A pair of temporary baseball assignments in the news this week. Jim Riggleman, until last week the manager of the Nationals, will have weekend work. Literally for just this coming (July 1 - 3) weekend. He will be at Wrigley field as an additional pre and post-game analyst for the White Sox vs. Cubs telecasts on Friday and Sunday on Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Friday and Sunday. Granted, it is merely a weekend assignment and is not a part of the actual game telecasts, but Riggleman's expertise figures to be excellent. In addition to having managed the Cubs earlier in his career, he comes into this role just over a week after having been the manager of the Marlins.
It is great to see a local telecast add such fresh analysis, even if it will be as part of a panel of analysts outside of the actual game telecast. The Saturday game of this series will be a Fox regional game, while the Friday and Sunday games are also televised on WGN-TV.
MLB Network, which continues to innovate and improve from month to month, brings us a treat next week. Its Friday July 8th telecast of the Mets at Giants game will feature a pair of legendary play-by-play voices. Bob Costas will call the game, even though it is a Friday night instead of Thursday, and will be joined by Al Michaels.
Since the telecast cannot be shown in the San Francisco or New York markets, the duo will spend at least one inning in each of the S.F. and N.Y. local TV booths, with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling switching over to the MLB Network telecast while this happens in the Mets' booth. Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow will do the same while Costas and Michaels call it for Giants TV.
Although Al Michaels is now known for his NFL work over the past 20+ years, it was baseball which originally brought him to the network level back in the 70's for ABC's Monday Night Baseball. He had been the radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds on WLW until 1974. By the way, the man who replaced Michaels is still calling Reds radio. Marty Brennaman, who since has become a Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster, was his replacement.
As you would expect, the upcoming holiday weekend features a ton of nationally televised baseball. On Friday (1st) MLB Network shows the Yankees vs. Mets game, and then celebrates Monday (4th) and the return to league action with a doubleheader. As you would also expect, it's the American League East, with Toronto vs. Boston at 1 PM ET and the Yankees at Cleveland at 6 PM ET.
Sporting News Radio has, as expected, gone literally down the hallway to complete its search for its 1 to 4 PM ET weekday show. The network will really be simulcasting the Sean Pendergast Show from KGOW 1560 Houston, just as it does with the Travis Rodgers show that follows, starting next week.
Meanwhile, I'm in shock about the story regarding Charlie Sheen and what he supposedly did during the filming of the "Major League" movie many years ago. But not because of the content of the story. What is shocking is that this "story" actually made several sportscasts and the sports sections. If it were my sportscast, or if I was still a Sports Director (which I'm sure some of my detractors will gladly remind me that I'm not), there is no way on earth that "story" would take even one second of air time, unless it was from a caller I would want interrupted.
Sorry, Charlie. That movie was years ago, was fictional, and this story has nothing to do with sports news.
CLEVELAND: Another step in the growing trend of pro sports teams taking over from radio stations. Several pro teams have their own deals with radio stations in which they (the team) sell some or all of the advertising, hire the announcers and staff, and have virtually full control. Now, the Cleveland Browns are taking over to have "Cleveland Browns Daily" air when they want it to.
The Browns want the 6 to 7 PM time for a weekday show surrounding their season. However, flagship station WTAM could not offer that time slot, due mainly to its having Indians and Cavaliers broadcasts on many weeknights during the Browns training camp, exhibition season, and regular season.
Now, the Browns have arranged for "their" show to air during the 6 PM hour all year round, and it will air on WKNR Sports 850 instead. The team, not the station, has hired Vic Carucci, most recently employed by NFL.com, to host the show. As of press time, the start date has not been determined due to the NFL lockout.
As a longtime radio person, this disturbs me because the team is taking control of two radio stations by doing this. The flagship station loses a team focused show. And chances are that game broadcasts and this show will have some degree of cross promotion. Yet, these stations both compete for the sports audience during that time of night. It's hard to believe that both stations could be allowing the other's call letters to be aired as a result.
SAN FRANCISCO: KBWF 95.7, the latest addition to the Bay Area sports radio scene, continues to grow its local presence within its first few weeks on the air. Eric Davis has taken over the 2 to 6 PM spot, with the former NFL player (13 seasons) handling much more than only NFL related topics. Davis will, if and when the NFL season gets going, continue his role as analyst on 49ers radio while Ted Robinson returns for play-by-play.
Now the station is adding John Lund to host middays, starting August 1st. Lund has hosted for an impressive roster of sports stations around the country, including WXYT The Ticket in Detroit, KESN Dallas, and WEAE-AM Pittsburgh. He comes to the Bay Area from KXTG The Game in Portland.
HOUSTON: KGOW The Game 1560 has added Rice University football and basketball broadcasts beginning in the next few weeks as it begins a 4-year contract. Also included will be a Monday night one hour show specific to Rice sports. However, some of the Rice football games will be moved to KCOH 1430 due to pre-existing conflicts.
PORTLAND: With the departure of John Lund to San Francisco, KXTG 750 has named Brian Berger to host "The Sports Insider" during its 10 AM to Noon weekday spot.
HARTFORD: The AHL (hockey) Connecticut Whale games are movin' on up thanks to a new deal for the coming season. Their regular season games will air on rock station WCCC 106.9, with Bob Crawford retained to call the games. Crawford has done the play-by-play since the franchise came to Hartford in 1997. However, this past season only found the games on the HD2 channel of WTIC. (Does that count?) Safe to say that the presence of minor league hockey did not result in a surge of HD Radio sales locally.
CHAPEL HILL: The University of North Carolina's Tar Heels Network has made its choice to succeed the legendary Woody Durham as play-byplay voice for football and basketball after 40 years. But they didn't have to go very far. As expected by many, Jones Angell moves over from analyst to the play-by-play role after his work with Durham for the past six seasons. Angell has been calling UNC baseball, including five trips to the College World Series, over the past 11 years. No word yet on who will be selected as the new analyst.
Have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!!