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Mark Grace Added To Marquee Sports Network

“During the last 15 years, Grace has contributed as an analyst to FOX Sports, FOX Saturday Baseball and FOX Sports Arizona working as a game broadcaster for the Diamondbacks.”

Brandon Contes

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As their launch date quickly approaches the Marquee Sports Network announced two more additions, headlined by longtime Chicago Cubs first baseman and fan favorite Mark Grace. Grace joins the Cubs new network as a pre and postgame analyst.

“My years as a Cub were very special, and to return to Wrigley, the Cubs and the best fans in sports as part of Marquee Sports Network is something that means a lot to me,” Grace said in the announcement. “I’m thrilled to be back!”

Grace spent 13 of his 16-year MLB career playing for the Cubs. The first baseman retired in 2003 and almost immediately began working as a broadcaster. During the last 15 years, Grace has contributed as an analyst to FOX Sports, FOX Saturday Baseball and FOX Sports Arizona working as a game broadcaster for the Diamondbacks. 

In addition to Grace, Marquee also announced Elise Menaker has joined the new network as a reporter, host and content creator. Menaker has been with the Big Ten Network since 2017 and will continue her role there covering football, basketball and softball as a studio analyst and sideline reporter. 

“With Mark and Elise joining our already stellar lineup of on-air talent, Marquee Sports Network’s roster will be unmatched by any other regional sports network anywhere,” said Mike McCarthy, general manager, Marquee Sports Network. “Mark is one of the most revered players in Cubs history and a polished baseball broadcaster, and Elise brings versatility, energy, an array of TV experience and a familiarity with Chicago, all of which will make her a tremendous asset.”

Grace and Menaker join the already well staffed Marquee which previously announced several former Cubs as network analysts including Ryan Dempster, Mark DeRosa, Lou Piniella, Dan Plesac, Doug Glanville, Jason Hammel, Carlos Peña, and Rick Sutcliffe. Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will be in the broadcast booth for the Cubs, with Cole Wright previously announced as the network’s studio host. 

“We are excited to bring Mark back home to Wrigley Field to share his knowledge and passion for baseball and the Cubs, and in Elise, we have someone who will instantly bring a fresh and unique sports perspective to the broadcasts,” added Mike Santini, Marquee Sports Network’s SVP of Programming and Production. “We are very fortunate to add them both.”

The Marquee Sports Network is set to debut Feb. 22, but still does not have a carriage deal with Chicago’s largest cable provider Comcast Xfinity.

Sports TV News

ESPN Reportedly To Lose Big Ten Media Rights For the First Time in 40 Years

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Jordan Bondurant

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BIG TEN, CBS, NBC, FOX SPORTS

After several months, it appears the Big Ten is nearing the finish line on a new media rights deal. And despite still reportedly being in negotiations with the conference, ESPN is looking set to lose out on media rights.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, CBS and NBC are the frontrunners to join with FOX.

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Ourand reported his sources told him ESPN’s deal to keep the Big Ten was not as strong as the one offered by the other two networks.

It would mark the first time in four decades that ESPN didn’t have some involvement in Big Ten sports. But Ourand indicates the worldwide leader could pivot into bundling Big 12 and Pac-12 rights as an alternative. Additionally the network would then pursue keeping its deals with NCAA for championship coverage as well as being the home for the College Football Playoff.

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Sports TV News

Pat McAfee: Deals With Amazon/ESPN Fell Short Because The Show Comes First

“Energy, time, anything away from this show… we got a lot going on. This is my number one focus and it should remain as such…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Last week, it was announced that Pat McAfee would be hosting his own version of the popular Manning Cast only for college football games.

McAfee, co-host AJ Hawk, and the rest of his cast and crew from The Pat McAfee Show will host an alternate feed for six college football games this season.

McAfee was rumored to be in talks with Amazon about potentially hosting an alternate broadcast for its Thursday NFL games, and the former Colts punter had also reportedly talking with ESPN about potentially being featured on College GameDay.

McAfee said to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post that ultimately the Amazon and GameDay deals didn’t come to fruition because it just didn’t make sense.

“I’ve had great conversations with both companies, we just weren’t able to get to a point where ‘the ask’ and ‘the business’ were where it needed to be to get a deal done on both fronts,” McAfee said.

McAfee on his show on Monday elaborated a bit further, trying to put to bed that he was being courted for Thursday Night Football.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s what we were talking about, by the way,” he said. “I was never really approached for anything for Thursday Night Football. That was never really anything.”

Pat read from the full response to Marchand’s questions, posted under the Post story which appeared on the paper’s site Monday. He reiterated that his daily show and the small business he built around his show, take precedent over anything else.

“Energy, time, anything away from this show, this operation, this crew; we got families being built, we got houses being bought, we got 12 employees, we got a lot going on,” he said. “So this is my number one focus and it should remain as such because I have a brain, and also I care a lot about this operation. I love it, actually.”

Still, McAfee made it clear that just because no deal was signed with ESPN and Amazon for 2022 means the ship has sailed permanently. He’s keeping his doors open.

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Sports TV News

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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