San Diego Chargers were playing in the NFL game, while their NLCS game featured the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many fans in Orange County, for example, were then reminded of a choice between two "local" teams.

That could have been a costly announcement in terms of viewers by Fox. They should have known how to handle this. As I see it, here is what they should have done. The game recap still could have started exactly when it did, to coincide with the start of half-time of the competing football telecast.

All Joe Buck should have said was "If you are just now joining us........" and gone on with the recap. By doing so, the large number of football fans tuned to Fox would not have been reminded about another option to watch.

As it is, Fox is required to promote the American League Championship Series telecasts on TBS during its telecasts. In this case, it is required and reciprocal with TBS. But the result is that during this one baseball game, Fox was promoting specific telecasts on TWO other TV networks.

That is a long way from the "check your local listings" approach the networks and stations used to take regarding their competition.

Meanwhile, yet another sportscasting veteran has left us. Gil Stratton passed away last week at the age of 86 in his Los Angeles home located minutes from Universal Studios. A fixture on KNX Radio and KNXT-TV in Los Angeles since the mid-50's, Stratton won the "Golden Mike Award" from the Southern California Broadcasters Association seven different times.

NBA fans who enjoy all of the national TV the league has to offer but do not or no longer enjoy the omnipresent Bill Walton are closer to having it their way for the upcoming season. While Walton has not officially been "replaced", Magic Johnson has been signed to be an NBA studio analyst for ESPN and ABC starting with the upcoming season. Magic leaves TNT after seven seasons in a similar role on their Thursday night and numerous playoff telecasts. This is the exact role which Walton has held for the past few seasons.

Coach Jeff Van Gundy has also signed on with ESPN and ABC to continue as a game analyst for this season and beyond. His new five year deal keeps him on the #1 team with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson.

NEW YORK - Kenny Smith will not return to MSG and Knicks TV this season. Since Gus Johnson continues on the radio side, word is that Gus may have an expanded role to include some MSG coverage now that Smith is gone.

The new NBA season also marks the changing of the guard, as a pair of long long time legends will be reduced or eliminated from the TV booth. In Boston, Bob Cousy was not asked back by Comcast SportsNet at all for this season following his reduced workload last season. In Chicago, Johnny "Red" Kerr, a part of the Bulls franchise since he was their first head coach during their expansion year of 1966-67, will only appear on pre and post-game plus halftime of home games shown on Comcast SportsNet. Both of these legends are nearing 80 years old. Cousy had been a part of Celtics TV for the past 34 seasons.

St. LOUIS - Best wishes to Kelly Chase, radio analyst on the Blues' hockey broadcasts, who is undergoing examination for a lesion on his brain. The 40 year-old Chase was hopeful of continuing on the air until further determinations are made. The St. Louis Post Dispatch also quoted play-by-play voice Chris Kerber as saying he did not notice any difference with Chase during their recent broadcasts going back into the pre-season.

With college hoops about one month away, St. Louis University still has not announced a radio deal for its games. If nothing happens after their season starts, we have to wonder if "Movin' FM" would pick up the broadcasts for after its Jan. 1st debut as the market's latest all-sports station.

KANSAS CITY - While the Royals have become the latest team to announce a ticket price hike for next season, it looks as though the broadcast teams will remain in place for 2009. Bob Davis is expected to be signed to continue in the radio booth along with Denny Matthews and Steve Stewart. Davis made the successful move to radio for this past season when switched with Ryan Lefebvre was moved to TV when FSN began handling the Royals telecasts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sports Media Update - October 8th

TBS did a much better job on their Division Series baseball coverage than its ratings reflect. I found the analysis from Harold Reynolds during the Tampa-Chicago series to be excellent, and am glad to see that Harold will be a part of the upcoming MLB-TV Network to debut the first of the year.

Expectations were high at TBS, especially with both Chicago and Los Angeles teams involved at the time, along with the huge markets Boston and Philadelphia bring to the table.

Some theories blame the late starting time for the games from Los Angeles, while others blame the V.P. debates on the prime viewing Thursday night. While some of that might be true, I find another reason for the reported 20.2% decline in TBS' first round coverage when compared with last year.

The "tradition" of TBS isn't there. TBS blew it again all season this year by not having a consistent start time for all of their Sunday telecasts. True, they do not have the ability to move the starting time of the game they feature, and that hurts. But those fans that even knew TBS had a game on Sunday could tune in at the exact same time each week and not always see a game in progress. Instead they see a movie or comedy with no idea that sports is coming up. I think this carried over the post-season. I'm here to tell you that people tuned into the ESPN and their regional cable channel (such as Fox or Comcast) and when they didn't see baseball, they didn't realize the games were on TBS. When TBS lost the Braves and the Hawks telecasts, they lost their image as a place to go for live sports.

I received several inquiries from friends asking where they could find the games. I'll be curious to see how much Fox dominates TBS in the upcoming League Championship Series ratings. So you don't have to ask, the telecast schedule is among those shown below.

While baseball's teams won't be announcing any personnel matters until after the World Series, some broadcast booths are already in the news. The end of an era in Pittsburgh, again. Not the following that Bob Prince had years ago, but after 33 seasons, Lanny Frattare has decided to retire. His tenure was longer than that of Prince. He reportedly considered reducing to home games only but surprised the Pirates with his decision, coming after more than 5,000 broadcasts. Frattare had been the number one radio voice since Milo Hamilton left Pittsburgh, and that was following the 1979 season.

The late Joe Nuxhall is again on the ballot for the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting excellence. The old left hander received the most fan votes last year, which was immediately following his death, and now joins Lanny Frattare, Tom Cheek (Expos + Blue Jays) and former Reds and Red Sox voice Ken Coleman among others on the list. Nux is certain to get support from Marty Brennaman, his former broadcast partner, who is among those doing the voting.

While the Baltimore Orioles need to improve on the field, their broadcast team remains solid with the announcement that Gary Thorne returns for TV play-by-play on MASN, while Joe Angel continues on radio. Fans around the country know of Thorne for his excellence on hockey telecasts, along with a few years calling baseball for ESPN.

Speaking of MLB-TV, and many baseball fans still don't realize what a plus this will be, the N Y Times reports that the one game each week they will pick up is no longer limited to Saturday nights, as first reported. Just as the network now is looking at 6 hours each night of studio coverage, they might show some games on Thursday nights instead of Saturdays during certain weeks.

On the college hoops scene, ESPN has signed a new and expanded five year agreement to cover Big West Conference basketball, with a minimum of 12 national telecasts to be scheduled. These include the Thanksgiving tournament in Anaheim next month which will have at least three of the games shown on ESPN.

NEW YORK - While we wait to find out how Mike performs in the ratings without the Mad Dog, we see that WFAN's morning show with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton is leading in the 25 to 54 age group in the latest reports.

On the New Jersey side, glad to see Jody McDonald returning to the 9 AM to 1 PM shift on ESPN 950. Jody returns after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery just six weeks ago. He will now be joined by Harry Mayes as co-host, moving up from having co-hosted the 7 to 11 PM shift with Dan Schwartzman. The station isn't saying whether or not this is a permanent thing or to ensure continuity in the event of health concerns about McDonald, but I think it is the latter.

HOUSTON - While the Rockets radio broadcasts will soon begin featuring Craig Ackerman as the new radio voice, his previous role as studio host for the broadcasts has been given to Adam Wexler. The Rockets are one of very few NBA teams with a Spanish broadcast, with Adrian Chavarria returning to call the games on KEYH 850 this season.

St. LOUIS - The "Movin'" WMVN 101.1 FM which moves to sports talk at the first of the year, has announced its afternoon drive host. Randy Karraker will bring more than 20 years in the market to this position, having talked sports at KMOX back in 1987. The station is also expected to bring in a co-host to work along with Randy. He will continue with high school sports play-by-play on Charter Cable in addition.

TEXAS - The local Baylor football fans will not be able to see their Oct. 18th game against Oklahoma State, as the game will not be televised on either a local or network basis. Those fans outside of the immediate area will be able to follow the game, as the school announced that this game will air on Sirius Satellite and on John Morris, J.J. Joe, and Ricky Thompson, will have the call.

Texas Christian University has announced a wonderful innovation. The school's KTCU 88.7 FM has added a high school football game of the week to air between 7 and 10 PM each Friday, with students producing the on-air content. Everybody wins, from the high schools having games featured on radio to the fans that get to hear them to the students getting the learning experience of a lifetime. I taught sportscasting at Columbia College Chicago for 7 semesters and can tell you first hand how wonderful the experience is for a student to get play-by-play training on the job. TCU alum Trey Fallon is among those who have already made this career move. Fallon produces pre and post-game shows for Cowboys and Mavericks broadcasts on 103.3 ESPN Radio.

KANSAS CITY - Congrats to Chiefs' voice Mitch Holthus, now in his 15th season as the voice of the Chiefs. He will be inducted on Sunday into the Kansas Assn. of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

MILWAUKEE - Now that the Brewers are done for the season, the Sunday TV and radio competition goes completely back to football. In Milwaukee, that seems to now mean the Packers and Brett Favre's Jets games.

This past Sunday (Oct. 5), the Packers telecast whipped the Brewers being eliminated by the Phillies on Milwaukee TV by better than a 2-to-1 margin. And for this, WTMJ Radio chose the Brewers broadcast ahead of the Packers. This after the Saturday Game 3 Brewers telecast finished as the ratings leader in Milwaukee, easily whipping the Ohio State football game.
Back to Favre this coming Sunday (Oct. 12), as WDJT-TV carries the Jets vs. Cincinnati, and has also scheduled the Jets vs. Kansas City on Oct. 26th.

HAMPTON - John Castleberry is out as afternoon host on The Game 1490 and also on Virginia Beach's 102.1 FM as of last Friday Oct. 3rd. He was able to finish his final show after breaking the news early in what turned out to be his final show, which included his putting callers on the air to voice their displeasure. Co-host Nick Halda was also released.

SANDUSKY - We can say that management of WLEC Sports 1450 was literally in a Fogg about morning drive. Almost two weeks ago, they let Sports Director Mark Fogg go in a cost-cutting move. After 33 years with the station. As of next Monday (Oct. 13), the morning show returns, with Fogg hired back as host. No word as to whether or not the "re-hiring" is for the same money. Ouch. The Bob Dylan line "20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift" seems to come into play here.

For those who like to have these, and I'm one of those people myself, here are the schedules for the MLB Championship Series, national telecasts for the NBA regular season which starts in 3 weeks (other than NBA-TV) through the month of November, and the Atlantic 10 Conference national college hoops schedule:

National League Championship Series (All Games on Fox)Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia PhilliesGame 1/LA at Philadelphia - Thursday, October 9, 8:22 p.m.
Game 2/LA at Philadelphia - Friday, October 10, 4:35 p.m.
Game 3/Philadelphia at LA - Sunday, October 12, 8:22 p.m.
Game 4/Philadelphia at LA - Monday, October 13, 8:22 p.m.
Game 5/Philadelphia at LA - Wednesday, October, 15, 8:22 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6/LA at Philadelphia - Friday, October 17, 8:22 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7/LA at Philadelphia - Saturday, October, 18, 8:22 p.m. (if necessary)

MLB on Fox Studio - Jeanne Zelasko/Kevin Kennedy/Eric KarrosFox - Joe Buck/Tim McCarver/Ken RosenthalESPN Radio - Dan Shulman/Dave Campbell

American League Championship Series (All Games on TBS)Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay
RaysGame 1/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Friday, October 10, 8:37 p.m.
Game 2/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Saturday, October 11, 8:07 p.m.
Game 3/Tampa Bay at Red Sox - Monday, October 13, 4:37 p.m.
Game 4/Tampa Bay at Red Sox - Tuesday, October 14, 8:07 p.m.
Game 5/Tampa Bay at Red Sox - Thursday, October 16, 8;07 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Saturday, October 18, 4:37 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Sunday, October 18, 8:07 p.m. (if necessary)
MLB on Deck - Ernie Johnson, Jr., Dennis Eckersley, Harold Reynolds, Cal Ripken, Jr.TBS - Chip Caray/Buck Martinez/Ron Darling/Craig SagerESPN Radio - Jon Miller/Joe Morgan

NBA regular season national telecasts - not including NBA-TV, through November:
TUESDAY, OCT. 28 8:00: Cleveland at Boston TNT10:30: Portland at L.A. Lakers TNT
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29 8:00: Phoenix at San Antonio ESN10:30: L.A. Lakers at L.A. Clippers ESN
THURSDAY, OCT. 30 8:00: Houston at Dallas TNT10:30: New Orleans at Phoenix TNT
FRIDAY, OCT. 31 8:00: Chicago at Boston ESN10:30: San Antonio at Portland ESN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 5 8:00: Chicago at Cleveland ESN10:30: Denver at Golden State ESN
THURSDAY, NOV. 6 8:00: Philadelphia at Orlando TNT10:30: Houston at Portland TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 7 8:00: Miami at San Antonio ESN10:30: Dallas at Denver ESN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12 8:00: Utah at Washington ESN10:30: Houston at Phoenix ESN
THURSDAY, NOV. 13 7:00: Denver at Cleveland TNT9:30: Dallas at Chicago TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 14 8:00: Denver at Boston ESN10:30: Detroit at L.A. Lakers ESN
SATURDAY, NOV. 15 8:30: Indiana at Chicago WGN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19 8:00: Dallas at Houston ESN10:30: Chicago at Portland ESN
THURSDAY, NOV. 20 8:00: Detroit at Boston TNT10:30: L.A. Lakers at Phoenix TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 21 7:00: Houston at Washington ESN9:30: New Orleans at Oklahoma City ESN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 26 7:30: Orlando at Philadelphia ESN10:00:

THURSDAY, NOV. 27 8:00: Orlando at Washington TNT10:30: New Orleans at Denver TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 28 8:00: Miami at Phoenix ESN10:30: Dallas at L.A. Lakers ESN

Atlantic 10 Conference Men's Hoops:
ESPN Tue. - Nov. 18 - Massachusetts at Memphis (12:00)

Tue. - Nov. 18 - Richmond at Syracuse (6:00)
Tue. - Nov. 25 - Saint Joseph's vs. Indiana/Notre Dame* (TBA)
Wed. - Nov. 26 - Saint Joseph's at Maui Invitational# (TBA)
Fri. - Nov. 28 - Duquesne at Duke (3:00)
Sat. - Dec. 13 - Tennessee at Temple (12:00) Sat. - Dec. 13 - Massachusetts at Kansas (2:00)
*May be aired on ESPNU depending on outcome of previous game #May be aired on ESPN2 or ESPNU depending on outcome of previous game

Thu. - Feb. 5 - Temple at Xavier (7:00)
Thu. - Feb. 12 - Temple at Saint Joseph's (7:00)
Thu. - Feb. 19 - Xavier at Charlotte (7:00)
Thu. - Feb. 26 - Xavier at Saint Joseph's (7:00)
Thu. - Mar. 5 - Dayton at Xavier (9:00)
Network designation to be determined at a later date

Fri. - Nov. 21 - Xavier vs. Fairfield/Virginia Tech* (TBA)
Sun. - Nov. 23 - Xavier at Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic* (TBA)
Mon. - Nov. 24 - Saint Joseph's vs. Texas (3:00)
Fri. - Nov. 28 - Charlotte vs. Baylor/ Providence* (TBA)
Sun. - Nov. 30 - Charlotte at Anaheim Classic* (TBA)
Thu. - Dec. 11 - Saint Joseph's at Villanova (8:00)
Sat. - Dec. 13 - Xavier at Cincinnati (8:00)
Sat. - Dec. 20 - Temple at Kansas (2:30)
Sat. - Jan. 17 - Temple at Massachusetts (7:00) Sat. -
Jan. 24 - Xavier at Louisiana State (8:00)
Wed. - Feb. 11 - Xavier at Dayton (7:00) Sat. -
Mar. 14 - Atlantic 10 Championship Final (6:00)
*May be aired on ESPNU depending on outcome of previous game

ESPNU Sun. - Nov. 16 - Rhode Island at Duke (4:30) Thu. - Nov. 20 - Xavier vs. Missouri (1:00) Fri. - Nov. 21 - Xavier vs. Fairfield/Virginia Tech* (TBA) Thu. - Nov. 27 - Charlotte vs. Arizona State (9:00) Sat. - Dec. 13 - Virginia Commonwealth at Richmond (2:00) Sun. - Dec. 14 - Villanova at La Salle (7:00) Fri. - Dec. 19 - Wake Forest at Richmond (7:00) Tue. - Dec. 23 - Butler at Xavier (7:00) Sat. - Jan. 24 - Charlotte at Temple (6:00) Mon. - Dec. 29 - Temple at Villanova (7:00) Sat. - Jan. 31 - Massachusetts at Xavier (12:00)
*May be aired on depending on outcome of previous game

CBS Sat. - Dec. 20 - Xavier vs. Duke (2:00)

CBS College Sports Network Wed. - Dec. 3 - Auburn at Xavier (8:00) Sat. - Dec. 6 - Boston College at Massachusetts (8:30) Sat. - Jan. 3 - Vanderbilt at Massachusetts (5:00) Thu. - Jan. 8 - Saint Louis at Xavier (8:00) Thu. - Jan. 15 - Xavier at Rhode Island (8:00) Sun. - Jan. 18 - Charlotte at Saint Joseph's (4:00) Thu. - Jan. 22 - Saint Louis at Temple (8:00) Thu. - Jan. 29 - Saint Louis at Dayton (8:00) Sun. - Feb. 8 - Saint Joseph's at Massachusetts (3:00) Wed. - Feb. 18 - Saint Joseph's at Saint Louis (10:00) Thu. - Mar. 5 - Saint Joseph's at Temple (7:00)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

One right, one wrong for MLB this post-season

Would the A.L. Central title game have had a different outcome if Game 163 was played in Minnesota instead of Chicago? Maybe or maybe not. We'll never know.

The Twins and their fans remain upset following their 1-0 loss to the White Sox in Chicago about the game having been played in Chicago. They point out that the Twins took the season series from the White Sox by one game. They have a valid point on that one.

Such an important game should not be decided by a coin toss, especially because "that's the way it has always been". I agree it is time to change that system. Hopefully MLB will revise this during the off-season and have a new policy for tie-breakers ready for 2009, before we know which teams might be involved.

But this doesn't mean that this year's game should not have been played in Chicago. In many cases, I agree that a season series between two teams should be the way to determine a tie-breaker. But until or unless MLB does something about its oddball and unbalanced schedules, I'm not sure I agree in this instance.

The fact is that the White Sox vs. Twins game was played specifically to decide the winner of the A.L. Central Division. While I don't like most of the changes in MLB over the past 12 years, I love the fact that a championship was decided on the field and not past results. This game added to the drama, and would have even if it had not been a 1-0 game.

Sure, MLB could have decided the division champion without this game. They could have based it on head-to-head competition between the two teams, their records within the entire Central Division, records vs. the other playoff teams, or something else. But if they had, the drama of the White Sox having to defeat three different division rivals in three days to win the title never would have happened. Now that it has, there is reason to be sure that MLB keeps it this way.

I couldn't help but think about the season the Chicago Bears made the NFL playoffs because of "point differential" by running up the score in their season finale against the Cardinals, who had nothing to play for. Compare that with the drama in Chicago in their games vs. Detroit and Minnesota. As a sports fan, which way would you prefer it?

I thought so.

So why should the White Sox vs. Twins game indeed have been held in Chicago? Because the most important criteria to determine this game's location was not taken into consideration. Had it been, no doubt the game would have taken place in the same park it did.

Since this game was for first place, and not a tiebreaker between the White Sox and Twins, I say the amount of time a team spends in first place during the season should count toward a title in the rare event of a dead heat. Fact is the White Sox spent all but two weeks (or less) of the entire season holding first place.

To me, that means Minnesota should have to overtake Chicago to finish there. On Chicago's turf. Or in this case, grass. It so happens that due to a coin toss, the game wound up in Chicago. Sorry, Twins fans, but that's where it should have been in, so to speak, the first place.

Fortunately, we were spared the embarassment of their having to be a game just to decide the Wild Card. (See my recent column about that.) But if the Mets and Brewers would have had to go through with it, there is no doubt that game should have been in New York. Nothing to do with the possible end of Shea Stadium at all.

Same formula. The Mets spent weeks in first place in their division, while the Brewers spent a few days there at most.

Let's make the amount of time a team spends on the field in first place count for something in MLB. The NFL can keep its tiebreakers for determining playoffs. Remember, even some overtime games are also decided by a coin flip. Which do you find more exciting?


At least that White Sox-Twins game turned out to be in the right place. Better than I can say for American League "Comeback Player of the Year". Cliff Lee???? Right player, wrong award. If there were a major award for "Most Improved Player", Cliff Lee wins it unanimously. However, the award reads "Comeback of the Year".

When was Cliff Lee ever at or even close to the level he showed this year. How can a guy who never won in double digits make a "Comeback" to win 22 games? He has never been there before. If this is how the people who vote are paying attention, I'll have to look to see how Cliff Lee fares in voting for the "Silver Slugger" Award. After all, he batted a couple of times against the National League this past season, and got more at-bats than he did in 2007. Makes about as much sense.