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Will Middlebrooks ‘Takes Pride’ In NESN Opportunity

“There’s something to be said and I take pride in this. I see the game differently than a lot of players that are in the media because a lot of players that are in the media are Hall-of-Famers.”

Ricky Keeler

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This season, 6-year MLB veteran Will Middlebrooks got to be a part of the NESN network doing pre and postgame shows before games and he got to be an analyst in the booth for the end of the season. Even though he may not be a household name to people outside of New England, Middlebrooks wants to share his perspective of the game to fans that may be different from others:

Middlebrooks was a guest on The Jared Carrabis Podcast this week and he said that he feels he can look at the game differently because the game didn’t come as easy to him as it did for other former big leaguers currently in the media.

“There’s something to be said and I take pride in this. I see the game differently than a lot of players that are in the media because a lot of players that are in the media are Hall-of-Famers. MLB Network, they want Hall-of-Famers or not even just Hall-of-Famers, players that had 10-15 year careers and were really good players. ESPN, they want Hall-of-Famers. FOX, TBS, they want Hall-of-Famers…I enjoy hearing what those guys have to say, but the game looked easy to them.

“I’m not going to say they didn’t grind or went through their own battles, but not like most of us. Most of us, it’s a really hard game and it beats the shit out of you for years and mentally you just crumble….I just feel like that’s what’s going to help me in being critical of players because I can explain to you why they screwed up.”

While in the booth, Middlebrooks knows his audience may not lean highly on analytics, but he knows he needs to blend in advanced stats in order to get people to come to the game so that baseball has its next generation of fans.

“It’s finding that line for this audience. You think about Boston and Red Sox fans, there’s way more 70-year-olds watching than 20-year-olds. That’s Red Sox baseball. The older you get, the more you probably love it….They want nothing to do with me talking about launch angle. They probably throw up in their mouths when I bring it up.

“But, if you want to grow the game, you need the younger generation to be those 70-year-olds one day and right now is when you kind of have to grab them. I’ll mix it in and I’ll find ways to mix it in in that old-school way.”

If Middlebrooks does more games for NESN in 2023, he will always remember the advice Dennis Eckersley gave to him in the booth and Middlebrooks called that a special moment for him and not something to take for granted.

“He was so passionate. I felt like he didn’t feel he was in the booth. We were on cam for a lot of that and they eventually went off-cam and he was still talking for a little bit. I looked over and he’s in tears. This means so much to this guy. It would be disrespectful of me to not take this seriously and not put everything I can into it if I get to do some games next year just because of how much he cares. It was cool. It was special.”

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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