Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sports Media Report - December 16th Update

Several moves on the play-by-play scene over the past few days. While the upcoming MLB-TV Network gets ready for its Jan. 1st debut, its newest studio host is Victor Rojas, who has now officially been named to the post. Rojas had been considered a possible candidate for the open San Diego Padres job.

In Chicago, after nearly two months of waiting, Darrin Jackson has decided to accept the White Sox radio gig as the #2 voice behind Ed Farmer. Jackson comes over from the TV booth after trying to catch on with one of the national networks since the announcement was made that Steve Stone is moving from the White Sox radio booth over to the TV side.

In Los Angeles, Spero Dedes and Mychal Thompson will continue handling Lakers radio, but will be changing flagship stations after this season. Starting next season, the Lakers will be heard on KSPN 710 beginning a multi-year agreement. This ends a 30+ year association between the Lakers and 570 KLAC. If KLAC wants to continue to carry the NBA, they figure to have a shot a Clippers broadcasts. KSPN is, in effect, dumping the Clippers to take the Lakers, which nobody except Clippers management will question.

This past Sunday (Dec. 14) was a busy one for Spero Dedes. After hosting NFL Gameday Morning" on the NFL Network for 3 hours (keeping in mind the show airs starting at 6 AM Los Angeles time), Dedes was on the air at 6:00 PM to call the Lakers vs. Timberwolves game from the Staples Center.

On the Dodgers side, it seems there is a rare TV opening for a play-by-play voice for about 40 of the Dodgers road telecasts when Vin Scully does not travel with the team. This translates to road telecasts east of Colorado.

The team has been moving Charlie Steiner over from the radio booth for the past 3 seasons and had Jerry Reuss fill in on the radio side with Rick Monday. This change means that Steiner and Monday will call every game on radio only and it appears that Reuss is out. TV analyst Steve Lyons is under contract for the 2009 season, as is the 81 year old Scully.

Scully will be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame this coming April.

In Columbus, WBNS 1460 The Fan has expanded its surrounding coverage of the NHL Blue Jackets. "The Coach's Show with Ken Hitchcock" airs each Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:00 PM, and "Breakfast With The Blue Jackets" airs at 10:00 AM each Sunday with the team's broadcasters.

On the TV side, a tremendous weekend just concluded for football viewing. Hours before NBC-TV set a Sunday Night Football viewing record, CBS scored its third highest ratings of the season with a 15.3 overnight from its Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore thriller during Sunday's late game. This was despite Fox-TV having the Vikings - Cardinals game on against it in several markets including Chicago. However, the early blowout by Minnesota probably contributed to the CBS-TV audience.

The week before (Dec. 7th) was the highest rated NFL (afternoon) telecast so far this season when Fox-TV drew a 17 rating for its doubleheader game telecast of Dallas at Pittsburgh.
The Big Ten Network continues to do what it can to attract viewers it hopes will ante up some bucks to continue with the BTN for the 2009-10 football and basketball seasons. The network airs, for now, on expanded basic on many cable systems, with the plan to move it to an extra cost tier before next fall. While many believe this will not come to fruition, the network is continuing its appeal to sports fans.

BTN is unleashing what it terms "new" classic Big 10 basketball telecasts from years gone by as a showcase to the caliber of talent the Conference has produced over the years.

Let's be real about this. If ESPN Classic were actually doing what it set out to do and did for its first couple of years, this BTN announcement wouldn't even have made the sports pages. Maybe this will start spreading the news to ESPN that its "Classic" Network is seriously under its potential. Now, while Classic continues to feed us poker and game replays from within the past 10 years, it looks like conference and pro league networks see the value of showing "true" classic telecasts.

Here is the Press Release from the Big Ten:

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Network Airing 16 New Basketball Classics on ‘Greatest Games’

Series features five Big Ten national championships

CHICAGO – Where can fans watch Big Ten legends such as Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Glenn Robinson, Deron Williams and Keith Smart square off against basketball greats like Larry Bird, James Worthy, Tayshaun Prince, Jacque Vaughn and Chris Paul? Only on the Big Ten Network this winter on the popular series The Big Ten’s Greatest Games.

In all, 16 new classics will debut during the course of the basketball season.

The Greatest Games schedule features five Big Ten national championships, including Indiana’s title games in 1981 and 1987, Michigan’s championship game in 1989 and Michigan State’s titles in 1979 and 2000. Additional games from the NCAA Elite Eight and Sweet 16 will air throughout the winter, as will memorable regular season classics.

“When fans get together and reminisce about their teams’ great moments, these are the games they talk about,” Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said.

Many episodes of The Big Ten’s Greatest Games will include insight and memories from legendary players and coaches along with reporters who were on hand to cover the event.
Northwestern’s 2005 overtime victory against Iowa premiered on Dec. 1 and the Illinois’ 2004 ACC-Big Ten Challenge win against Wake Forest debuted on Dec. 8. Both games will re-air several times during the course of the season.

The upcoming schedule includes:

December 16, 8pm ET – 4/3/2000 – NCAA Championship Game – #5 Michigan State 89, #11 Florida 76

Three Michigan State seniors Morris Peterson (21 points), A.J. Granger (19) and Mateen Cleaves (18) led the Spartans to a national championship in Indianapolis. Cleaves overcame a second-half knee injury. Udonis Haslem scored 27 points for Florida in a losing effort.

December 23, 8pm ET – 3/30/1981 – NCAA Championship Game – #14 Indiana 63, #12 North Carolina 50
Philadelphia’s Spectrum was the scene of an Indiana national championship for the second time in five years. The Tar Heels led for nearly the entire first half, but Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner shut down future NBA stars James Worthy and Sam Perkins in the second half. Isiah Thomas, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored a game-high 23 points to go with five assists and four steals.

December 30, 6pm ET – 1/20/2001 – Minnesota 78, Indiana 74 (OT)
Minnesota trailed 68-55 with 3:18 to play in regulation before going on a 14-1 run to tie the game and force overtime. Dusty Rychart scored 21 points, including two free throws with three seconds remaining in the extra period, to lead Minnesota past Indiana, 78-74. Kirk Haston had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana.

January 6, 7pm ET – 3/24/1994 – NCAA Sweet 16 – #6 Purdue 83, #11 Kansas 78
Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson (44 points) and Cuonzo Martin (29) combined to score 73 of Purdue’s 83 points to slip past Jacque Vaughn, Greg Ostertag and Kansas, 83-78. The victory sent head coach Gene Keady and the Boilermakers into the Elite Eight for the first time in 14 years.
January 13, 7pm ET – 3/26/2005 – NCAA Elite Eight – #1 Illinois 90, #8 Arizona 89 (OT)

Top-ranked Illinois engineered one of the most amazing comebacks in NCAA Tournament history, rallying from 15 down with four minutes to go. Deron Williams’ three-pointer tied the game at 80 with 39 seconds left. Then, the Illini made two defensive stops in the closing seconds of regulation and on the final possession of the game to reserve their place in the Final Four.

January 20, 7pm ET – 4/3/1989 – NCAA Championship Game – #8 Michigan 80, #11 Seton Hall 79 (OT)
These two teams produced one of the wildest and most exciting championship games ever, the first national championship game in 26 years to require overtime. Rumeal Robinson made two free throws with three seconds left to cap Michigan’s improbable run to the title under new head coach Steve Fisher. Glen Rice scored 31 points for Michigan and Robinson contributed 21.

January 27, 9pm ET – 2/23/1993 – Ohio State 81, #1 Indiana 77 (OT)
Ohio State rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to upset top-ranked Indiana, 81-77, in overtime in Columbus. Jamie Skelton’s three-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime broke a 77-77 tie. The Hoosiers missed an opportunity to win it in regulation at the free throw line. Greg Graham led Indiana with 21 points and Derek Anderson had 20 for the Buckeyes.

February 3, 8pm ET – 2/7/2004 – Iowa 84, Indiana 82 (2 OT)
All five Iowa starters scored in double figures, led by Greg Brunner’s 23, in this double-overtime thriller. Indiana forced the first overtime period by intentionally missing a free throw with one second remaining and getting a tap-in from Patrick Ewing, Jr. However, Jeff Horner’s off-balance lay-up with two seconds left in the second overtime gave the Hawkeyes the win in Bloomington.

February 10, 7pm ET – 3/30/1987 – NCAA Championship Game – #4 Indiana 74, #10 Syracuse 73
Keith Smart’s jumper in the final seconds lifted Indiana to a national championship, 74-73, against a star-studded Syracuse team that featured Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas. Steve Alford led Indiana with 23 points, and Smart’s 16-footer became one of the most famous shots in college basketball history.

February 17, 8pm ET – 11/29/2000 – #23 Wisconsin 78, #13 Maryland 75 (OT)
Kirk Penney scored five of his 18 points in overtime to help Wisconsin to a win against Maryland in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Charlie Willis chipped in 15 points in the game, which was played at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. The Terrapins’ lineup featured the backcourt of Juan Dixon and Steve Blake.

February 24, 8pm ET – 3/20/1987 – NCAA Sweet 16 – #6 Iowa 93, #17 Oklahoma 91 (OT)
In a match-up between two of college basketball’s fastest-paced teams, head coach Dr. Tom Davis, B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble and the Hawkeyes faced coach Billy Tubbs, Stacey King and the Oklahoma Sooners. Kevin Gamble of Iowa swished a three-pointer with one second remaining in overtime, leaving Oklahoma without a chance to inbound the ball and earning the Hawkeyes a place in the 1987 Elite Eight.

March 3, 7pm ET – 3/27/2005 – NCAA Eight Elite – #5 Michigan State 94, #2 Kentucky 88 (2 OT)
Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team defeated Tubby Smith’s Kentucky Wildcats in double-overtime in one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament games in history. The second-seeded Wildcats rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 5:25 of regulation, capped by Patrick Sparks’ buzzer-beating three-pointer that bounced on the rim four times before dropping. The teams needed two overtimes to determine a winner. Michigan State’s Alan Anderson made four free throws in the final 15 seconds to send the Spartans to the Final Four.

March 10, 8pm ET – 3/20/1999 – NCAA Elite Eight – #11 Ohio State 77, #10 St. John’s 74
Scoonie Penn scored 22 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists to help the Buckeyes get past Ron Artest and St. John’s. The victory propelled Ohio State to the Final Four. Michael Redd scored 20 points for OSU.

March 24, 8pm ET – 3/26/1979 – NCAA Championship Game – #4 Michigan State 75, #1 Indiana State 64
Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, two of the greatest players of all-time, squared off for the first time, triggering one of the great individual rivalries in basketball history. In the end, Magic’s Michigan State team was too much for Bird and previously undefeated Indiana State, which lost 75-64. Magic scored 24 points with seven rebounds. Bird tallied 19 points to go with 13 rebounds and five steals. Michigan State’s Greg Kelser added 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

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