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Tim Kurkjian: It Isn’t Fair To Blame Players For MLB Covid Outbreaks

“My guess is if we have another outbreak, that might be enough to say the schedule is too messed up, the integrity of the game is in question, but most important, the health and safety of all people around the game is in question.”

Ricky Keeler

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As the baseball season goes into its second full week, the presence of COVID-19 continues to make itself known. The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies will return to the field this week after a week off of games (Phillies had 2 false positive tests). However, the St. Louis Cardinals have not played since Wednesday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in their own organization. 

With several teams having to put their schedule on hold due to the pandemic, it has led people to believe the chances of a season being completed are falling. On Monday morning, ESPN baseball insider Tim Kurkjian was on The Jake Asman Show on SportsMap Radio and he mentioned he is not confident the season will be completed.

“The game is in turmoil and it should be given what it is up against, a pandemic like we have never seen before,” the ESPN writer said. “My guess is if we have another outbreak, that might be enough to say the schedule is too messed up, the integrity of the game is in question, but most important, the health and safety of all people around the game is in question. The commissioner does not want to make the decision, but he might not have a choice.”

On Friday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with ESPN’s Karl Ravech about what has gone in the game and Ravech got this response from Manfred: 

Some might be quick to solely blame players for their actions in causing games to not be played. However, Kurkjian said it is not fair to do that.

“We don’t know that much about this disease to say here’s what happened there. I think the bottom line is when this started, we were asking a bunch of young guys in their early 20’s to show discipline and restraint that maybe they have never shown in their whole life. That was a challenge to begin with and obviously some mistakes have been made, but to blame the players for this entirely, I’m just not sure that’s fair either.”

Over the weekend, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain and New Cain made a statement on Saturday while Cespedes did not show up to the ballpark and his agent reportedly did not tell the team until the middle of Sunday’s game.

“I think more and more players will get fearful of where this is going, but I don’t see a mass exodus,” Kurkjian told Asman.

Like many in the industry, Kurkjian, who has been covering baseball for 41 years, has had to adjust to calling games remotely while not being at the ballpark due to the pandemic. He mentioned it has been a weird season but adjustments have to be made in an unprecedented time.

“I have done games with Karl Ravech (in Connecticut), Eduardo Perez (in Florida), and I am in Maryland. It is so weird trying to call and analyze a Major League game when you are not at a Major League game. We are all flexible. We all understand this is how it works. These are extraordinary circumstances and everyone has to make an adjustment.”

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Zolak and Bertrand Broadcast During Patriots/Panthers Fights

“I’ve never seen anything like this at a camp… this is great today,” beamed Zolak.

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Zolak and Bertrand

Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand were broadcasting live from the New England Patriots’ joint practice with the Carolina Panthers. During their show, things got heated between the two teams, multiple times, and the show was there to call it all.

Bertrand was bringing the show back from commercial break and noted that there had just been a fight moments before Zolak and Bertrand were live.

“This drill got escalated by the Panthers here,” said co-host and former Patriots quarterback. “This is number three (fights)in a freaking kickoff drill. A kickoff drill!”

Shortly after, Bertrand was describing the efforts to separate the two teams when even more chaos erupted.

“They’ve separated all the players,” began Bertrand, sensing some calm was being restored. “They’ve sent them on their way to the next period so you’ve got — and now here comes another fight. Another major fight! It’s happening right in front of the stands.”

“These guys are a-holes man,” spoke Zolak. “Get these clowns out of here. All they want to do is fight. This is unreal. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“What a scene,” said Bertrand.

“I’ve never seen anything like this at a camp… this is great today,” beamed Zolak. “Thank God we’re down here!”

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1140 The Bet Cancels ‘The Playmakers’

The show, hosted by Lindsey Brown and Adrian Hernandez, aired from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

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In another cut from Audacy, 1140 The Bet has cancelled The Playmakers on their Las Vegas station.

The show, hosted by Lindsey Brown and Adrian Hernandez, aired from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Brown tweeted the news, saying “Sadly I have been informed that yesterday was our final show. I am thankful for the people it brought into my life & the experiences we created I am incredibly proud of our work & the boundaries we are eager to push in sportz radio. Today is a tough day. Tomorrow is on the way.”

Hernandez followed up by tweeting “I can’t put into words right now how I feel right now but in my radio journey from College in Tampa to Phoenix and now Las Vegas you were the best teammate I’ve ever had in radio and more importantly a great person. I appreciate and will miss you Badass Brown.”

According to the station’s website, it will replace The Playmakers with You Better You Bet from the BetQL Network.

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Sports Radio News

1250-AM The Fan in Milwaukee Reportedly Cancels Local Programming

The station is streaming CBS Sports and has removed the local daily lineup from the 1250 AM The Fan website.

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1250 AM The Fan

Stunning sports radio news out of Milwaukee. 1250-AM The Fan has suddenly removed all of its local programming and switched over to CBS Sports Radio.

The news came as a shock to local listeners but even more surprising to the station’s staff. Here’s a tweet from Evan Heffelfinger noting that today was “everyone’s” last day at the station.

The station’s stream is currently airing CBS Sports Radio. The local daily lineup has also been removed from the 1250 The Fan website although show podcasts still remain.

In regards to the station’s talent, most have been quiet since the news began to trickle out. The Milwaukee Business Journal reported that recent NFL Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler was part of the cuts. Bart Winkler, Tim Allen, and Gary Ellerson are expected to be out as well.

“Over the past few years, Audacy has been on a transformational journey, investing in our capabilities to serve our listeners and customers and accelerate our growth through a number of strategic acquisitions, enhancements to our platform, and the addition of hundreds of team members to our workforce,” explained an Audacy spokesperson. “We remain committed to this exciting transformation which has made us a much stronger organization, but in light of current macroeconomic headwinds, like so many other companies, we have been proactively taking actions to mitigate against the impact of any downturn. These include evaluating budgets, reducing expenses, and also reducing our workforce.”

One host who is expected to remain involved is Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer. Fifer was part of the midday show, and also helped behind the scenes. According to sources, he’s likely to contribute off-air and with additional brand projects. The rest will have an opportunity to explore opportunities should any become available at 97.3 The Game, ESPN 94.1, WTMJ or any other local outlets.

Upon learning of the news, a few former 1250 hosts, Mike Wickett and Cliff Saunders, took to social media to share their sadness.

Ryan Maguire, who served as the PD of 1250 The Fan from 2006-2009, and is currently the PD of crosstown rivals ESPN Milwaukee and WTMJ, provided his perspective.

One host who left before the station was dismantled was former afternoon man Ramie Makhlouf. The longtime Milwaukee voice exited in June to join Sactown Sports 1140.

This is a developing story and as more information becomes available we’ll pass it along. 1250-AM The Fan is owned by Audacy, which just announced plans to reduce less than 5% of its programming staff.

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