O's lineup of spring games includes places, not faces

The Baltimore Sun

Ladies and gentlemen, we have Orioles television news. No, not the announcement of on-air talent for games and the studio show. And, no, there isn't a deal that will put Mid-Atlantic Sports Network games on Dish Network.

But yesterday, MASN did release its schedule of telecasts for spring training.

Hey, you take what you can get.

MASN will televise seven Orioles games, starting March 3 against the Washington Nationals in Viera, Fla. (Last year, two exhibition games were carried.) And because that is a Nationals home contest, we even know who will be calling the game - MASN's previously named Nationals pairing of Bob Carpenter and Don Sutton.

MASN also is televising eight Nationals games. Four dates on the spring schedule are Orioles-Nationals games.

Viewers can get their first looks at the studio show, O's Xtra, on the March 28 and 31 telecasts. (Perhaps in an effort to save money, MASN has dropped the "e" in "extra.") Two MASN channels, which will accommodate Orioles and Nationals games during the regular season, won't be used until the March 30 and 31 exhibition games.

Now, as to the folks who will be talking about the action, despite the lack of a formal announcement, indications are that former Orioles catcher and coach Rick Dempsey and ex-WBFF sports anchor Amber Theoharis will work the pre- and post-game. Veteran sportscaster Gary Thorne is rumored to be in the running for the play-by-play job. Jim Palmer said yesterday that he expects to again split analyst duties about half-and-half with Buck Martinez.

Direct hit

Major League Baseball is near a deal to move its Extra Innings package exclusively to DirecTV from InDemand cable service. This package allows, say, a Baltimorean living in Seattle to watch Orioles games otherwise unavailable in his market.

Should the deal go through, that same Baltimorean would need to buy DirecTV's satellite service instead of cable if he wanted to see Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts while he sat in his living room, drinking coffee and wearing his flannel shirt.

According to a report by The Sports Network, DirecTV, with 15 million households, would put Extra Innings in 60 million fewer homes than InDemand. But DirecTV would pay $30 million more a year.

The NFL's version of Extra Innings, Sunday Ticket, already is available exclusively on DirecTV.

So, to sum up, when it comes to this deal, MLB will - you see it coming - dish it out, and we just have to take it.

Keep counting

Jerry Seinfeld had this routine in which he asked why McDonald's was still counting the number of hamburgers sold. "Look, we all get it. You have sold a lot of hamburgers."

That's sort of how I feel about ESPN's celebration of its 30,000th SportsCenter show.

On Sunday night at 10:30, ESPN will mark the occasion with a 90-minute show, anchored by Steve Levy and Stuart Scott, that will mix the day's news with appearances by Chris Berman, Bob Ley and Dan Patrick to look back at three 10,000-show "eras."

And yet again we'll see Berman reporting from San Francisco after Dwight Clark's Catch, and Beano Cook steaming when he tries to do a segment and he can't hear anyone, and Charley Steiner busting up at his bloopers, and stop me if you've seen these before because anyone who has ever watched ESPN has seen all this stuff over and over.

To quote Seinfeld, we all get it.

A word from New York

Just thought I'd pass this along, from the New York Post's Phil Mushnick, who has been commenting on sports media longer and more passionately than just about anyone else:

"Throughout this NFL season, ESPN made shame-shame at the Bengals. Seven Bengals arrested, one four times. Then an eighth, and now nine.

"But [Sunday], on its Super Bowl pre-game, ESPN was proud to introduce its 'special guest analyst,' Ray Lewis. ...

"Yep, Ray Lewis, a fellow who impeded the investigation of a still unsolved double murder, was chosen by ESPN as guest analyst. But, oh, those bad, bad Bengals."


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