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John Smoltz Named Lead Fox MLB Game Analyst

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A first-ballot Hall of Famer, World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner, John Smoltz has been named the lead analyst for FOX Sports’ presentation of Major League Baseball regular and postseason games, beginning in 2016. The announcement was made Tuesday by John Entz, President of Production & Executive Producer, FOX Sports.

“It is rare in this business that you’re presented the opportunity to have a Hall of Fame-level player who is also one of the sport’s top broadcasters,” Entz said of Smoltz. “Having been able to work with John each of the last two seasons, we’ve gained an even greater appreciation for his insight into the game and what he brings to the booth.”

Smoltz initially joined FOX Sports in 2014 and served as an analyst for both regular and postseason telecasts in 2014 and 2015, including the 2014 National League Division Series and 2015 American League Division Series. As the network’s lead analyst, he now teams with seven-time Emmy Award winning play-by-play announcer Joe Buck in the booth for marquee Saturday regular-season games on FOX broadcast network and FS1, in addition to the All-Star Game and a full slate of postseason games that includes Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series assignments.

A right-handed pitcher, Smoltz gained first-ballot admission into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015, a testament to the excellence of his memorable playing career. He played 21 seasons in the major leagues, tossing 3,473 innings over 723 games (481 starts) and posting a 213-155 record and lifetime 3.33 ERA, with 3,084 strikeouts. Impressively, Smoltz also registered 154 saves over a four-season stint as a closer from 2001 to 2004, becoming the first player in MLB history to record both 200 wins and 150 saves in his career.

“I am extremely excited to be able to continue my broadcasting career with FOX Sports, and I am honored to be named lead analyst alongside Joe Buck,” Smoltz said. “Joe is a good friend of mine and the best in the business. He’s someone I have known and respected for a long time, and I am really looking forward to getting to work with him on a more regular basis. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I couldn’t be happier.”

As part of Smoltz’ addition to the Fox MLB broadcast team, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds will no longer provide analysis in the booth during the post-season. They are expected to have a role in Fox’s coverage, but specifics have not yet been determined.

Sports TV News

Amazon Eyeing Troy Aikman For Thursday Night Football

McCarthy’s source describes Michaels and Aikman as Amazon’s “TNF dream team.”

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If Amazon gets its way, Troy Aikman and Al Michaels will be in the booth for Thursday Night Football next season. The digital giant is set to take over exclusive broadcast rights to the property next season. 

Amazon’s interest in Al Michaels has been known for some time. Michael McCarthy first reported that the company wants to hire Aikman on Tuesday.

Troy Aikman has been Joe Buck’s partner on FOX since 2002. They have been heard on FOX’s America’s Game of the Week package as well as Thursday Night Football. They have also called six Super Bowls together.

McCarthy’s source describes Michaels and Aikman as Amazon’s “TNF dream team.” In order to make it happen, Amazon may have to lure Aikman away from FOX. 

A FOX rep told McCarthy that the network does not comment on “the status of talent contracts.”

The New York Post reports that Michaels is a virtual lock to end up at Amazon. Before the news about Troy Aikman came out, the paper speculated that Cris Collinsworth and Drew Brees are possible candidates to join him.

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Sports TV News

ABC Scores Biggest College Football Weekend Since 2016

“The triple-header started with Michigan’s win over Penn State, which is the most-watched noon game of the season for ABC.”

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Executives at ABC and ESPN are loving their networks’ performance with college football fans this season. What they saw on Saturday must have them jumping for joy. ABC didn’t just have its most-watched Saturday of the season, it had attracted more viewers than any college football weekend since 2016.

The triple-header started with Michigan’s win over Penn State, which is the most-watched noon game of the season for ABC. With an average of more than 5.9 million viewers, it was the most-watched game of the day, peaking at 8.7 million.

Ohio State’s demolition of Purdue picked up more than 4.7 million viewers. It is the network’s most-watched game in the 3:30 window since week 1.

With Notre Dame’s win at Virginia averaging over 3.3 million viewers, the entire triple-header averaged 4.7 million viewers. That is double-digit year-over-year growth compared to both 2020 and 2019 and the best viewership for an ABC triple header since rivalry week of 2016.

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Sports TV News

Michelle Beadle: I’ve Been Giving Opinions To Walls For 800 Days

“After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”

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Former ESPN personality Michelle Beadle is back and she wants everyone to know it on her new podcast, What Did I Miss? with Michelle Beadle. The first episode dropped this week, and Beadle talked about what she was up to while she was away.

“I have missed a lot, I have kinda been sitting back for 800 days giving my opinions to walls because my friends don’t care about sports and neither does my family. Nobody really cared what I had to say so in between knitting and buying toilet paper I was just mumbling a lot of opinions to the ether,” said Beadle on her time away from sports media.

Michelle Beadle talked about her move to The Athletic, saying “I ended up at The Athletic because when I think of serious journalism I think of The Athletic and myself. To me it was just a match made in heaven. After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”

One of the many things that Beadle discussed had started since she has been away is the alternate Manningcast Monday Night Football telecast, which she had some high praise for.

She also went on to talk about her unread text messages that she has on her phone, and one of them was from her former colleague at ESPN Bob Ley.

“People from the outside think that Bob Ley is someone who is super serious because he is one of the pillars of SportsCenter. While we worked together on SportsNation I would just tell stories and crack jokes to everyone in the newsroom and all of the sudden Bob Ley who I also thought was super serious joined in on the jokes. I just loved Bob so much.”

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