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Karl Ravech Excited, Nervous To Call KBO Games

“In terms of the quality of play, Ravech says the KBO is not on par with the top league in Japan. By comparison to the American game, Ravech puts the talent in the KBO somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A.”

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“We’re going into this the same way if you’re an English major going into a math exam,” ESPN’s most prominent MLB talking head says when it comes to covering Korean Baseball. Karl Ravech sat down with Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports this week to discuss the challenge of calling games from halfway around the world in the middle of the night.

His hope is that MLB fans take to the Korea Baseball Organization the way they have historically taken to the Little League and College World Series. Fans start out curious and by the end are well-educated.

“By the end of it, you understand who the best players are. You can talk about the best pitchers from Vanderbilt and the best infielders from LSU that literally, three weeks prior to that, the majority of people couldn’t talk about. I’m assuming and hoping that’s what happens here.”

McCarthy asked Ravech what he expects from the atmosphere. One of the KBO’s hallmarks has been the enthusiastic environment around games. Players routinely flip their bats regardless of the outcome of their plate appearances. Cheerleaders dance on top of dugouts.

Can such an environment break through with an American audience if there are no fans in the stands to create the excitement those elements usually would?

“Probably the most unique aspect of Korean baseball is actually the fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re up by six or down by 10. They will do their ritual. They will dance and they will sing. They don’t pay much attention to the scoreboard and let that dictate their energy and enthusiasm. We’ll miss that part of it.”

In terms of the quality of play, Ravech says the KBO is not on par with the top league in Japan. By comparison to the American game, Ravech puts the talent in the KBO somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A.

Baseball’s most outspoken American fans are notoriously stodgy about the game’s “unwritten rules.” Any time a player flips a bat after a big home run, you can log onto social media and see the fun police out in full force demanding that player be drilled in the head in his next at bat for daring to smile.

Ravech says those kind of fans may not like all of the bat flipping they see in the KBO, but it will definitely create conversation about the league and its games.

“Whether it originated in Korea, let’s just say they’ve mastered it. There is a high finish. And the bat never comes back down until it lands on the ground after it’s been thrown. They’re into that very high finish. Bat leaves the hand when they believe they hit a home run. That’s all over YouTube and everywhere else – and it will be part of our telecast tonight. Yes, you’re 100% right to suggest that bat flips are something people will absolutely be talking about.”

On Monday, ESPN announced a deal that would see six KBO games air on ESPN2 every week. Games will be carried in the overnight hours every Tuesday through Sunday with ESPN’s top name baseball talent calling the action from their home studios.

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Peter King: ‘Tom Brady Needs To Study Cris Collinsworth’

“He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it like it is.”

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Peter King dedicated a not-insignificant portion of his “Football Morning in America” column this week to advice for Tom Brady. FOX announced last week that the Buccaneers’ quarterback will become the network’s lead NFL analyst upon his retirement.

Brady’s decision and his reported salary have been the source of much speculation and prediction amongst his soon-to-be colleagues.

King is optimistic that Tom Brady will be entertaining and informative when he makes his FOX debut. He did offer the GOAT a little bit of advice about what he should be doing in the months leading up to calling it quits on his playing days and starting his new career.

“I think what I’d do if I were Brady is study Cris Collinsworth—and honest to goodness, I don’t say that because I work for NBC,” he wrote. “I say it because Collinsworth knows how to talk X’s-and-O’s conversationally, he’s an easy listen, and he can criticize when the time comes.”

Interestingly, last week, Collinsworth says he hears from most former players that are getting ready to make the jump to broadcasting. He was surprised he never heard from Tom Brady before FOX announced their deal.

King had two other suggestions. The first was that Brady watch multiple games from start to finish so that he can hear what the give-and-take between a broadcaster and analyst sounds like. The other is that he has to commit to being interesting and not censoring himself. King has faith that Brady will be able to do that.

“He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it like it is. On that LeBron James show last year, Brady said, ‘Ninety percent of what I say is not what I’m thinking. There’s a part of me that doesn’t like conflict, so in the end I always just try to play it super-flat.’ That has to end once he’s on TV if he wants to be any good.”

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Nick Wright Critical Of ABC Crew As Giannis Antetokounmpo Struggles In Game 7

“He reminded his followers on Twitter that the two-time MVP has put together some amazing performances in this series.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo started hot in Game 7 on Sunday. By the time the game ended though, the Boston Celtics were on their way to Miami for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and the defending champions were headed back to Milwaukee.

The Celtics’ defense gave the Milwaukee Bucks fits in the second half. The ABC broadcast put a special spotlight on Antetokounmpo, who got multiple drives to the basket that he could not finish.

“The best has got to show up when the best is needed, and Giannis has been disappointing,” said Mark Jackson over a package of highlights of Giannis missing shots. “As great of a player as he is, given credit to the Celtics’ defense, but he has struggled offensively time and time again.”

Nick Wright of FS1 noticed and he didn’t appreciate it. He reminded his followers on Twitter that the two-time MVP has put together some amazing performances in this series.

Mike Been, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy were not particularly hard on Giannis. The trio made the typical comments we hear when things aren’t going a great player’s way.

Wright did not harp on the issue beyond the single tweet. The outcome was not in doubt as the clock winded down. He gave credit to the Celtics rather than tweet about the Bucks or Giannis.

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Stephanie McMahon: WWE Is A Better Advertising Investment Than Sports

“We can script the buzzer-beater moments, we can script the Hail Marys.”

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Everyone knows that professional wrestling is scripted. The storylines, the outcomes of matches, all of it is predetermined. But in the eyes of WWE, that’s what makes their product so different, and better than traditional sports.

WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon told Deadline that when it comes to pitching advertisers, sports entertainment allows room for a range of different approaches to make something work.

“We can script the buzzer-beater moments, we can script the Hail Marys,” she said. “We have a leg up on sports. … You may object to what we do, but you’re never going to be bored.”

McMahon added that WWE has a much easier process in dealing with sponsors. Everything is handled in-house.

“We own all of the IP,” she said. “When brands deal with us, they just deal with us. We create something together.”

WWE is coming off a positive Q1 earnings report, which had the company up 27% in total revenue. Its two weekly primetime shows, Monday Night RAW and Friday Night SmackDown, continue to do well in ratings, and all special and pay-per-view events, in addition to its streaming platform WWE Network, are all housed on Peacock.

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