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MLB Network Adds “MLB Central”

Jason Barrett

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MLB Network has picked out a name and set the talent lineup for its first-ever regular season morning show, The Wrap has learned exclusively.

On professional baseball’s highly anticipated Opening Day, Monday, April 6, “MLB Central” will debut with hosts Matt Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa and Lauren Shehadi.

“Fans are thirsting for baseball around the clock, and live is always better,” Coordinating Producer Josh Bernstein told TheWrap as he explained the programming decision and the show’s timing. “Starting our programming day a little bit earlier with live stuff — it’s exciting, and if news breaks in the middle of the night, if something changes in the morning, we’re there.”

Previously, the network rebroadcast highlights show “Quick Pitch” in the timeslot.

The three-hour morning show will be the first program to originate from MLB Network’s new, state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot Studio 21, named in honor of Hall-of-Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente’s number — a space that Bernstein promised is “mind-blowing.” The studio will also become home to the aforementioned “Quick Pitch” and the series “MLB Now.”

Of course, a huge set doesn’t solely launch a series, and Bernstein had equal praise for the trio they selected to man “MLB Central,” touting the “off-the-charts” chemistry of announcer Vasgersian, former long-term pro ballplayer DeRosa and internal talent Shehadi (“The Rundown,” “Hot Stove”).

Those three are pretty stoked for their new morning show too.

“I’m looking forward to the fact that this show is going to be a little bit different in that it’s not as tightly formatted based on games in progress,” Vasgersian told TheWrap. “I appreciate the collaboration element of this a lot, and we’ve all taken equal stakes in coming up with segment ideas in pre-production.”

“MLB Central” will air live each weekday morning, with updates and context on the latest news, on-field highlights, and long-form conversations with guests, celebrities, and insiders from around the league.

Each show will begin with “The Wake-Up Call,” a look at the biggest highlights and news stories in the game. DeRosa will give his opinion on the latest on-field performances in “The D-Train,” and the show’s analysts will offer their daily take on the hottest players and best moves in the world of fantasy baseball. Towards the end of the 180-minute block, as the 1 p.m. ET baseball games ready their first pitch, “MLB Central” will shift into pregame mode.

Other recurring features will include interviews with MLB players, managers and others inside the clubhouse and a segment inspired by the MLB Network trivia show “Baseball IQ.”

“We’re going to strike the right balance between entertainment and baseball,” Bernstein told TheWrap.

“Baseball is … America’s pastime and we breathe it here,” Bernstein concluded. “We serve the fans that are craving it. It’s never been better and that’s why the time has never been better to do the show.”

Credit to the Boston Herald who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Danny Balis Joins 97.1 The Freak

“I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

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Longtime Sportsradio 96.7/1310 The Ticket producer Danny Balis is joining 97.1 The Freak in Dallas.

Balis was introduced Monday as the newest member of The Downbeat cast, which already features Mike Rhyner, Mike Sirois, and Michael Gruber.

“He was the one I want, and I get what I want here,” Rhyner said during Monday’s announcement.

“I’m excited,” said Balis. “I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

Balis left The Ticket in May, citing an interest in focusing on other areas of his life outside of radio. He served as a producer at the station for 22 years before stepping aside. At the time, he said “The room for growth for me up here is not going to open up until all you knuckleheads retire,” the 54-year-old joked.

In addition to his work with The Freak, Balis continues to co-own the Twilite Lounge in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

97.1 The Freak launched in October, and features a “broad-based, personality driven format” that features several former Dallas sports radio personalities including Rhyner, and Ben and Skin among others.

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Sports Radio News

Shan & RJ: We Have Questions About Jerry Jones But Washington Post Report Isn’t One of Them

“We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found himself in the headlines last week ahead of the team’s Thanksgiving Day game, but it was largely seen as something that didn’t need to be dragged out into the spotlight, and 105.3 The Fan hosts Shan and RJ agreed.

The Washington Post last week published a photo from 1957 showing a 14-year-old Jones among a crowd of onlookers as white students tried to block the path of some Black students attempting to enter his North Little Rock, Arkansas high school.

The piece focused on Jones, who is the Cowboys general manager, never hiring a Black head coach in the entire time he’s owned the franchise.

On Monday, Shan Shariff said it seemed a bit much to use that photo and article to paint Jones as some sort of racist.

“There’s certainly a bunch of stories out there that we know on and off the record about Jerry Jones that makes me question his morals,” he said. “We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Cowboys insider Bobby Belt, who was filling in for co-host RJ Choppy on Shan & RJ, said Jones has likely evolved like a lot of people do over time. He didn’t think it was fair to necessarily say Jones was racist.

“I’m not gonna speak for anyone else but I don’t believe he’s racist,” Belt said. “I think there are enough people who have dealt with him who are African American who would tell you they don’t think he’s racist. But it’s still not a thing that you can just write off to ‘Oh I was just standing there.'”

Jones admitted to the Post that his football coach at the time told him and other players not to get involved or be among the crowd for that moment, but he went anyway.

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Sports Radio News

DiPietro & Rothenberg: NFL TV Partners Should Schedule Jets and Giants at Opposite Times

Jordan Bondurant

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For the first time in a long time, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets are factors in the NFL playoff picture. After years of both franchises occupying the bottom portions of the league standings, fans in New York and the surrounding area have a reason to believe. On DiPietro & Rothenberg on ESPN New York, Dave Rothenberg said he thinks the league should put both teams in more marquee windows.

“When you start to think about flexing games, you start to think about you know what, the Giants and Jets should be flexed into better time slots,” he said.

Co-host Rick DiPietro said it sucks now that both teams are playing well, fans are essentially forced to flip back and forth between games.

“It’s awful. It really is,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that it ruins the Sunday because that would be hard. But it’s not my favorite.”

Still, it’s not lost on Rothenberg that football fans in the city now have something to cheer for NFL wise as the last chunk of the regular season approaches.

“When was the last time the Jets and Giants in December had meaningful football games?” Rothenberg asked. “Years and years and years.”

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