The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is making significant programming and personnel changes to Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals broadcasts ahead of the 2021 MLB season, according to The Athletic.
There’s a long list of Orioles announcers who won’t retain their roles with the club this season, including Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter. Thorne did not participate in the Orioles 2020 season which was shortened by COVID-19, but an unresolved contract dispute was a contributing factor. Last summer, it was reported Thorne and the Orioles were working toward a contract resolution for the 72-year-old play-by-play voice to return for the 2021 season, but that’s no longer the case.
Hunter has been with the Orioles since 1997, where he’s worked as a play-by-play voice for both radio and TV, later contributing to the team’s pre and postgame coverage. Hunter announced on Twitter that he was parting with the Orioles.
“I was informed this week by [the Orioles] my contract will not be renewed for 2021 ending my career w/the ball club,” Hunter tweeted last Friday. “It’s disappointing to have my tenure come to an end especially since it was not my decision. For 24 years I gave my heart & soul to the broadcasts & now it’s over.”
Other Orioles broadcasters who reportedly won’t be returning to MASN during the 2021 season include Mike Bordick, Dave Johnson, Tom Davis and Rick Dempsey.
According to The Athletic, MASN recently informed both teams that the network would no longer provide pre and postgame coverage. Instead, it’s up to each team to independently fund their pre and postgame shows if they would like the programming to continue. As The Athletic notes, costs for talent, truck rentals, production, and rights fees can easily equate to totals in the millions.
MASN is uniquely co-owned by both the Orioles and Nationals, but Baltimore is the majority stakeholder. Baltimore owns 77 percent of the network with the Nationals holding just 23 percent. The Orioles received a majority share of the network in 2005, reaching the agreement after losing the Washington TV market to the Nationals who relocated from Montreal.
But it’s been a point of contention recently, with the Nationals arguing MASN’s current structure heavily favors the Orioles and both sides engaged in legal disputes over rights fees. In 2019, Major League Baseball’s arbitrator decided the Orioles owed $100 million to the Nationals based on fair market value from 2012-2016, but Baltimore has continued to appeal the ruling.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts
“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.
“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.
“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”
Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC
“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”
Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.
“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”
Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.
Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”
FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.
USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.
The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.