Mariners Uproot Ownership Of Seattle RSN Root Sports

Mariners Uproot Ownership Of Seattle RSN Root Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seattle Mariners have purchased a majority stake (amount unknown) in its broadcast partner, Root Sports Northwest.

The Seattle Mariners have purchased a majority stake (amount unknown) in its broadcast partner, Root Sports Northwest.

To paraphrase a line from the classic “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” Root, Root, Root is now a tax write-off for the home team.

The Seattle Mariners have re-upped their current decade-long $450 million deal to air games on the regional sports network Root Sports Northwest, in a big way: they’re taking over the network next to outright.

The Mariners have acquired a majority stake in the Seattle-based RSN from DirecTV Sports Networks, which maintains ownership of three other regional sports networks with the Root name serving Pittsburgh, Denver and Utah; DirecTV purchased these networks in 2008 from Fox Sports, which continues to operate a host of FSN-branded regionals across the country (naturally, this foursome was known as “FSN” as well).

The new deal shatters the existing one, with the Mariners now doling out $2 billion over the next seventeen years, guaranteeing the team’s presence on Root Sports Network not only for the remainder of the current decade, but all of the next one.

The Mariners become the fourth team in the AL West division to have a large stake in its broadcast partner: both the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles (Anaheim) Angels have a deal with Fox Sports, while the Houston Astros – in its first season as an occupant in the AL West – are partners with Time Warner Cable; the lone team in this division without such a setup is the Oakland A’s.

Could we see the remainder of DirecTV’s Root networks being farmed out to one of the teams on their air? Could we see the Colorado Rockies get high with Root Sports Rocky Mountain? Might the Utah Jazz (whose games are occasionally seen on Root Sports Northwest, incidentally) make some music with Root Sports Utah?

Before you know it, in this age of high sports business dollars, we could see a major sports franchise sowing oats with a regional sports network in virtually every market.

That would buy a lot of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

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Mike Lupica On NBC News During Boston Marathon Tragedy: A Tragic Decision?

Mike Lupica On NBC News During Boston Marathon Tragedy: A Tragic Decision?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incensed viewers took to Twitter to complain about NBC News using the insight of New York-based sports writer Mike Lupica during their coverage of the Boston Marathon explosion.

Incensed viewers took to Twitter to complain about NBC News using the insight of New York-based sports writer Mike Lupica during their coverage of the Boston Marathon explosion.

There’s really no way – nor is there ever an intent – to make light of the events that unfolded at the end of the Boston Marathon.

Two explosions went off near the finish line, right before 3 PM local time. Many are injured, with a few casualties, including an 8-year-old child.

Naturally, news organizations, locally as well as nationally, are reaching out to anyone for comment on this horrific tragedy.

Apparently, NBC News decided to reach out, not once, but twice, to New York Daily News sports columnist and ESPN Radio 98.7/New York host Mike Lupica.

And for some reason, viewers do not think it makes sense.

For what it’s worth, he did have a gripping viewpoint: “To see people running away from the finish line of the Boston Marathon is one of the most chilling things I’ve ever seen.”

But was Lupica, whose radio show airs from 12 Noon to 1 PM weekdays, actually at the marathon? That is likely at the center of people’s reactions on Twitter as to why NBC News would bring on a New York-based sports columnist and author on the air.

Here’s the first wave of tweets at around 4:40 PM ET:

And the next round of react when Lupica reappears on NBC News after 7 PM ET:

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Report: Mike Rice Coaching 7th Grade Girls Basketball?

Report: Mike Rice Coaching 7th Grade Girls Basketball?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice back in action with a seventh-grade girls high school basketball team?

Was former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice back in action with a seventh-grade girls high school basketball team?

“One of my moles is watching Mike Rice coach 12 year old girls at Holmdel High in NJ right now,” tweeted basketball writer Brian Geltzeiler on Sunday. “As crazy as ever, yelling [at] both refs and kids.

“Just this afternoon, Rice told a 12 year old girl, ‘I can’t even look at you’, and the ref told my guy he would have T’d him up twice if it was high school.”

Hold on a second – wasn’t April Fool’s Day just a couple of weeks ago?

“I’m not joking. Mike Rice is actually coaching a 7th grade girls AAU team today and he’s still acting like a mad man.

“It’s insane that Mike Rice is coaching a 7th grade girls AAU team out of Neptune NJ 2 weeks after those tapes went public.”

Rice, of course, was the men’s basketball coach at Rutgers University until ESPN showed a tape of him abusing players, verbally and physically; he was dismissed within 24 hours of that film being broadcast.

As for Holmdel High School, it’s the home of the Lady Hornets girls basketball team, whose season ended earlier this spring. But what Geltzeiler actually speaks of is a seventh-grade Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team that was apparently in action at Holdmel High on Sunday. “Was texting with a friend while he was watching it happen,” he tweeted. “His daughter was on the other team.”

The only available schedule for the 7th grade AAU squad was from last year, but as it turns out, a legitimate game was in progress. While searching through public posts on Facebook, I came across one from what appears to be a mother of one of the girls “at an AAU tournament,” and – well, here, read it and weep:

More: “Was just told that Rice has had this AAU 7th grade girls gig while he was coaching Rutgers. Has been the coach all season,” tweets Geltzeiler.

Further details on this as they become available. In the meantime, here are all of Brian Geltzeiler’s tweets in question from Sunday re: Mike Rice:

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98.5 The Sports Hub Has A Good Laugh At WEEI’s Expense

98.5 The Sports Hub Has A Good Laugh At WEEI’s Expense

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Red Sox radio announcer Jerry Trupiano, now a weekend host on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, had something to say about the outgoing Jon Rish from rival WEEI.

Former Red Sox radio announcer Jerry Trupiano, now a weekend host on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, had something to say about the outgoing Jon Rish from rival WEEI.

The aura at WEEI in Boston must be toxic. It was enough to lead one of their weekenders, Pete Sheppard, to say “take this job and shove it” on the air yesterday.

Of course, a more impactful transaction of late was the resignation of Jon Rish, the pregame and postgame announcer for the Red Sox Radio Network, of which WEEI is the flagship. Rish was so incensed about continuing to work for Entercom, after being faced with a pay cut of nearly a third of his salary, that he decided to leave the radio business for good.

This was not the first time there has been turmoil in the Red Sox radio booth. At the conclusion of the 2006 season, there were inklings that play-by-play announcer Jerry Trupiano would not be retained by the team; it was around that time that current Sox PBP man Dave O’Brien was brought on board.

Since then, Trupiano was not able to latch on to a new major league franchise for announcing work, though his son recently lobbied for him to be the new radio voice of the Houston Astros (Trupiano had worked games for most of Houston’s teams during the 1970′s and 1980′s).

In the interim, he was given the chance to return to the Boston airwaves via a new weekend show on WBZ-FM/”98.5 The Sports Hub,” upon its launch in 2009, a show he still co-hosts with Rob Poole, a.k.a. “Hardy.”

So on the heels of Rish’s impending departure on the Red Sox Radio Network, Ryan Johnston and Mike Flynn, whose show precedes Hardy and Trupiano on Sundays, couldn’t help but take a veiled shot at their competitor during the crossover.

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Pete Sheppard Gets The Flock Outta WEEI

Pete Sheppard Gets The Flock Outta WEEI

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Sheppard quit his job at WEEI/Boston live on the air on Saturday night. He follows Jon Rish, who is also leaving the station after a disagreement with management at Entercom, WEEI's parent company.

Pete Sheppard quit his job at WEEI/Boston live on the air on Saturday night. He follows Jon Rish, who is also leaving the station after a disagreement with management at Entercom, WEEI’s parent company.

What was once the mighty sports radio monopoly in Boston is now a sinking ship.

Even as the radio home of the Boston Red Sox, WEEI is now a shadow of its former self – and it’s not just because they’re now heard on 93.7 FM after spending many years on the AM dial.

It’s about the money – or the station’s sinking fortunes, as CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM/”98.5 The Sports Hub” has emerged as the premier sports radio outlet in Beantown.

And as a result, one of the premier sports radio voices in Boston, Glenn Ordway, was fired.

Just yesterday, Media Rantz brought you the news about Jon Rish, the Red Sox Radio Network announcer who, rather than take a sizable pay cut, opted to give his two weeks notice and concentrate on a brand new career as a software developer.

Now, even the weekenders are turning on the station.

On Saturday night, with about forty minutes left in his show, Pete Sheppard posted this Tweet:

When all was said and done, Sheppard said his peace, and now… he’s done. Yep, he quit right on the air. It broke his heart to see WEEI fall apart at the seams since last year, and he believed management at WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, is entirely to blame. “I can’t stand working for this company anymore,” he was quoted as saying.

Sheppard actually was the “Sports Flash” anchor for the aforementioned Ordway on the afternoon “Big Show” until he was fired in 2010. Once again, it’s about the money.

This time? “I’m going out on my own terms this time,” he was quoted as saying on his final WEEI broadcast. But he vowed to return to Boston sports radio very soon:

I should mention that Sheppard’s on-air resignation comes 24 hours after the President of Entercom visited the station and engaged in a “town hall-style meeting” with WEEI brass in the wake of their transactions this year.

I guess Sheppard isn’t giving him a very high approval rating.

Meanwhile, no audio of Pete Sheppard quitting on the air is available yet, so in the interim, listen to perhaps the best example of a radio host quitting on the air:

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Bob Costas Defends “Gun Culture” Commentary On HBO, But Admits: “I Could Have Done This More Effectively” (Video, Transcript)

Bob Costas Defends “Gun Culture” Commentary On HBO, But Admits: “I Could Have Done This More Effectively” (Video, Transcript)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Costas appeared on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" and discussed his "gun culture" comments made during a "Sunday Night Football" broadcast in December.

Bob Costas appeared on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” and discussed his “gun culture” comments made during a “Sunday Night Football” broadcast in December.

It’s been four months since the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide.

And, likewise, how sports media responded to the event in the 48 hours that followed, locally (in Kansas City) and nationally.

But what really drew a lot of buzz was Bob Costas’ commentary at halftime of the “Sunday Night Football” game that weekend.

On Friday, Costas was among the guests on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” Costas, who himself was an HBO personality during the previous decade, said that while he would not take back his thoughts about gun control on the night of December 2 on NBC, he would have slightly altered how he said them.

“I could have done this more effectively, in retrospect,” Costas acknowledged. “I had a short period of time, and I tried to shoehorn a single aspect of it in.”

The aspect that he spoke of, of course, was the “gun culture,” whereas even if there was legal gun ownership in circles, “you still have the attitudes that lead to tragedy.”

On the same broadcast, Costas also opined on “the gun absolutists” and the likely possibility of their organizing an “ad hoc militia” against the government.

Video below (language warning; Maher refers to the Second Amendment as “bulls–t”); transcript follows.

BOB COSTAS: “You know, I think a lot of us who are in favor of common sense gun control have to concede that common sense gun control is not the only aspect of it. Obviously, mental health is an aspect of it. You’re going to have to have enforcement. If you have background checks, you’re going to have to have better enforcement. You’re going to have to have mandatory sentences for those who not only commit crimes with guns, but who carry guns illegally.

“There’s a whole array of things. It’s not only about guns. But to hear the NRA tell it, it’s about everything but guns.

“At halftime of a game the day after Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs murdered his fiancee and then committed suicide, um, and I could have done this more effectively, in retrospect, because I had a short period of time, and I tried to shoehorn a single aspect of it in; I didn’t believe it was the only aspect… I talked about a “gun culture” in sports, which, even if you had common sense gun control, and all these guns were legally obtained, you still have the attitudes that lead to tragedy.”

BILL MAHER: “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry, but this is the problem with the gun debate, is that it’s a constant center right debate. There’s no left in this debate. Everyone on the left is so afraid to say what should be said, which is the Second Amendment is bullshit.”

COSTAS: “But all these paranoid types who think that there’s gonna come a day when the government is just gonna go too far for them, and as true patriots, they’re going to have to organize some sort of ad hoc militia, here’s my question: Who is the Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee of this militia? How do they coalesce? Who do they decide who to shoot? Who do we trust?

“The gun absolutists try to cloak all of their arguments in high-minded constitutional principle, and there is a constitutional point to be made. But we have to remind ourselves: we’re talking about the gun lobby. Just like there’s a pharmaceutical lobby, there’s a food and beverage lobby, there’s a tobacco lobby. Part of what they’re trying to do is protect the ability of the people they represent, to sell somebody a Bushmaster.

“What I was trying to say with the gun culture thing at halftime of the football game: Even if you had every bit of legislation, you’d still have these attitudes toward guns that lead to bad outcomes.”

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Red Sox Broadcaster Flips The Script: Jon Rish Leaving WEEI For Computer Career

Red Sox Broadcaster Flips The Script: Jon Rish Leaving WEEI For Computer Career

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a surprise move, Red Sox radio broadcaster Jon Rish is leaving the broadcasting field. The ESPN alum is planning to become a software developer, and will begin taking a course this summer.

In a surprise move, Red Sox radio broadcaster Jon Rish is leaving the broadcasting field. The ESPN alum is planning to become a software developer, and will begin taking a course this summer.

Jon Rish is leaving WEEI for CGI.

He’s giving up the booth for a reboot.

He’s trading the Red Sox for Red Hat.

There are many more ways I could go with this.

But in the end, could you really blame him?

Rish has been a part of the Red Sox Radio Network, based at flagship WEEI in Boston, for the last eight years, serving as pregame and postgame host, as well as substitute play-by-play voice on the days where Dave O’Brien is taking care of business for ESPN, where Rish had worked for a half-dozen years – specifically, ESPN Radio – before joining WEEI.

However, it was at some point during the last season – Bobby Valentine’s lone one as Sox skipper - that Rish had an epiphany: He could continue working radio broadcasts for the Red Sox, which some may consider a dream job – and with them holding the most lucrative radio deal for a baseball team, higher even than the archrival New York Yankees, it should be a fine class to be associated with. And you would think that with the highest paying radio deal in MLB, would come a big fat paycheck.

But then he looked at the bigger picture: his family, including four children, ages 2 through 12.

And then, he probably noticed WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, making drastic moves, including the ouster of longtime Boston sports radio voice Glenn Ordway.

“It became clear towards the end of the 2012 season that there was a very real possibility that my future was not with Entercom.”

Why else would Rish officially decide that he would be announcing his plans to leave WEEI and the Red Sox Radio Network - albeit, a mere three hours before the first pitch was thrown on Opening Day at Fenway Park on Monday. Though the fact that Rish has been good friends with WEEI program director Jason Wolfe for the last two decades played a large role in the abrupt fashion of his impending departure.

“I didn’t want to tell Jason by phone,” Rish affirmed. “I wanted to tell him in person. He was speechless.”

I bet Rish was equally speechless when Entercom asked him to take a pay cut of 30% – one that he turned down.

“It wasn’t fair to me and it wasn’t workable for my family,” Rish said. “I will say I could no longer justify working for Entercom.

“But it was not as difficult a decision for me as you might think,” he continued. “It was not a difficult decision to explain to my wife.”

Five years ago, Rish disclosed to a Massachusetts newspaper his hopes for a full-time play-by-play job. “But when you wait for the opportunity for so long, you’re not picky.”

Now with a son entering high school soon, and three daughters that will eventually follow suit, working Red Sox games on an understudy basis just won’t cut it, and he doesn’t hear any other pro sports teams fighting for his talents, so Rish is going to leave sports broadcasting entirely.

He’s saying goodbye to sports media – and hello to software media.

That’s right. Through his alma mater, Boston College – whose athletics are another notch on his play-by-play resume – he consulted with a career coach, who encouraged him to pursue an opportunity in the technology field.

And starting next month, Rish will take a ten-week class on how to become a Ruby software developer.

If successful, two major perks come with the gig: First of all, software programmers are in high demand (you don’t see many sports teams hiring announcers mid-season); and more importantly, they could actually make more money than most sports broadcasters not named Joe Buck or Jim Nantz. But it’s not completely due to programmers’ vast knowledge and skills.

“The state of the radio industry isn’t what it used to be,” Rish admits.

Rish will continue working Red Sox games for just a couple more weeks, and then after a week to recharge the batteries, he’ll start reporting to Launch Academy for Ruby On Rails classes.

Jon Rish. Transitioning from sports programming to computer programming.

This month, RBI’s; next month, RGB.

Out: stats. In: stacks.

I think I’ve made my point.

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Spygate Vs. Bountygate On NFL Network Peyton Manning Bit

Spygate Vs. Bountygate On NFL Network Peyton Manning Bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Network analyst Darren Sharper was called out for "cheating" after he helped Broncos linebacker Von Miller win a pretend game show about Peyton Manning. Sharper had played safety for the Saints for two seasons during the "Bountygate" era.

NFL Network analyst Darren Sharper was called out for “cheating” after he helped Broncos linebacker Von Miller win a pretend game show about Peyton Manning. Sharper had played safety for the Saints for two seasons during the “Bountygate” era.

What do Pierre Garcon and Von Miller have in common? Both of them have been a teammate of Peyton Manning.

Also, both were in-studio guests on Thursday’s edition of “NFL Total Access” on NFL Network.

So, naturally, the program trotted out the players on the Z-block of the show, for a fake game show: the “Peyton Manning Pop Quiz.”

And for this game, linebacker Miller, about to embark on his third season with the Denver Broncos (second with Manning under center), and Washington Redskins wideout Garcon, who was Manning’s teammate on the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons, had designated “lifelines” in the form of NFLN analysts Darren Sharper and Willie McGinest.

And what do Sharper and McGinest have in common? Both have played for teams that have had their own public scandals of late: the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate” and the New England Patriots’ “Spygate.”

True, McGinest was already playing with the Cleveland Browns by the time the “Spygate” scandal broke in 2007 for the Patriots, for whom McGinest had played linebacker for the bulk of his career, earning two Super Bowl rings in the process.

But Sharper had played the final two years of his career as a safety with the Saints, at around the same time the “Bountygate” timeline had allegedly unfolded. So Sharper, who won a Super Bowl with the Saints and appeared in another with the Green Bay Packers, is directly linked to “Bountygate.”

All that being said, when Miller, aided by a whispering Sharper, wins the “Peyton Manning Pop Quiz,” of course, McGinest calls Sharper out for “cheating.”

Watch the video here.

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2013 NFL Schedule Will Be Released Tuesday, April 16. Or Not, According To A Report

2013 NFL Schedule Will Be Released Tuesday, April 16. Or Not, According To A Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

TV listings for Tuesday, April 16 show a "SportsCenter Special" at 7 PM on ESPN - when it could very well be a special devoted to the long-awaited NFL schedule release.

TV listings for Tuesday, April 16 show a “SportsCenter Special” at 7 PM on ESPN – when it could very well be a special devoted to the long-awaited NFL schedule release.

I bet you’re waiting in anticipation for the release of the 2013 NFL schedule next Tuesday, aren’t you?

You might need to wait until the Tuesday after that.

It seems this is exactly why when ESPN and NFL Network tell you the NFL schedule release is “soon” – no matter how many clues and/or facts that are out there.

There is the possibility of a delay in the release of the 2013 NFL schedule, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who did not cite a reason for a possible delay, other than the Baltimore Ravens’ season opener kerfuffle throwing a monkey wrench in the scheduling process (more on that later).

Whether the league legitimately needs to buy some more time for putting the final touches on the upcoming schedule, or simply throws out bulletins like this to fend off possible NFL schedule “leaks” (like we experienced last year, but it turned out to be a fraud) is anyone’s guess.

Yet a few weeks ago, advanced television listings for ESPN and NFL Network led one to believe that Tuesday, April 16 is the schedule release date, when it could actually be pushed back to no later than April 23 (the NFL Draft is two days later). Even today, the updated schedule listings still provide hints that the networks are ready for a release next week.

As of Wednesday, April 10, here is what’s scheduled on ESPN in primetime for Tuesday, April 16:

First, from 7 to 8 PM, it’s a “SportsCenter Special,” subtitled “Gruden’s QB Camp.” And it features “former NFL coach John Gruden.” Yep, even for a show that isn’t even actually going to air in that time slot, there’s a chyronfail. Brilliant.

There’s another “SportsCenter Special” scheduled at 8 PM: “On The Clock,” an NFL Draft preview.

And finally at 9 PM, it’s “NFL Live” – wait, what? Why on earth would ESPN schedule their hallmark NFL show on a primetime weeknight in the middle of April?

As for NFL Network, regular programming (“NFL Total Access” followed by a “Game Changers” marathon) is scheduled for 7-10 PM on Tuesday, but they’re already promoting a schedule release show of its own – and once again, no date specified, just “coming soon.”

The fact that a report of the possibility of a one-week delay in the NFL schedule release is likely precisely why the league and its broadcast partners refrain from promoting a date weeks in advance.

Regardless of whether or not we will have to wait just a bit longer to find out when the Eagles are playing the Chiefs, and which teams will be in action on Thanksgiving Day, the NFL will likely throw football fans a bone in the days leading up to the complete schedule release date, and that is the identity of the road opponent that the world champion Ravens will play to open the season on September 5; last year, we learned nearly a month before the schedule release date that the Giants would open the season against the Cowboys.

As for the host of this year’s kickoff game, I say it’ll be Denver. Hey, maybe there’s a tug of war between CBS (which owns O&O’s in Denver and Baltimore) and the league over whether or not a possible Ravens/Broncos game can air on NBC? And could that possibly impact the number of appearances Peyton Manning will make on the Peacock Network this year?

These questions and more will be answered soon enough.

Or we could very well be watching a special starring John Gruden on April 16.

UPDATE: The official 2013 schedule release date is Thursday, April 18 at 8 PM ET.

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Verizon FiOS Knocks ESPN Classic Out Of Extreme HD Tier

Verizon FiOS Knocks ESPN Classic Out Of Extreme HD Tier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting in May, Verizon FiOS will be moving ESPN Classic, as well as ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line channel, to its "ultimate HD" package, as well as a brand new sports tier that will be unveiled later this spring.

Starting in May, Verizon FiOS will be moving ESPN Classic, as well as ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line channel, to its “ultimate HD” package, as well as a brand new sports tier that will be unveiled later this spring.

For some viewers of two ESPN networks on Verizon FiOS, your days could be numbered.

Late last week, FiOS subscribers (myself included) received an email from Verizon, informing that ESPN Classic (Channel 71) as well as ESPN Buzzer Beater/ESPN Goal Line (Channel 571) “will be removed from your FiOS Extreme HD package.” The moves were being made “to consolidate FiOS TV programming,” read the e-mail.

“We understand these channels may be important to you,” the e-mail continues, encouraging subscribers “to explore other programming options you may enjoy.”

However, if you wish to continue seeing either of these two networks, you just need to pay a little more. A Verizon spokeswoman confirmed that both channels will be relocated to the FiOS Ultimate HD package, which according to its website, costs at least an additional $25 per month. (Ironically, FiOS touts its Extreme HD tier as the one with the “best sports value”, with Ultimate HD bearing the “best movie value.”)

The channels will also be added to a brand new “sports tier” – not to be confused with one currently offered by FiOS, that includes niche networks like Fox College Sports and The Tennis Channel – that the same Verizon spokeswoman says will be introduced “in the coming weeks.”

These moves come just after the fiber-optic cable provider announced a new monthly fee that will be imposed largely on subscribers in markets where there are multiple regional sports networks.

It makes sense for the integrated seasonal Buzzer Beater/Goal Line network to move to the Ultimate HD tier, where it will join channels such as NFL Network’s RedZone (Channel 335/835). Like NFL RZ, Buzzer Beater/Goal Line presents to viewers live look-ins of college basketball and football games, respectively (the Goal Line Channel operates completely like RedZone on Saturdays during college football season).

But the fact that ESPN Classic is also being lumped into the costlier package is somewhat of a head-scratcher. While the channel does actually air the occasional live sports event, it’s mostly known for airing old games, including boxing, as well as rebroadcasts of old ESPN programming like “[Dick] Schaap One-On-One” and “Who’s No. 1?” and current ESPN fare like “30 For 30″ and “E:60.” ESPN Classic has also aired reruns of conventional series like “Friday Night Lights” and “The White Shadow,” and previously, “This Week In Baseball” and “Arli$$.” The channel, founded in 1995 as Classic Sports Network, was acquired by ESPN in the fall of 1997. (New York City viewers actually were able to view portions of the channel for free during the summer of 1997 via the old WBIS-TV, or “S+” as it was known at the time; today, it’s WPXN, an Ion affiliate.)

And what’s really confounding about ESPN Classic being restricted to FiOS’ “Ultimate HD” tier is that many of the channel’s content was originally not presented in HD – hence, why ESPN only has a standard-definition feed of ESPN Classic in the first place.

Perhaps Verizon knows something that we don’t: could ESPN eventually rebrand its “Classic” channel into a brand new network altogether (as if ESPN didn’t have enough to begin with)? I could see why it could be lumped into a new sports-oriented tier, but why include it in an ”ultimate HD” package when its existing HD-era fare like “E:60″ is only going to be retransmitted as SD, anyway?

Or Verizon is just doing what it can to combat the rising costs of sports programming – even sports that were played years ago.

What would Eric Taylor or Coach Reeves think about that?

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