When it debuted the week prior to Super Bowl XLVII, “The Crossover” showed promise as a staple on NBC Sports Network. Moreso due to the presence of NBC’s big acquisition, Michelle Beadle, on the program.
Her pairing with Dave Briggs, a Boston sports television veteran who had most recently been on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends,” had to spark some chemistry in order for it to work.
In fact, upon the show’s launch, its executive producer, Sam Flood, had this to say about the show’s description: “It’s about personality. It’s about people you want to spend time with. It’s the people you want to be at the bar and hang out with, and these are the two people you want to do that with.”
After less than four months, it has become clear that NBC Sports Network does not want to spend time with Dave Briggs anymore.
When the show returns from a scheduled hiatus this week, it will possess three things: “New set, new cast, better vibe.”
Translation: “The Crossover” will now be hosted solely by Beadle, with a rotation of co-hosts. Briggs, meanwhile, will still remain with NBC and is already set to embark on a new venture with the company. (Given his past on Fox News, could it be MSNBC?)
And I’m guessing it’ll cost a fraction of what ESPN laid down for their new “SportsCenter” studio, for NBCSN to invest in the “new set” and “better vibe” for “The Crossover.”
The 6 PM ET time slot in which the show airs is crowded real estate among sports-oriented cable networks. You’ve already got the early evening edition of “SportsCenter” on ESPN, Jim Rome’s broadcast on CBS Sports Network, and starting this August, the brand new Fox Sports 1′s “Football Live,” which will have a rotation of co-hosts – kinda like “Crossover” will, with Beadle being the constant.
It goes without saying that Erin Andrews will likely be appearing on “Football Live” several times a week.
I guess NBC is sharpening up its claws in the battle of the former ESPN personalities catfight with FS1.
So will Dave Briggs be missed? If this sampling of Twitter reaction during the premiere week of “The Crossover” is any indication, probably not.
Before I paint the picture of ESPN’s annual upfront presentation for 2013, let me first give you a quick recap of last year’s edition: the place was packed with advertisers and sports media observers (of course, the show is mostly for the advertisers). The headliners were “stars (including would-be ESPN analyst Ray Lewis), a marching band (the one belonging to The Ohio State University) [and] mascots (Mr. Met and Al E. Gator, among others).” Many of the announcements last year included the unveiling of a new ESPN Radio app, and the expansion of Bill Simmons’ Grantland franchise.
You could say that this year’s ESPN upfront presentation was just a little bit different: oh, sure, the ad buyers and sports media flacks packed the house again, and sports stars were once again present; in fact, New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera “closed” the event (watch the righty, currently in his final year in the major leagues, shadow Lewis and become an analyst next year; in fact, bank on it). And yes, there was some more mascot mischief.
But when you’ve got a competitor in Fox Sports 1 launching in a few months - perhaps the first network in the Worldwide Leader’s existence that can call themselves a legitimate competitor – not only do you have to top your previous upfront, oh, no: you also have to top Fox Sports 1′s upfront in March.
Yes, there was your average slew of announcements – new slate of “30 For 30″ documentary films; new football (“NFL Insiders”, replacing the incumbent “NFL32″) and soccer (“ESPNFC”) programs; new “ESPN The Magazine” “body issue” featuring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in all his tattooed glory, much to the chagrin of David Whitley.
But there were two gigantic things that ESPN unveiled at this year’s upfront.
First, starting next year, ESPN’s “SportsCenter” shows will emanate from a brand new, state-of-the-art – make that continent-of-the-art, it’s so huge – 193,000 square foot studio, being billed “Digital Center 2.” Estimated cost to erect the set: $125 million.
Yes, cable subscribers, that is where your hard-earned inflated cable bill dollars is going.
Oh, and you’ll also be footing the bill for fuel that ESPN will be needing to get around in their brand new bus!
The vehicle, dubbed “SportsCenter On The Scene,” will be mobile for many sporting events year-round. Among its features, according to the network, are “satellite technology, bureau kit camera, lighting and equipment to do a live shot.” Yes, but will it prevent the trajectory of rogue water bottles being thrown in its direction?
By the way, ESPN’s “SportsCenter On The Scene” bus is said to be the first vehicle for the Worldwide Leader since Stephen A. Smith’s old late-night talk show on ESPN2, “Quite Frankly.”
And ESPN president John Skipper was quite frank in talking about the soon-to-be-launched Fox Sports 1 and other competitors that are already in battle (CBS and NBC Sports Network, just to name a couple) in the sports cable trenches. “We like competition,” he admitted. “It makes us better.”
Well, if it took Fox being committed to a new national sports cable network for ESPN to make a dramatic upgrade in their “SportsCenter” set and add a pair of wheels, what took them so long?
Yes, who needs the duo from the Canadian version of “SportsCenter” (that would be Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, who will be leaving TSN to anchor Fox Sports 1′s nightly “Fox Sports Live” program) when you can watch who we have in a breathtaking new structure!
There’s ESPN bidding aggressively on sports broadcasting contracts – and it is these contracts, as well as long-term carriage deals with cable companies, that Skipper says is the backbone of ESPN’s success – and then there’s flat-out largesse.
A bus? Really? Were plans for a “SportsCenter In The Sky” helicopter a little out of hand?
In a related item, earlier in the day, Fox Sports fired a salvo and announced that when the current Speed channel morphs into Fox Sports 1 on August 17, its action sports-themed network Fuel will indeed be transformed into Fox Sports 2 on the very same day. A third Fox Sports network (Fox College Sports?) can’t be far behind at this point.
But for now, with its splashy “look at how much money and talent we have” upfront, ESPN wins the day in the end.
The question is, will they win the fight with the elephant in the room that will be Fox Sports 1?Read More
Face it: there’s not much to be excited about if you’re a New York Mets fan.
Worse if you’re an employee of SportsNet New York, the regional sports network mostly owned by the team.
So, as the Mets go through the motions and actually beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, you get the sense that SNY staffers are, well, a little bored. Where else would you go to relieve your boredom?
That’s where SNY “SportsNite” anchor Kirk Gimenez, who used to work in the same capacity at ESPNews during the 2000′s, went as network coverage of the game was wrapping up. It is believed to be this tweet that set off what would be his own personal Peter King moment, mixed with a little Anthony Weiner:
Compelled to respond, Gimenez intended to send this to the Twitter user under the handle @Lud_Bug5, but it somehow ended up being sent to all of his followers (capture via Total Sports Blog):
Moments after that tweet was posted, Gimenez actually remembered how to send a direct message, and sent one to Mets fan Don (responsible for the above screengrab, by the way), who says, well, he meant to do that.
“Guy at work dared me to tweet it, but didn’t say I had to add (a) handle or couldn’t delete it,” he wrote.
So he’s taking the “I did it on a dare” defense (remember, those SNY folks must be bored out of their skulls on summer evenings). At least he didn’t parrot Weiner and say he was hacked.
So if he intended to send that “winning boobs” tweet, then he likely had thoughts about cheating on his wife. Yep, according to his SNY bio, Gimenez has a wife, Marisol, and the couple resides in New Jersey. For now, anyway.
“You don’t have Ike (to have sex with), but you’ve got me?”
You’re probably going to have a divorce settlement by the time the Mets are mathematically eliminated this year.
Speaking of eliminated, that’s exactly what happened to Gimenez’ Twitter account. Yep, he deleted it.
As for the other woman in this Mets “winning boobs” Twitter triangle, Lud_Bug5? That account is gone, as well. Previously, the bio read, “#SetonHall Alumna. #Mets #Jets #NotreDame Come for the #WinningBoobs, stay for the raunchy good time.”
Thanks to the magic of Topsy, I was able to capture some of the woman’s reaction in the hours after Gimenez’ pitiful attempt at a “dare”:
I also uncovered a tweet from last fall which explains an argument between the two “was totally staged and made up,” according to the woman. She identified herself as “Heather Nicole” but I guess we can dub her “Lennay Kekua” after this tweet:
So perhaps there’s a chance Gimenez’ Twitter account deactivation is also just “totally staged,” too, and once this blows over, he’ll be tweeting again.
Not so much if he wants to meet Marisol “in 5″, however.
This has not been a very good year on Twitter for the New York Mets. Just days ago, their spokesman tweeted out a fictitious news item about their young stud pitcher, Matt Harvey, being granted permission to miss his scheduled start on Wednesday night to watch a New York Rangers playoff game.
And at the very start of the year, a fan pulled a fast one on infielder Daniel Murphy during an offseason Twitter chat session.
Maybe that’s what Kirk Gimenez needs to do: Send Marisol an “I’m Sorry” creampie from Village Inn.
And if he can’t reconcile with his wife, the least he can do is rejoin Twitter. We need more enlightening tweets like this:
UPDATE, 5.11.13: A source is reporting that Gimenez has been suspended by SNY. The source claims he was “given the time off” so that he can “smooth things over with his wife.”
Incidentally, Gimenez was not anchoring “SportsNite” on Friday night; that was handled by Robin “Did You See The Rangers/Penguins Game Last Night?” Lundberg.Read More
But what was heard early Thursday morning on New York’s ESPN Radio 98.7 really takes the cake.
Robin Lundberg, who hosts a daily, one-hour show at 3 AM – I’ll give them credit for putting on live, local talent in overnight hours, but just one hour? Come on – had asked listeners several times to comment on the previous night’s playoff game between the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. (They’re actually playing the Washington Capitals.)
Mind you, ESPN 98.7 is only the flagship station of the Rangers.
So for Lundberg to make this mistake not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in twenty minutes probably won’t sit well with hockey purists, much less Rangers fans.
The most baffling of these gaffes has to be the third one, which follows a minute-long conversation with his producer who provided insight on Game 4 of the Rangers/Capitals series. At two points (4:15 and 4:35) during the chat, Chris Mitchell mentions “the Capitals.” Seconds later, Lundberg takes a call and asks him, “What were you watching? Heat/Bulls or Rangers/Penguins?”
It took a tweet halfway through Lundberg’s one-hour show informing him of his repeated mistake. Then and only then did he acknowledge, “I know that. I misspoke because the Islanders play the Penguins” on Thursday night, in a playoff game that will actually air on ESPN 98.7 (the Islanders’ usual radio home is Hofstra University’s 88.7 WRHU).
If you “misspeak” one time, fine. But to do so four times in 50% of your radio show (did I mention it’s only an hour long?), all while assuring listeners, “I’m not trying to insult any hockey fans” (2:55), is downright mind-boggling.
You saw the Rangers game, Robin Lundberg. You said so several times on your program. But it looks like you weren’t paying enough attention to the Rangers’ opponent in that game.
I wonder if he’s going to Habib “Islanders/Capitals” on his next show.Read More
Mike Francesa is the most popular sports radio host in New York. In fact, he’s strong enough to carry a list of sports talkers coast-to-coast.
So it probably doesn’t matter if he even watches hockey, let alone discuss the NHL on his show.
On Wednesday’s edition of his WFAN radio/YES Network program, he actually did something that few people expected him to do: Not only did he talk about the New York Islanders, in the midst of a first-round series, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins at two games apiece, he actually led his show with the Brooklyn-bound NHL squad.
Perhaps it was because center John Tavares, who scored in two straight playoff games, was scheduled to appear on Francesa’s program in the first half-hour.
But there was a big-time tweaking at Francesa a couple of hours later from the fingertips of his rival, WEPN/”ESPN 98.7″ afternoon host Michael Kay:
And yes, at one point, Francesa actually fielded a call from a listener asking him of he was aware of what people on Twitter were saying about him and his radio opponent.
Anyway, here’s more Twitter feedback regarding Francesa vs. Kay:
Last month, Faith Hill announced a “difficult decision” to depart as the artist performing prior to “Sunday Night Football” on NBC for six seasons.
On Tuesday, NBC announced that another country recording artist, Carrie Underwood, would replace Hill on the broadcasts starting with the season kickoff game on September 5.
I would not be surprised if this news did not sit well with Faith Hill. This video from a country music award show tells you all you need to know:
Anyway, I have a gut feeling that Faith will eventually be back in the game before long.
Because there are two other nationally televised weekly football broadcasts that could definitely use her services as an upgrade.
And who are ESPN and NFL Network to say no to the woman who belted out a loose version of a Joan Jett song customized for the opponents of that night’s game on the top-rated show in primetime?
Last year, in conjunction with “Thursday Night Football” expanding from eight games per season to thirteen, NFLN brought in Cee Lo Green to perform a theme song to the beat of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” As far as we know, the deal is for at least one season.
But with Faith Hill being a free agent, NFLN could very well tell Cee Lo, “forget you” – or something similar, anyway.
Then, there’s ESPN, whose “Monday Night Football” was for years the model for this device, with Hank Williams, Jr. being known for asking that burning question to viewers, “Are you ready for some football?” The song had been performed before “MNF” starting in 1989 on its original network, ABC, carrying over to ESPN in 2006, until he decided to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler on the morning of October 3, 2011 – which happened to be a Monday; his intro was yanked from that night’s Buccaneers/Colts game. ESPN would later drop the singer from their “MNF” broadcasts altogether. Since then, they’ve been leaning on production pieces (similar to the “Journey” series on Fox’s NFL pregame show) and comedy bits airing before the game.
It’s clear that they can’t go this route forever; the current period of pregame pieces should act as a buffer between Hank Jr.’s tenure on “MNF” and his eventual replacement; further, there would be less backlash to let time subside before deciding on a new “MNF” artist, as opposed to just dragging a singer off the street to replace Hank Jr. on the October 10, 2011 broadcast. Certainly, Hank Jr., with his updated version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” being crooned into living rooms and bars for over two decades, has etched himself into football lore, and ESPN respects that.
And now that Bocephus is pretty much out of the football picture (his recent doubling down on Obama will all but cement that), it’s easier for ESPN to move on to a new artist for the “Monday Night Football” intro.
Could you imagine the innovator of the primetime football game open standing pat with generic intros, while the weekly primetime NFL broadcasts on NBC and NFL Network have artists belting one out?
I say, ESPN shouldn’t stand for being upstaged by the likes of Cee Lo Green. And by hiring Faith Hill to continue her career as an NFL kickoff singer, that would mean NFL Network will have to stand for, well, Cee Lo Green.
Of course, this is all contingent on whether or not Faith Hill’s schedule can accommodate getting back into the grind of recording a song for several weeks. She’d likely need to learn a new one, no doubt. She could also decide to take a year or two off from the NFL.
But something tells me the selection of Carrie Underwood to replace her on NBC is going to speed up this process rather quickly.
Are you ready for some… catfight?Read More
Once in awhile, there will be a sports broadcaster that will land in a market, and work a host of sporting events in the area. In New York, it was Marv Albert. In Los Angeles, it was Dick Enberg.
And in Indiana, the person that best fits this description could be Greg Rakestraw.
His play-by-play resume consists mostly of college athletics; you may have seen him calling a game on ESPNU. He’s also served as pregame and postgame host on the Indianapolis Colts radio network, based at WFNI-AM/”1070 The Fan.” He’s actually been aligned with the station for a couple of years. Prior to, he had toiled at two other sports radio stations in Indy: WNDE-AM 1260, where he was a producer and reporter from 1996 until 2000; and WXLW-AM 950, the market’s former ESPN Radio affiliate, where he had been a jack of all trades, notably program director, for seven years (2002-2009).
Indy’s current ESPN Radio affiliate, Emmis Communications’ “1070 The Fan,” recently launched an FM translator at 107.5 FM which simulcasts some local programming, and also clears some shows from “the mothership”; local hosts on 1070 include ESPN announcer Dan Dakich.
Some of Rakestraw’s tasks at “The Fan” since 2011 include subbing for Dakich’s midday show, as well as the afternoon program hosted by John Michael Vincent (best known by his initials, “JMV”) when neither host is available for whatever reason. He’s also maintained a blog on the “Fan” website, titled “Rake’s Take.”
And now, Rake has but a giant take: he’s taking the program director position at the “Fan” tandem, a return to the PD chair for the revered local personality.
And even if he isn’t taking calls or doing play-by-play, Rakestraw will have a say in what you hear on the stations somehow.
“If you hear it on the air, Greg one way or another will have influence over it,” commented Bob Richards, the operations manager for Emmis’ cluster in Indianapolis, which includes WYXB-FM/”Soft Rock 105.7″.
In fact, as an added bonus, Rakestraw will be given the keys to operate the adult contemporary formatted music station as well.
This must be a first: a female-targeted music station that will be programmed by a man who’s worked in sports broadcasting for the last two decades. While the idea may sound far-fetched, it’s the current economics of the radio business that mostly dictates one person being a PD for two or more radio stations, regardless of the stations’ individual formats, and regardless of the programmers’ background in formats on radio.
That being said, Rakestraw’s following across the Hoosier State, combined with “Soft Rock 105.7″ usually being the top-rated radio station in Indianapolis not playing country music, should make for a winning team. It’ll be an odd pairing, but with Rake’s involvement in the station, they should continue holding their own.
As for Emmis’ other station in the Indianapolis market, news/talk WIBC, which had been heard for seven decades at AM 1070 before migrating to 93.1 FM, their new PD is the old “Fan” PD, David Wood. So the entire cluster will not be under Rake’s watch. But something tells me he would be open to the challenge.
I’m sure Greg Rakestraw would somehow find a way to balance Steve Simpson, high school basketball, and Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.”Read More
2013 is turning out to be a banner year for Warren Sapp.
And a welcome one, considering the hellish 2012 he’s endured.
Just three months after he was voted into this year’s class of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, the team that made his NFL career possible, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted him 12th overall in 1995, is inducting him into their Ring of Honor - a ring whose occupants will actually double, with the late Lee Roy Selmon being its lone inductee (2009).
Sapp will have his number 99 retired during the Buccaneers’ first Monday night game since the post-Hank Williams, Jr. era abruptly began. The ceremony will take place at halftime of the Bucs’ matchup with the Miami Dolphins on November 11. Everything about this is symbolic, not only because Sapp’s alma mater was the University of Miami, but Sapp is also known to tweet “11:11 Yes Zirr” at 11:11 local time on any given day.
“Full circle for me,” Sapp, currently an NFL Network analyst, opined on “NFL Total Access” last week. “11/11, 99 in the rafters… hanging over the stadium… what can be better than that?”
One thing that doesn’t top it is the New York Jets’ current quarterback situation. During Sapp’s appearance on “Total Access” on the day of the Ring of Honor announcement, host Andrew Siciliano threw some red meat at him in the form of the circus that is Gang Green.
“I tell all my Jet fans, relax: you have a Florida boy at the helm,” Sapp said of recently drafted quarterback Geno Smith. “Don’t worry, Geno got you covered. You’re in good hands, Rich,” he added, tweaking colleague Rich Eisen.
One thing that would make this year a true blessing for Sapp is if the network extended his contract long term. You may recall around this time last year that NFLN was reportedly dropping him from their squad; obviously, that never materialized. I would think this is the perfect time for NFLN and Sapp to agree to a new deal that would give him financial security for the foreseeable future, now that his bankruptcy case is behind him. I think he’s learned his lesson for calling players “snitches” on their air.
But you know what the best thing about being inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor is?
Unlike the Super Bowl and national championship rings he won with the Bucs and the Miami Hurricanes, respectively, Warren Sapp can’t lose this one.Read More
Imagine my incense when I learned today that Comcast Sportsnet Chicago rookie Susannah Collins was no longer with the network.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that it actually had little to do with her “sex-y” slip of the tongue during Tuesday night’s Blackhawks pregame show on CSN Chicago.
Certainly, it didn’t help matters, because after the flub received worldwide attention, it eventually led to the discovery of a series of videos Collins did with Samantha Raddock, titled “Sports Nutz”. And let’s just say that in some of these videos, including this one in which the duo reads from the Darryl Dawkins’ autobiography “Chocolate Thunder”, they can talk about having “a tremendous amount of sex” and get away with it.
Anyway, one of the entities that apparently discovered these videos for the first time was the Blackhawks.
That’s according to Dan Bernstein, who disclosed on the “Boers And Bernstein” program on WSCR/”670 The Score” that CSN’s dismissal of Collins was at the team’s “behest… Her gaffe brought the old videos to their attention, and they wanted ties cut.”
So let me get this straight: The Blackhawks failed to do their homework efficiently on Collins’ body of work, then only after the “tremendous amount of sex” utterance rears its ugly head on their broadcast partner’s air do they decide to no longer be associated with her?
Tough luck. Don’t think that you can play God just because the dog’s been eating your homework over the last year.
I mean, Collins was so proud of her tenure at “Sports Nutz,” she listed it on her “sportscasting” bio on her own website! But if she conducts herself on-air well, as she had most recently on Showtime, then what she did in her past is a moot point, and should not be held against her just oen year into her new position at CSN Chicago.
And if the Blackhawks are really concerned about their image, how come they haven’t been quick to pull their radio broadcasts off the mighty WGN-AM? The Tribune-owned radio station has been the home of the Blackhawks since 2008 – which just so happens to be the year that then-Tribune CEO Randy Michaels reportedly received sexual favors “from a young Tribune employee” on a terrace on Tribune Tower. Michaels would also be hit with a DUI charge shortly after leaving Tribune. Yet somehow, the Blackhawks’ radio broadcasts remain on WGN. I guess it’s not who you know, it’s who you — I mean, it’s an apparent double standard in play for the Blackhawks.
I’ve reached out to Collins’ agent, Seth Mayeri, in an attempt to set up an interview, and perhaps find out what her next step will be. Personally, I think she’s got a lawsuit on her hands. I’d also like to know if she’ll resurface at one of the previous broadcasting outlets she worked at: Showtime, where she appeared on “Inside The NFL” and “Inside NASCAR”; NFL Network, where she anchored “NFL Now” updates; and the CBS O&O in New York City, WCBS-TV, where she had been sports anchor on weekends (WCBS-TV received some unwanted attention earlier this year when their news anchor, Rob Morrison, resigned after reportedly abusing his wife, another CBS employee).
Or, who knows, Collins is always welcome to join us here at SportsRants. (Incidentally, this “Sports Nutz” business comes just as the SportsRantz website this week completes a rebranding phase to the more commonly spelled “SportsRants” name; naturally, “Sports Nutz” is not affiliated with SportsRantz – or, for that matter, SportsRants.)
Collins’ faux pas on CSN Chicago is the antithesis of the start of AJ Clemente’s news anchoring career, which came to an abrupt halt after just a half-hour when KFYR in Bismarck, ND fired him. In Clemente’s case, of course, he should have known better, with the newscast just seconds away from starting.
I’m not trying to compare the two instances; my point is, Collins has an impressive resume and years of experience – and didn’t even break any FCC violations, unless it’s suddenly the year 1956 – and was still shown the door, no thanks to her “tremendous” flub.
There is a saying that when one door closes – in this case, the Blackhawks literally squeezed her out of Comcast’s hallway – another door opens. I have a feeling it’s going to be a very big door. Maybe Fox Sports, whose new national cable network is set to launch in just over three months. And there’s a heavy hiring chase for Fox Sports 1 currently underway.
Whether it be Fox Sports, ESPN, NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Radio, or whoever, I think whoever lands the services of Susannah Collins will have – wait for it – a tremendous amount of success.
I mean it.Read More
There’s knowing the words you want to say, and how the words actually come out.
It happened on Tuesday night during the local pregame show for the Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff game against the Minnesota Wild on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Their ace reporter Susannah Collins, who’s been on the CSN Blackhawks beat for one season and counting, was presumably setting viewers up for what could be a tough matchup with the Wild – the Blackhawks eventually won Game 1 in overtime on Tuesday night – when she said, “despite the fact that they’ve had such a tremendous amount of success during the regular season.”
Unfortunately, she successfully maimed the word “success” and it sounded like this:
Being a good sport, Collins, who you also might have seen on Showtime working “Inside The NFL” and “Inside NASCAR” over the last few years (she left Showtime entirely last year to work at CSN full-time), let her nearly 10,000 followers know that she is aware of her Freudian slip, and simply laughed it off:
Maybe Susannah had a flashback to when she filmed this gem just over three years ago.
Anyway, you’re forgiven. Good thing it was only in Chicago, as opposed to a national broadcast. Lest you appear on “Inside The NFL” and talk about how much “sex” Aldon Smith had last year.Read More