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Root Sports Launching In Houston

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AT&T and DirecTV were granted a clear path Thursday to launch Root Sports Houston, the new television home for Astros and Rockets games, and to begin televising Rockets games as early as this month.

Based on an agreement between Comcast lawyers and attorneys for AT&T, DirecTV, the Astros and Rockets, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes dissolved the last court-imposed delay against closing the new network deal.

However, it remains unclear when Comcast SportsNet Houston, the teams’ current home, will fade to black and Root Sports Houston, which will have carriage on DirecTV and AT&T U-verse in addition to Comcast cable, will take its place.

“There’s still a process. We don’t have an announcement on when this will allow us to (launch the new network),” said Rockets general counsel Rafael Stone. “But there’s a clear path with no more legal obstacles.”

Attorneys reached an agreement that allows Comcast to continue its appeal on financial aspects of the year-long CSN Houston bankruptcy case and for the teams to close on the transactions that will accompany the network sale and the transfer of their broadcast rights to Root Sports Houston.

Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur on Oct. 30 approved a reorganization plan that approved the sale of the Astros-Rockets-Comcast-owned network to AT&T and DirecTV. He also imposed a 14-day stay to allow Comcast to appeal the ruling.

Comcast appealed Isgur’s ruling to Hughes and sought to stay the decision while it appealed.

However, Comcast attorneys said Wednesday their primary motive on appeal will be to recoup a $100 million loan granted CSN Houston for startup costs in 2012 and that they would not stand in the way of launching the new network.

Attorneys for the teams, in turn, agreed the new network’s launch would not be viewed as nullifying Comcast’s rights on appeal.

Accordingly. Hughes denied the motion to stay Isgur’s order and also terminated the automatic stay granted by the bankruptcy court.

Attorneys earlier indicated the new network could launch on Nov. 14, but DirecTV would not confirm that date. CSN Houston’s current telecast schedule now extends through Sunday, Nov. 16.

“It’s great for the city,” said Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. “It’s great for the Rockets fans, and I’m thrilled. Thank you very much to Judge Hughes for letting fans be able to watch the Rockets.”

Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe added, “We’re ready to get the games on TV. It’s great to start the Rockets’ season. It’s great for the fans of Houston. It’s an exciting time.”

Under the reorganization plan approved by Isgur, the teams and Comcast will lose their network equity, and the teams agreed to forego immediate payment of more than $100 million in unpaid rights fees.

Only 45 of the 141 CSN Houston employees will be retained by the new network, which will show Rockets and Astros games but will not retain CSN Houston’s news and talk shows.

Comcast will continue to contest Isgur’s determination that Comcast is not due full repayment of its $100 million secured loan. Comcast is now scheduled to receive only $26 million.

Attorneys met behind closed doors for more than 90 minutes Wednesday and also met with Hughes, who apparently encouraged a settlement that would enable him to avoid having to rule on the stay request.

“One reason I want to handle this as expeditiously as possible is so I can get rid of you guys,” he said. “This hasn’t been much fun the last 15 months.”

Attorneys now will work on legal briefings related to the financial issues, which may be discussed after the Thanksgiving holidays.

CSN Houston launched in October 2012 but was never available on DirecTV, U-verse, Dish Network or Suddenlink cable. Limited carriage resulted in limited revenue, and Comcast filed to put the network into involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2013 when the Astros said they would retake their broadcast rights because of unpaid rights fees.

Credit to the Houston Chronicle who originally posted this article

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Peter Schrager: ‘Next Good Morning Football Host Has Massive Shoes To Fill’

“I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it.”

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This week, Good Morning Football ended up winning a Sports Emmy for the best daily studio show. It is a show that has turned into part most football fans’ morning routines. However, there will be new people on the panel eventually with the departures of Nate Burleson and Kay Adams

This week, one of those left, Peter Schrager, was on The Pat McAfee Show. He did not have a name for McAfee that would fill the role Adams leaves behind and he isn’t going to interfere in the process of the executives picking the next host. 

“I would think that there is going to be a long line of people who will want that,” he said. “Those are massive shoes to fill. I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it. But, for now, I trust the executives to hire someone who is going to take care of that hosting job.” 

As for Burleson’s seat, the show has used a number of ex-players to fill-in. Schrager likes it that way because he can learn many different stories each week: 

“Nate and I can finish each other’s sentences. Now, you have a guy I don’t know the story this player is going to tell. I don’t know where he’s going to take it and I think it’s kind of cool for us.” 

Last summer, Schrager hosted The Flying Coach podcast on The Ringer with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Unfortunately, there will be no season 2 of that show this summer. That doesn’t mean there won’t be another season of the podcast in the future though. 

“I won’t do it without McVay. I begged him. He’s just out….He’s getting married this offseason. He’s got his honeymoon. He’s like, we’ll pick it up another offseason. I’m upset. I love doing it. All these new coaches, Sean and I would have had a good time with it and we talked about it, but it’s his decision and he’s saying no and I totally get it. He’s really good at it and he liked it. He’ll have opportunities and you see some of these numbers that these guys are getting. Trust me, he’s aware.”

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Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”

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Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”

Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.

Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.

“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”

After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.

RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.

“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.

Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.

There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.

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Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”

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Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.

Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.

“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”

La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”

Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.

While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.

“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”

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