Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not Much Stock in Stockton Anymore

Several readers who watched the Fox regional telecast of last Saturday's (5/25) Rays at Red Sox telecast were complaining about the increasing number of mistakes that Dick Stockton made during the telecast. Interesting that Stockton was in the unique position of calling the game for Fox on Saturday (to about 25% of the country) and then for TBS on Sunday afternoon. Rare that the same announcer works for competing networks within 24 hours on the same event when there is no partnership. As much I have respected Stockton's work over the past 40 years on national telecasts, it seems it may be time for the networks to move on. To give you an idea of how long Stockton has been on, it was his call on Carlton Fisk's 1975 World Series homerun, "If it's fair...".

Sunday's Indy 500 was, as always, broadcast nationally on radio. Chicago is roughly 3 hours away from Indianapolis and unofficially a "second market" for the race. Yet, this year, not one Chicago station aired the race live, leaving it only to a couple of suburban stations. Those signals did not even cover the entire city and nearest suburbs. One of the sports stations, WSCR The Score, could not because of its White Sox baseball commitment. The other, WMVP ESPN, did not. Perhaps because it is an ESPN owned station, and the race was carried by an independent network. Yet, even the country music station WUSN-FM, which has regularly aired NASCAR events over the years, passed on it.

Now some other readers are taking notice. Again on Monday (Memorial Day), The Dan Patrick Show was a rerun. When this happens, it sticks sports radio stations and some high profile regional sports TV networks in the embarassing position of airing outdated content on a busy sports day. Here is the sports world on the morning after its biggest auto race of the year, on the brink of the Stanley Cup finals, the NBA Conference Finals, and at the one-third mark of an exicting baseball season.

Yet, radio and TV stations disappoint their audiences by not airing current content for up to three hours. This leaves those fans with the option of turning the tuner over to ESPN TV or radio for live and current content. As I keep saying, Dan Patrick is entitled to the time off. Just hire somebody to take over on those days and keep the show with live content. It shouldn't be too much to ask. And ask again.

Then on Wednesday (5/30), the sports media talk was on White Sox TV voice Ken Harrelson for an on-air rant against the umpire who ejected White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana and then manager Robin Ventura. Maybe there is a time and place for ESPN and MLB Network (and others) to give viewers a chuckle at this sort of inane babbling, but taking up sports "reporting" time is not one of them. Granted, I don't like Harrelson anyway (and I'm a White Sox fan - so it's not the incessant homering), but there is no need to provide encouragement to a broadcaster who makes himself bigger than any event as it is.

Warren Sapp, who it is confirmed will not return to Showtime's "Inside the NFL", will return to NFL Network for the coming season, which again includes the Sunday morning pre-game show.

On the Canadian side of the border, Rogers Media Sportsnet has expanded its NFL coverage into Canadian markets. A 5-year extension will add 16 Thursday telecasts from NFL Network (and others) to their continuing Sunday afternoon "late game" package. Sportsnet will also show the 13 NFL Network Thursday night telecasts, as well as all three Thanksgiving telecasts, which will consist of one each by way of Fox, CBS, and NBC.

NEW YORK: Angels baseball on WFAN? Well, sometimes. Even with the long-standing ESPN Radio deal with Major League Baseball to air selected games and Sunday nights, Compass Media Networks are beginning a syndication of about 25 L.A. Angels broadcasts this season. Oddly enough, WFAN 660 is one of the affiliates, and plans to air those broadcasts on nights they do not conflict with Mets games. Its first broadcast will be on June 11th when the Angels play the Dodgers. Yet, there may be more to this. A check of the Mets schedule against the Angels' syndicated games shows that two of about 5 or 6 games WFAN can carry happen to be against the Red Sox, and probably of interest to Yankees fans. This, while the speculation continues that ESPN Radio New York will be an aggressive bidder for both the Mets and Yankees radio contracts over the next 15 months.

Smaller stations, such as WALL 1340 Middletown and WEOK 1390 Poughkeepsie are planning to air the majority of the Angels broadcasts, except for a couple scheduled vs. the Yankees.

MIAMI: It looks as though Sid Rosenberg will return to airwaves after all, most likely on WMEN 640, according to a Miami Herald report. Even though WQAM dismissed Rosenberg due to a recent DUI arrest, it seems his no-compete clause stands until early August at the latest.

CHICAGO: From the "It's about time" department, one team is doing a ticket giveaway during its telecasts. Since a big part of the idea of televising games is to encourage fans to come out and see the team, the WGN-TV new contest to give away White Sox tickets during every inning of its telecasts seems a perfect idea. The station plans to give out 4 tickets to fans during each inning of its 18 remaining telecasts (as of press time) of White Sox games up until Labor Day. Viewers responding to a code word given each inning will be eligible. This is something that more teams should use, since it also serves as a gauge of viewer response and interet in the team, to some extent. It's an added bonus for White Sox fans that the keywords will be on the screen. Thus, the fans who have muted the sound to avoid Ken Harrelson will be able to easily participate.

HOUSTON: The owners of KGOW 1560 Yahoo Sports Radio are now about to purchase KFNC 97.5 ESPN. Early indications are that KFNC would continue with ESPN Radio going forward. Too soon to tell if this could be a factor in these stations pursuing the Rockets games, given that KILT has yet to re-sign the team now that its Rockets contract has expired.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Comcast SportsNet has added local newspaper writer Tarik El-Bashir to its on-air staff, where he is expected to be on the network's thorough coverage of the Redskins starting in a few weeks.

ALBUQUERQUE: Not a very "Memorial Day" on Monday (5/28) for ESPN 101.7. The station was knocked off the air for more than 12 hours after vandals literally cut the transmitter wires and used a vehicle to dislodge them from the transmitter. As of press time, the station was back on the air with signal limitations and by generator.

By the way - thanks to all of you for your comments each week, whether positive or not, especially to Jeff in Tacoma. While I enjoy receiving them directly, I'm going to ask you to comment via this blog so that newcomers can join in. Keep 'em coming!

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