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Is ESPN Planning a Bigger Role For Mendoza?

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The past six weeks have transformed Jessica Mendoza from someone largely regarded as a softball analyst to one of the lead baseball voices at ESPN. She has performed so well in place of Curt Schilling on Sunday night games and during the Houston Astros’ 3-0 victory over the Yankees in the American League wild-card playoff game Tuesday night that ESPN has no option but to give her a high-profile slot.

“Six weeks? No, it’s hasn’t been that long,” she said on Wednesday in a telephone interview. “It’s felt like one long day because I never wanted it to stop. I never wanted to let off the gas.”

On Tuesday night, she showed her primary expertise in batting analysis, most notably on how the Astros’ George Springer was able to hit a double over Brett Gardner’s head: by standing far back in the batter’s box to react to Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter. But she also did good — and quick — work on pitch selection and outfield positioning.

“I find that as far as my first step in, I talk to hitters, coaches and managers, and that’s the insight I want to share with viewers,” she said. “I’m hoping to build up to defensive strategy and pitching.”

What she will do in 2016 will probably depend, in part, on whether Schilling has a future at ESPN — on Sunday night games or anywhere. He was initially suspended by the network for sharing a Twitter meme about Muslim extremists that featured a photograph of Adolf Hitler. His short punishment was then extended because of an angry response he emailed to an article on the website Awful Announcing about his activities on social media. His first day back was Wednesday, when he worked from an ESPN studio at the company’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

Mendoza said she traded texts about pitching with Schilling after Tuesday night’s game.

“He’s someone I’ve known a while and respect his knowledge, so we went back and forth about Tanaka” and Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, she said.

So far, Mendoza has not heard from ESPN officials about what she will do next season. “And I haven’t even asked,” she said. “I’m as curious as anyone. I’m hooked. This is something I want to do more of.”

And she will. John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and production, lauded her in a way that offered little doubt about the company’s intentions.

“You can expect that she has earned and will have a prominent role in our baseball coverage,” Wildhack said. “Her knowledge of the game is comparable to any baseball expert out there, and her knowledge of hitting might be the best of any analyst out there.”

He added, “She deserves all the credit for displaying her talents, and it’s awesome that she got to do it on a big stage last night at Yankee Stadium.”

Translation: Expect her to replace Schilling. It will be a smart and progressive move.

To read more visit the NY Times where this story was originally published

 

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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