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New Sunday Night Baseball Booth Focused On Modern Game

“You’re going to see us genuinely get excited about today’s game at a time when that’s really needed on a national broadcast.”

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Amid a period of skepticism and uncertainty across Major League Baseball, ESPN continues to look forward to the conclusion of the lockout, which it hopes leads to the start of the 2022 MLB regular season. The network recently announced a new Sunday Night Baseball booth with play-by-play announcer Karl Ravech and analysts David Cone and Eduardo Pérez, a trio it believes will fit the current landscape of baseball in the digital age.

“I think that the beauty of this team, in short, is [to be] able to embrace the traditional aspects of Major League Baseball and mix in the more modern aspects, whether that be analytics or something else,” said ESPN Senior Vice President of Production and Remote Operations Mark Gross.

Balancing traditional and modern aspects of the game is critical for Cone, who still intends to broadcast 50 games this season as a part of New York Yankees baseball on the YES Network. The importance of emphasizing and embracing the game today, rather than solely reflecting on what the game was like when he and Pérez played, is something he believes will enhance the broadcast for its viewing audience.

“In a lot of the baseball broadcasts around the country, you hear a lot of: ‘Yeah, the game was better back when I played.’ That’s not the case here,” Cone explained. “You’re going to see us genuinely get excited about today’s game at a time when that’s really needed on a national broadcast.”

Despite criticism regarding the previous Sunday Night Baseball booth not talking about the game enough, Ravech believes there is a place for the conversational nature of broadcasting in the evolving digital age. Talking about subjects not related to baseball, though, is something dictated by the action on the field and the rapport of the booth.

“I tend to be real dependent and reliant on my analysts,” said Ravech, who has been with ESPN since 1993. “I’m not an ‘I’ or ‘me’ guy – I’m a ‘we’ guy – and this group of three is what [will make] this succeed… The chemistry aspect of [the booth] is the last part of my concern. This will be a group that gets along really well, and [I hope] it will show.”

Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN will return for the 2022 regular season and telecast 25 games, along with other exclusive games throughout the season, including MLB Opening Night. Additionally, ESPN will also debut a new alternate presentation titled Kay-Rod, which will discuss the game each week, along with special guest appearances and on-air integrations of analytics and fantasy baseball.

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Sports TV News

‘Saturday Night Live’ Spoofs Yao Ming Replacing Shaq on ‘Inside The NBA’

The entire Kings team was out due to COVID, so a replacement squad of fans and arena support took its place.

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Saturday Night Live on YouTube

Most of the headlines surrounding the 2021-22 NBA season thus far have concerned COVID outbreaks and several teams unable to field competitive rosters because of positive tests and close contacts.

This past weekend, Saturday Night Live joked about the NBA’s COVID difficulties with a sketch spoofing TNT’s Inside the NBA covering a horribly one-sided game between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings. The entire Kings team was out due to COVID, so a replacement squad of fans and arena support staff took its place.

At halftime, Sacramento trailed 268-1. Nets guard James Harden took advantage of the matchup versus Kings equipment manager Dougie McCormick, outscoring his opponent, 83 points to zero.

“In my opinion, the biggest thing to me is that the Kings don’t have any NBA players, whereas the Nets do,” said analyst Charles Barkley (Kenan Thompson).

Check out the sketch below:

The SNL sketch also made fun of broadcasters who have missed on-air assignments due to COVID. James Brown and Tony Romo are among the names who have been sidelined in recent weeks.

In this sketch, it’s Shaquille O’Neal who can’t join the broadcast. Taking his place is former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming (played by Bowen Yang). At 7-foot-6, he’s a mismatch at the Inside the NBA studio desk with Barkley, Ernie Johnson (Alex Moffat), and Kenny Smith (Chris Redd). Ming also isn’t as polished as most professional broadcasters when explaining why the Kings were losing so badly.

“They’re tiny people,” he said, sounding like Lurch from The Addams Family. “Too small.”

Succinct and right to the point! Maybe we need more of that from studio analysts on sports broadcasts.

What this sketch really needed was Ming racing Smith to the giant TV screen in the TNT studio. Unfortunately, Saturday Night Live‘s Studio 8H really isn’t set up for that sort of visual gag. Plus, the sketch would’ve been ruined by Yang having to stand up. Next time, maybe this can be a digital short instead.

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Netflix Adds ‘Drive to Survive’ Producer for Tennis Series

“It looks like the tennis series will start off with a bang due to the events that have ensued dealing with top-ranked player Novak Djokovic. “

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Netflix has shown a great interest in sports as of recent. The success of shows such as The Last Dance have proven to drive traffic to the streaming service. Box to Box Films, makers of Netflix’s hit Formula 1 series Drive to Survive, is working on a tennis docuseries that looks to be forming into drama-filled excitement. Multiple tours and tournaments, men’s and women’s, will be included in the docuseries starting with this month’s Australian Open.

The racing docuseries is credited with a huge increase in F1’s popularity, especially in the U.S. The 2021 season averaged 931,000 viewers through its first 14 races – up 53% from 2020 and 40% from a comparable period in 2019.

It looks like the tennis series will start off with a bang due to the events that have ensued dealing with top-ranked player Novak Djokovic. Djokovic was deported from Australia after he refused to get vaccinated against COVID, contracted the virus, and acknowledged making false statements on documents regarding his whereabouts prior to traveling to the country.

He will miss out on a shot at a record 21st Grand Slam championship and up to $2.1 million in prize money.

Netflix is also working on a golf series with the PGA Tour, similarly modeled after the F1 show.

CEO Reed Hastings reportedly said he would consider bidding on F1 rights to enter into the live sports arena, which Netflix has not yet pursued.

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Dan Orlovsky: ‘I’m Competitive About Film Study’

“Nothing makes me happier or brings me more joy when I find something on tape that no one else can.”

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ESPN Images

Every week, people tune in to either Get Up on Mondays or NFL Live during the week to listen to Dan Orlovsky and see him breaking down film on the touchscreen. The film breakdown is something Orlovsky has become synonymous with since he joined ESPN in 2018.

Orlovsky was a guest on Ryan Clark’s Face First podcast on Friday and mentioned that grinding tape brings back the competitive edge that he had when he was a quarterback in the NFL.

“Nothing makes me happier or brings me more joy when I find something on tape that no one else can. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to being in the game. It’s live. You don’t get the opportunity to do it 14 times.”

In addition to that, the 12-year NFL veteran knows that he only has so much time to get the viewer’s attention when breaking down a play and that he only has one chance to get it right.

Over the past year, Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Clark have done touchscreens together on Get Up or NFL Live. While Orlovsky mentioned that at first he thought that it was his thing, he has learned from Clark that “we” is more important than “me”.

“That was a struggle for me. The ego is part of it. The “this is mine!” is part of it. I want me, me, me. Ryan Clark has taught me this year that we is better than me. I’ve realized that the better our show does, the more that it allows each person to be filled with the pride of the moment. If I’m not interested in what you are saying, how the heck is the person watching going to be interested?”

Even though Dan Orlovsky has his own goals for the future in the industry, he feels he has accomplished something what he set out to when he joined first ESPN.

“When I got into this, my goal was I wanted to be a trusted and respected voice when it came to talking about football and I hope I’ve accomplished that. The goal is a moving target. We are in an everchanging media world. I love calling games. I want to be on a very important game weekly.” 

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