The Pittsburgh Pirates have named their new play-by-play voice to replace the retired Lanny Fratare starting this coming season. Chosen over 200+ candidates is 42 year old Tim Neverett, most recently in the Denver area hosting studio coverage and doing fill-in for Rockies TV. He also hosted sports talk on Denver's 1510 and 560 AM, along with Mountain West Conference play-by-play.
Neverett began his baseball broadcasting career at age 19 when he called games for the Nashua N.H. class AA farm club of the Pirates. Our congrats to Tim, who was considered to have been runner-up to Brian Anderson two years ago for the Milwaukee Brewers TV position.
While we are days away from the official debut of MLB-TV on most cable systems across the country, the channel is already on the air and showing recent World Series films plus a few extras on rotation until Jan. 1st. A personal friend alerted me to it, and I know of 4 different cities which now have MLB-TV already showing, so be sure to check if you have digital cable.
MLB-TV makes its debut next week, on New Year's Day at 6 PM ET, and reportedly plans to show Don Larsen's perfect game from the 1956 World Series in what is believed to be the first re-airing of the telecast. Looks more interesting to me than the bowl games that evening.
On the football side, Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL is revisiting its radio rights package after this season. Or, as we might be saying very soon, packages. The League is looking at additional possibilities beyond Westwood One, based on stock price and recent financial issues with parent CBS Radio. I think this translates to getting ESPN in on the bidding, since a Monday Night Football radio package would give both TV and radio to ESPN. I'm sure the NFL wants some of those millions that ESPN just spent on the BCS, and here is a way they can get it, along with millions more from other networks and sources. Look for at least one announcement around Super Bowl time. The NFL's deal with Siriux XM continues through the 2010 season.
NEW YORK - After 40+ years of reporting sports on TV and radio around New York and nationally, Sal Marchiano has retired. His final sportcast came last Thursday (Dec. 18) on WPIX-TV instead of Friday as previously thought, after 14 years on channel 11. Many across the country may remember Sal from a stint on ESPN.
Going back even further, Marchiano used to fill in on "Howard Cosell Speaking of Sports" back when the ABC Radio Network was only the ABC Radio Network.
As for WPIX-TV, Lolita Lopez is handling the weeknight sportscasts, but is considered an interim replacement.
CHICAGO - Sports radio 670 WSCR The Score is trumpeting carrying the entire NCAA Tournament this March. As much as I like to see sports stations carry play-by-play instead of fans merely giving their opinions on the games, this announcement is much ado over very litte.
Local college teams, such as DePaul, Loyola, University of Illinois Chicago, and Northwestern, are not expected to be a factor if they even make the tournament. Then, the station acts like it has to move its White Sox exhibition game schedule around to make room. Give me a break. Even with the increased ratings its White Sox coverage delievered last summer and fall and coming off a Central Division championship, the station again plans to broadcast just five (count 'em, 5) entire exhibition games.
WSCR claims a nine game exhibition schedule, but four of them are what they call "interactive" broadcasts. The station did this during March of this year. What it really amounts to is a talk show including the White Sox broadcasters who are at the exhibition game, and occasional updates about what is going on in the game itself. As if they couldn't have talk shows with the broadcasters at night or at other times. Do they really think we would rather hear who the fans think should be the starting White Sox center fielder, or hear how that day's center fielder is doing at the plate?
SAN FRANCISCO - While many NFL cities await this coming Sunday's final day of the regular season and the playoff implications, 49ers fans will hear the final call of long-time voice Joe Starkey on KNBR 680 against the Redskins.
This move is not a retirement; rather a schedule reduction for Starkey after more than 20 years of calling two football games most weekends. Joe will continue as the voice of Cal football.
Cal football was there long ago for Starkey. Most of you know the "The band is on the field!!" call of the legendary 1982 college game. That was Starkey doing what he has done since 1975 for the Golden Bears. In a way, this will be the toughest 49ers "loss" of the season.
St. LOUIS - It seems like our weekly update on the new WMVN, which finally starts next week after months of planning and hiring. Sure enough, Bob Ramsey will join 101.1 FM on Jan. 2nd, it's first day as a sports outlet. He will team with Randy Karraker for afternoon drive. Ramsey is already being heard on that frequency as St. Louis University basketball already moved over last month. The St. Louis Post Dispatch speculates that D'Marco Farr (the former Rams player) might be a participant on that program to some extent.
OKLAHOMA CITY - They may have gained an NBA team, but they are about to lose their second sports station. Jox 930 AM is airing ESPN Radio programming, but this is a temporary move until a new format is unveiled. The station no longer shows up in the ratings and has let go of its local talent. The biggest contributors to its demise were the death of afternoon co-host Jack Mildren and losing out on the bidding for the NBA Thunder to rival (until now) WWLS.