Mike Silva's Sports Media Watchdog

For Knicks, Toughness Starts at the Top

This entry was posted on May 16th, 2013 @ 5:59 am by Mike Silva.
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It was disappointing to hear that MSG hierarchy pulled the plug on Mike Woodson’s regular segment on ESPN-98.7 with Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco. I don’t believe this is much of a loss from a radio standpoint – Woodson’s matter-of-fact interview style probably would annoy the bloodthirsty fans  - but from an organizational Q-Rating  it’s a black eye. I also think it sends the wrong message to the team.

There is always a conspiracy theory around the Garden. Five years after his dismissal there are those that believe Isiah Thomas is still managing the roster. I believe some of that is naive paranoia, but when MSG puts up the iron curtain during difficult times it promotes such a mentality.

Twenty years ago the Knicks suffered perhaps their worst loss in franchise history during Game 5 of the Conference Finals. Down one, Charles Smith had four chances at the basket only to be rebuffed by one of the Bulls big three. The 97-94 loss snapped a 27-game home winning streak and put the Knicks in a position where they had to stave off elimination at the old Chicago Stadium. Everyone knows what happened next.

During the days between Games 5 and 6, the fans and media killed Smith and the Knicks for their performance. Despite that, no player hid from the media. The following year after the Reggie Miller-Spike Lee episode, I distinctly remember Pat Riley going on WFAN with Mike & the Mad Dog to discuss the team’s mindset going into Indiana. Again, no one was hiding during tough times. How would the Garden react to those two terrible losses today? I shutter just imagining it.

Everyone is calling for the Knicks to show some toughness in this series. I don’t often agree with Mike Francesa, but when he said the Knicks need to “stop trying to be tough games and play their game,” he couldn’t be more correct. The Knicks are an energy and passion team, not a tire iron crew like Indiana. This isn’t Riley’s or Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks. They don’t have to be as they are good enough to win if they play their game. That doesn’t involve wrestling in the post, but rather up-tempo energy and ball movement.

If the Knicks lose tonight at MSG and go home, the media meme of toughness will be pervasive throughout the blogosphere and Twitterverse. I have a hard time believing a team that suffered as many setbacks as these Knicks aren’t tough. I think they have shown a propensity to panic during some challenging segments. Even so, they found a way to settle down and right the ship. The win in Utah during the west coast trip is a perfect example.

In the end, I don’t blame the players if toughness is a problem. This all starts and stops at the top. Mike Woodson didn’t cancel on ESPN; it was the Garden Gulag that feared the radio appearance. In the end, what kind of message does that send to the team? How does it make Woodson look as a leader? It certainly isn’t one that says man up and win three ballgames in the next five days.

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Yankeeography Focusing on Michael was Long Overdue

This entry was posted on May 1st, 2013 @ 9:03 am by Jed Weisberger.
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YES Network finally got around to putting together and airing a “Yankeeography’’ featuring Gene Michael.

Perhaps I’m a bit prejudiced about the production, but I think it is one of the best this outstanding series has aired.

“Oh, I was lucky with a lot of those trades that went down,’’ said Michael, 74, who has been the Yankees’ “Super Scout,’’ officially Senior Vice President and Special Advisor presently, since 1966. “Some of those guys made me look good.’’

Like Paul O’Neill, whom he acquired for popular Yankees prospect Roberto Kelly Nov. 3, 1992. O’Neill easily surpassed Kelly in both individual and team accomplishments, during his tenure as Yankees general manager from 1990-95.

“I liked Roberto a lot,’’ Michael said, “but we were very right-handed at the time. We needed a left-handed bat and a player with intangibles. Cincinnati asked about Kelly, and we made what turned out to be a great deal for us.’’

That was just one of many moves – including the rebuilding of the Yankees farm system, that set the tone for the Yankees Dynasty of the late 1990s – and the program finally gives a man who batted .229 in a 973-game big-league career, spent mostly with the Yankees, credit for what he has done.

Insiders have long known this about the man who, as a light-hitting shortstop, perfected the hidden-ball trick, then, as outsiders now realize, to become one of the sharpest talent scouts baseball has ever seen.

These days, you will not only see Michael at meetings with Cashman and others in New York, but also watching Yankees prospects at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He’ll be totally focused, taking note after note on each player.

“Gotta see the kids, what they’ve got and how they are developing,’’ said Michael, who will get a glimpse of the Yankees’ Class-A prospects when the Charleston RiverDogs visit the Lakewood BlueClaws in a series beginning tonight.

Michael is most-known for being the force behind the trade that brought the Yankees star first baseman Tino Martinez from Seattle between the 1995 and 1996 seasons.  The Yankees received Martinez, Jeff Nelson and Jim Mecir for Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis.

The trade wasn’t all that easy to complete, Michael reveals.

“It  was at the time I was stepping down (as GM) and Seattle wanted Andy Pettitte.  It was tough to part with either Pettitte or Hitchcock, who we did trade, And I liked Russ Davis as well, but we had to replace Don Mattingly.

“There were some things about Pettitte, and his determination to be one of the best that set him apart. I wanted the Yankees to keep him, and we did. Hitchcock was in the trade.’’

While both Hitchcock, won 13 games for Seattle in 1996, and Davis hit 20 or more homers in a season as a Mariner a few times, Martinez and Pettitte certainly overshadowed them.

“As I said, I got lucky a few times.’’

And appreciated. When the Boston Red Sox approached the Yankees in 2002 about Michael becoming their general manager, permission was denied.

The man built the Yankees’ 1990s dynasty, and his influence has helped keep the Yankees’ farm system strong. He enjoys watching Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Slade Haethcott and Jose Ramirez in Trenton. He’ll be taking notes on Charleston’s Gabe Encinas and Dante Bichette Jr. at Lakewood this week.

The Yankeeography was overdue. Michael has done as much to mold the Yankees over the last 30 years as anyone.

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Binghamton’s Ceciliani Aims for Health, Success

This entry was posted on April 23rd, 2013 @ 9:21 am by Nicole Sorce.
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PORTLAND, Maine – It feels like an eternity for Binghamton Mets outfielder Darrell Ceciliani since he was selected by the New York Mets in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.

He had just finished his senior season at Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, Wash., where he ranked third in school history for single-season RBIs with 41.

“That was a long time ago!” laughed Ceciliani before the B-Mets opened their road series at the Portland SeaDogs Monday evening. “I wanted to play pro ball my whole life, and that was the one thing on my mind – just hoping it would work out.”

These days, the one thing on his mind is staying healthy. The 22-year old, who made his professional debut with Kingsport in 2009, has been plagued by hamstring issues for the past two seasons, beginning in 2011.

“I pulled my hamstring in Savannah the first time in a game, just running out to first base,” he recalled. “I missed a little bit of time, and it was frustrating, but I was ready to rehab and get back as soon as possible.”

Ceciliani played in 109 games for the Sand Gnats in 2011, batting .259 (109-for-421) with 23 doubles and 41 RBIs.

Binghamton's Darrell Ceciliani is looking to put together a strong season in 2013.  (Photo by Nicole Sorce)

Binghamton’s Darrell Ceciliani is looking to put together a strong season in 2013.
(Photo by Nicole Sorce)

He thought he would be “good to go” after that, but sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. This was unfortunately the case for Ceciliani.

“The next year, I pulled my hamstring four times in St. Lucie, and that was tough,” he said. “That was honestly the worst because it just kept recurring.”

He was limited to 23 games and 85 at-bats last season. The only positive was he hit .329 in limited action with St. Lucie.

This was the last thing anybody could’ve expected for the outfielder after he posted impressive numbers in the New York Penn League during his 2010 stint with the Brooklyn Cyclones. Ceciliani led the league that year with a .351 batting average, 95 hits, and 56 runs. He also earned All-Star honors and won the Brooklyn Sterling Award.

“The main thing I learned there was just going out and competing every day,” Ceciliani said of his time with the Cyclones. “Being healthy was another.”

In fact, a great deal of Ceciliani’s mental approach was shaped by two influential ex-major leaguers in Brooklyn – his manager, Wally Backman, and hitting coach Benny Distefano.

“They both had time in the big leagues and had been around awhile, so I just picked their brain for anything – the way to go about the game and all kinds of little things,” said Ceciliani, who was ranked as the 27th prospect in the Mets organization by Baseball America coming into 2013.

When Ceciliani headed to Savannah for the 2011 season, his focus shifted to establishing regularity on the field and at the plate while continuing to work on his mental approach.

“I was still down in the lower levels, and I wanted to improve every part of my game,” he recalled. “The main thing was just consistency.”

Now, the main thing for Ceciliani is staying healthy after five instances of hamstring pulls during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

“I have to stay healthy,” he declared. “My main goal is to be on the field for as many games and days as possible throughout the year.”

In the past, he had been more concerned about playing hard, working on his game, and competing.

“All that stuff is always a goal,” he said, “but my main goal is to play at least 130 games.”

During his injury-plagued 2012 season, he consulted with specialists in his home state of Oregon to introduce a new kind of consistency into his baseball routine.

“We figured out the root of the problem and got on a routine to maintain my hamstrings and health, and I’ve just been doing that ever since,” said Ceciliani.

His daily routine now includes the help of a trainer to stretch and perform exercises in an attempt to prevent missing even more playing time.

“I have a big ritual now. It takes me 30 or 40 minutes before each game to get ready to go,” he explained. “I just stick with that every day and try to stay off the DL with a lot of injury prevention, maintenance, and strengthening, mainly.”

While it may seem Ceciliani is under the stress of preventing another hamstring injury, he is just relieved to have the opportunity to play regularly with Binghamton.

“I don’t necessarily feel any pressure. I just go out and play every day and do what I do,” he said. “If there’s any pressure at all, it’s of staying healthy. That’s the biggest thing.”

Perhaps this season would be a little more stressful for the bouncing-back Ceciliani if the dynamic of Binghamton’s clubhouse didn’t include exceptional team chemistry.

“Oh, we get along great,” said Ceciliani with a smile. “We’re always having fun.”

The outfielder already has four stolen bases this season as the B-Mets are off to one of their better starts (10-8 in the Eastern League East) in recent history. And take it from Ceciliani – they are enjoying every moment thus far.

“When you’re winning, it’s a lot easier to have fun,” he added. “Right now we’re playing well and just having a good time doing it.”

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Binghamton’s Montero Pleased with Double-A Start

This entry was posted on April 9th, 2013 @ 2:48 pm by Nicole Sorce.
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Binghamton’s Rafael Montero enjoys relaxing and listening to music prior to his starts.

Binghamton’s Rafael Montero enjoys relaxing and listening to music prior to his starts.

ERIE, Pa. – The Binghamton Mets had little to be excited about last season. Aside from a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Division and a less-than-respectable 68-74 record, the squad also ranked ninth out of the Eastern League’s 12 teams in pitching, allowing 564 earned runs and walking 428 batters while tallying 994 strikeouts.

Meanwhile in Class-A Savannah and St. Lucie, right-hander Rafael Montero was posting some of the most impressive numbers a New York Mets pitching prospect has in recent memory. He went 11-5 with a 2.73 earned run average while walking just 19 in 2012 and intends to continue his ways with Double-A Binghamton this year.

“I want to keep doing what I’m doing – just throw strikes,” said Montero before the B-Mets victory over the Erie SeaWolves at Jerry Uht Park in Erie, P.A., last Monday. “That’s my strength, and that’s what I want to do.”

Montero struck out 110 hitters last season, which accounts for 11 percent of the strikeouts the B-Mets had across the board in 2012.

He won his first game of the season when the B-Mets beat the Akron Aeros to open the 2013 campaign April 4, allowing just two hits and one earned run in an out shy of six innings. As a whole, Binghamton is off to a promising 4-1 start on their opening road trip.

“I feel very happy,” Montero said about his first appearance, “and I feel good.”

Between starts, you can find him working hard during bullpen sessions as well as in the gym. As far as his mental approach is concerned, Montero prefers to keep it simple and not think too much.

“Before the game, I’ll just listen to music – just put my headphones in,” he explained. “That’s when I concentrate the best.”

His goals for himself and the team this season are not quite as simple, yet the challenges of a long baseball season won’t downplay what Montero hopes will be the outcome of 2013.

“My expectation is to win and be a champion,” he confidently declared.

Montero was scheduled to start Tuesday night in Erie and should be on the mound again during the B-Mets’ opening home stand Sunday, a game he’s particularly looking forward to.

“It’s a new season, and I’m looking forward to opening at home,” said Montero. “I’m ready to go.”

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Mike Silva Interview With Steppin Out Magazine

This entry was posted on April 7th, 2013 @ 8:43 pm by Mike Silva.
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7Questions4.3 (1)


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Adams Defines RailRiders Mission of Starting Fresh

This entry was posted on April 5th, 2013 @ 7:26 am by Nicole Sorce.
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David Adams is back at third base for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after an interesting week.

MOOSIC, Pa. – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders opened their new PNC Field on Thursday evening with a disappointing extra-innings, 8-4 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox.

While the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate may not have had the freshest of fresh starts in the books, their outlook remains just as optimistic as before the first pitch of the season was thrown (not to be confused with the ceremonial first pitch of Hall of Fame legend Reggie Jackson).

“The ultimate goal for everybody is to win ball games,” third baseman David Adams stated after going 2-5 with a double in the opener. “Today, obviously we didn’t do that.”  Adams batted leadoff in the game after hitting third much of last season at Double-A Trenton.

Perhaps the most prime example of a fresh start one can find on the Rail Riders’ roster is Adams, who, to say the least, had more than an interesting spring training. Highly regarded as one of the top infield prospects in the Yankees organization, the last thing Adams expected in Tampa, Fla., was to be suddenly out of a job.

“I was shocked, but I never felt betrayed. It’s a business and I completely understood,” Adams said on being released from the Yankees’ 40-man roster to make room for Vernon Wells. “I wasn’t healthy, and they needed to make a roster move, and it completely made sense that I was the guy.”

The Yankees released Adams on hopes he would clear waivers and be re-signed to a minor-league contract, and six days later, that’s exactly what wound up happening. Ironically, just around the time, his team would be starting over with their new stadium and management.

“I think every year is a start-over,” Adams said. “The goal for me is to look at it as a new season, come in fresh, and just be consistent.”

This season marks Adams’ first season in Triple-A, but to him, “baseball is baseball.” The only real difference he could identify between his current role and playing in Double-A is the overall consistency of rosters across the league.

“Obviously the guys are more consistent at this level,” Adams said, “and I think that’s the biggest key – consistency.”

Yet while the RailRiders failed to show such consistency in their first outing of the season, Adams was glad to be a part of history at PNC Field.

“It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful,” Adams described the new park. “We have great fan support here, and it was nice seeing everyone out on the first night. I’m excited to be here.”

Factors such as if he stays healthy, plays consistently, or even another injury in the Bronx, could influence the Yankees to purchase Adams’ minor-league contract sooner rather than later. However, whether or not that happens won’t affect his positive morale.

“I don’t think about that honestly. I just play baseball,” Adams said. “I believe in myself, and if I do well and perform, I’ll get opportunities somewhere.”

Adams, after posting a .306 average in 86 games with 23 doubles, 8 home runs, and 48 runs batted in at Trenton in 2012, is right where he needs to be. The only factor that could hold him back would be more injuries, especially after spending the past few seasons being plagued with ankle and back issues.

“Everyone has routines to keep up on the field. For me, it’s more preventative-maintenance stuff, like staying flexible,” Adams said.

It’s not so much about what he’s not doing, either. Adams has learned that he can only push his body so far.

“That’s the big key for me now – not overdoing things,” the third baseman added. “I know in the past I just overdid stuff and would just go, go, go. I need to learn to cut back and be smart about what I do.”

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McCarver Will Leave Millions of Opinions Behind

This entry was posted on March 29th, 2013 @ 8:26 am by Jed Weisberger.
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FOX baseball analyst Tim McCarver announced earlier this week this season would be his last.  He’s 72 and he obviously feels like taking a step back.

After a 21-year career in Major League Baseball (1959-1980 with St. Louis and Philadelphia twice, along with Boston and Montreal) – plus 33 years in the booth beginning in 1980 – one can’t blame him.

McCarver, when he played with both the Cardinals and Phillies for the first time, no doubt honed his analytical skills as a catcher, having caught no-hitters by Rick Wise and Bill Stoneman. This was further assured during his second (1975-80) stint with the Phillies, during which he served as Steve Carlton’s personal catcher. Since Carlton had cut off relations with the media in 1973, it was often left to McCarver to comment on the pitcher’s effort and feelings about his starts in postgame interviews.

Winner of three Emmy Awards, he actually began broadcasting as the Co-Host of an HBO program known as Race For The Pennant. His first game coverage was with the Phillies revered duo of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn, and was a backup voice on NBC’s Game of the Week.

A native of Memphis, he went on to work at ABC, CBS and presently with FOX with Joe Buck. Locally, he called Phillies games from 1980-82, Mets from 1983-1998, Yankees from 1990-2001 and San Francisco in 2002.

He has been in the booth for 13 World Series and, either as a gamed broadcaster or reporter, every League Championship Series since 1984.

“I enjoy discussing the nuances of the game when I’m broadcasting,’’ McCarver said in a past interview. “It’s always been my style.’’

McCarver’s broadcasts are not always perfect, and he will admit to that. He has, at times, mispronounced names and misinterpreted rules. He has gone over the line here and there as well, an example is how in 2010 he said the Yankees treated former manager Joe Torre “how Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia treated its generals.’’

For that last mention, a forced apology resulted.

There’s little doubt McCarver’s style has irritated some fans. One thing Red Sox and Yankees fans often agree on is both groups feel McCarver openly roots for their teams to lose. It’s hardly that way, but some will swear McCarver “detests’’ my team.

It’s the price of being a national network sports broadcaster.

The biggest criticism McCarver hasd always faced is his habit of overanalyzing. There are times, on the air, when this does become annoying, especially when two or three key moments occur that might make the original issue moot.

This likely has been exacerbated the past few years in his sharing a broadcast booth with Joe Buck, whose father, Jack, was a beloved broadcaster, setting a standard his son will never reach in the baseball booth for certain. Inane comments, mixed with overanalyzing do not translate into a good broadcast.

He has also had a few run-ins with players, notably Deion Sanders, whom he criticized for playing both football and baseball on the same day, and Manny Ramirez, whom he called out for “sloppy, lazy play.’’

Sanders reacted by throwing a bucket of water on McCarver in the Atlanta clubhouse, Ramirez, as was his style, just ignored him.

McCarver, who was last year’s Baseball hall of Fame Ford Frick Award winner, leaves a stamp on the game.  His best days may have been with Al Michaels and Jim Palmer on ABC from 1985-89 and 1994-95 via ABC on the ill-conceived Baseball Network.

He’ll retire after this year, certainly leaving millions of opinions behind.

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Those Big East Basketball Schools Cashed In With FOX

This entry was posted on March 22nd, 2013 @ 9:00 am by Jed Weisberger.
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Ever wonder why the “Catholic 7’’ were so eager to leave their Big East football fellows behind, then adding Butler, Creighton and Xavier to their ranks?

The move not only shed locals St. John’s and Seton Hall, along with Providence, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette and DePaul of football, it enriched them.

This grouping, which will retain the Big East name, hold its tournament in Madison Square Garden in 2014 and perhaps expand its ranks in a few years, recently signed a 12-year, $500 million TV pact with FOX.

No doubt the new Big East, with this contract worth $41.6 million a year, more than double what the old and  forced-to-be-renamed Big East is getting under a new seven-year football-basketball deal with ESPN worth $126 million, paying $20 million per year over the final six years, made out big-time,

“What we have is a match made in heaven,’’ Creighton president Rev. Timothy Lannon told reporters. How apropos that is.

ESPN matched a contract negotiated by the NBC Sports Network with the remaining old Big East schools to retain media rights.

No doubt the new Big East will be the centerpiece of the new FOX1’s college basketball programming,  Fans of St. John’s and Seton Hall will no doubt see more of their favorites on the channel with this arrangement, which begins in 2013-14.

And, by the way, you can’t nickname the new Big East the “Catholic 10,’’ because, as of this week, when it added Butler, which is not a Catholic University, in fact pledged to be “non-sectarian ‘’ in its charter, it showed diversity is a key to blue-chip basketball.

In ways all this will be nostalgic, taking many back to the days when St, John’s, with Looie, and Seton Hall, with P.J., had programs right there with the best.  Top recruits in the Greater New York area, especially from the parochial school’s top programs, may be enticed to stay home.

Tumult ruled the Big East the last few years, with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame (remaining an independent in football) defecting to the Atlantic Coast Conference, West Virginia to the Big 12 and Rutgers to the Big 10. Previously Virginia Tech and Miami exited.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC in all sports this summer, as does Notre Dame in all sports but football.  Louisville will play in the old Big East, Conference TBN at the moment,  in all sports for 2013-2014 before, like Rutgers, departing.

Conference TBN will have Rutgers, Southern Methodist, Temple, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, South Florida and Louisville competing in all sports in 2013-14. Tulane will join as a full member on 2014-15, with East Carolina a football member likely receiving an invitation to join as a full member.

Navy will join as a football-only member in 2014, with a likely 12th school to be added at that time to allow for a football championship game.

Commissioner Mike Aresco, who worked as Executive Vice President , Programming of CBS Sports before coming to the old Big East. He promises a new name for his league, which will likely hold its 2014 basketball championship in Hartford, in a few weeks.

Conference TBN will have to re-establish itself. It will have no Greater New York presence.  As of 2014-15, only Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple and Navy will have any semblance of an Eastern presence. Will a Houston-Memphis or Temple-SMU rivalry catch anyone’s fancy?

Those Big East basketball schools certainly knew what they were doing, and how to bring in the media bucks.

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NCAA Tournament TV Coverage Has Never Been Better

This entry was posted on March 18th, 2013 @ 12:38 pm by Jed Weisberger.
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For fans, the possibility of viewing the entire NCAA Tournament has never been better.  Nobody needs to pay extra – on cable or satellite – nor does anyone need to search through a myriad of channels.

All the action will be handled on four outlets – CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV (formerly Court TV).  And the tournament will have a definite New York sound.

Marv Albert will lead off the coverage, calling the first play-in doubleheader Tuesday night with Steve Kerr and Craig Sager on TruTV (DirecTV Channel 246). North Carolina A&T will face Liberty at 6:30 and Middle Tennessee State will engage Saint Mary’s at 9 in Dayton, Ohio, as part of  “The First Four.”

The addition of Albert will certainly add zest to those games. He will also call second-round games on TruTV.

Also scheduled to work are familiar New York voices such as Spero Dedes, Ian Eagle and Bill Raftery.

This is the best setup the NCAA Tournament has ever had.  Coverage has evolved over several years to what it is presently.

Years ago, NCAA Productions beamed games regionally to the home area of a team.  Not all opening-round games were televised. NBC handled the tournament from 1969-81, with Dick Enberg, Billy Packer Al McGuire the lead team.

CBS gained rights to the tournament in 1981, and, in conjunction with ESPN, carried the event in that manner until 1991. ESPN attempted to telecast as many first-round games as possible – over 24 hours. It was ESPN’s first major postseason contract and, with capacity reached with one channel, led to the creation of ESPN2 and other related channels.

Then, from 1991-2010, CBS earned rights to televise every game, but not all games were seen in all areas, prompting fans who might have attended an East Coast school, but living on the West Coast, to find fault with that format.

A fan had to find a facility that had a C-Band satellite until 2002, when DirecTV offered a “Mega Madness’’ pay package of all games. Like its other sports packages, games available on a local CBS station were blacked out by Zip Code.  The package cost $69, and ran through 2010, after which it was really not needed.

Various on-line packages, at times free and at times pay, including “March Madness  On Demand,’’were added over the past several years as well as high-speed internet took hold in most of the United States.

Fans can watch games on-line live, both on a computer and on various mobile devices. Check www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live/ for information.  Games aired on CBS can simply be streamed. Games carried on cable – TBS, TNT and TruTV – will require authentication and log-in to your cable or satellite provider like HBOGo or MaxGo.

Since 2010, all games – with CBS and Turner as partners – are broadcast live nationally, with CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV handling all the telecasts.  Life has never been better for the viewer. The present contract, with a few adjustments in what outlet airs what rounds, is in effect through 2024.

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FOX Sports 1 Offers Needed Style Alternative to ESPN

This entry was posted on March 8th, 2013 @ 8:56 am by Jed Weisberger.
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Earlier this week, FOX announced what had been talked about for several months – a national sports-oriented channel to be known as FOX Sports 1.

The channel, which will launch Aug. 17, 2013, in 90 million cable and satellite homes, will offer an alternative to long-standing all-sports entity ESPN.

FOX’s launch of this channel, which will replace NASCAR-oriented Speed – there are also plans for FOX Sports 2 to eventually replace Fuel TV, another motorsports-oriented offering, in due time.  FOX thus joins the other major networks in operating a related sports channel, as ABC has ESPN and CBS and NBC their respective sports networks. Other changes viewers will see is FOX Soccer becoming FXX, a spillover entertainment partner to FX. Programming from Speed, Fuel and FOX Soccer will move to FOX Sports 1.

The network will be in a stronger launch position than either the CBS or NBC Sports Networks, due to FOX’s vast reach with its nearly two-dozen regional networks. Cable and satellite operators will like the fact its initial monthly cost per subscriber will be about 25 percent of the $5-plus fee they pay to ESON.

In the beginning, in addition to a studio panel show “Rush Hour,’’ hosted by Regis Philbin, and other studio shows pertaining to the NFL and a daily morning sports show, FOX 1 will feature college football and basketball from the Big 12, Conference USA and Pac-12, soccer, boxing and martial arts,

Regular-season Major League Baseball, including a Saturday “Game of the Week,’’ will debut in 2014, along with select post-season action. NASCAR ‘s Sprint Cup joins in 2015. The result will be less sports programming on FOX’s affiliates, such as WNYW (Channel  5) in New York.

FOX is also at the forefront of digital delivery, so expect FOX Sports 1 to be available on your laptop, tablet or smartphone as well as your television.

Its launch comes at a good time, and the FOX Sports approach to reporting the news will give viewers a choice in how they want their sports delivered.  ESPN, which used to be the undisputed leader in sports reporting, is more of an entertainment outlet these days.

Viewers will have a choice each morning to see and hear what happened in games, other developments and interviews and opinions stated in an orderly manner. Many may choose to tune to that instead of the rantings of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, which have become representative of the ESPN brand.

Both Bayless and Smith are examples of how ESON has lost its way, delivering self-serving, often off-base shouting diatribes serving little or no purpose.  This has become ESPN’s standard, whether the guys in Bristol want to admit it or not. It’s out-of-control, lousy television.

“SportsCenter’’ has also become an entertainment vehicle.  Serious reporting, while present in some areas, has often taken a back seat in Bristol. FOX’s style puts reporting ahead of entertainment in the sports arena.

Erin Andrews will likely play a major role in FOX Sports 1’s presentations. The viewer will decide if she succeeds. So far, her presence has been lower key with FOX than it was with ESPN.

It will take time for FOX Sports 1 to find its overall style. Will it challenge ESPN?  In some areas, such as news reporting, one expects it will right off the bat. In pure overall content, that’s another story.

Given FOX’s resources and programming in its stable, it is legitimate to state FOX Sports 1 is the strongest sports entity to take the field since ESPN.

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