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Hudler Shines By Being Himself

Jason Barrett

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The loudest voice of the Royals is driving up I-35, and if there is a radar gun ahead, Rex Hudler is going to have a problem. It is 8:42 on a recent morning and he’s running a bit late, but he’d probably be speeding anyway. The Royals broadcaster doesn’t do slow. Never has.

The alarm went off at 6 this morning. His wife, like most humans, likes to lie in bed for a bit. Hit the snooze button. Hudler’s feet hit the floor within seconds. He is like a red-headed 54-year-old windup toy, only you never know what’s about to come out of his mouth, and one pull of the string lasts all day.

He is in the middle of, like, the fourth of a hundred stories in a day that started at 6 and won’t end until around 11 that night, after he broadcasts the 126th of 162 games in what is shaping up to be a historic Royals season.

There was the time he got promoted from Class A by writing George Steinbrenner a letter. The time he took out a teammate with a slide during a spring training B-game at 9 in the morning. The time he bought two engagement rings just to make sure she said yes.

All the times he’s talked to God, the big man always calling him Hud, and the time he got fired by the Angels, then hired by the Royals, and mostly hated by his new city. That was hard. There was also the time he found out his first son had Down syndrome. That was harder.

But at the moment, he is talking about baseball, so he is smiling and taking his sunglasses off to look you in the eye even as he speeds down the highway and steers with his leg.

“The feeling I get coming to the ballpark now is the same as when I played,” Hudler says. “I know who’s pitching that night, and I’m thinking about that (expletive). He’s the guy I’m going to make a living off of. He’s the man who’s going to pay my family, and my future. That’s how serious it is. I’d stand in the batters box, ‘My family against yours, (expletive). Let’s go.’

By the time the day is over, Hud — even his wife, Jennifer, calls him that — will have laughed and cried and kissed each of his three sons.

He will have talked about experimenting with drugs, of starting six straight seasons with the same minor-league team, and of asking to play one last game before retiring at the age of 37 — a game in which he got hit in the neck with a pitch, then lost the game by whiffing a routine grounder at second base.

For three hours every night, he is the goofball announcer some call Uncle Hud. Every day, Royals fans come up to him and say they never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. And every day, he tells them, “That makes two of us.”

Once, his tongue got tied and he ended up calling a backup Royals outfielder “Paulo Homo.” Another time, he called the moon a planet. He said the Astros use the metric system. He laughs these things off, even when Jennifer playfully calls him an idiot, and (not as playfully) begs him to stay away from big words on the air.

The stories come out in real life the same as they do during his broadcasts: fast, loud, occasionally mangled, often self-deprecating and usually out of nowhere. The difference is they are about a complicated life, not a simple game, and he doesn’t have to watch his language.

To read the rest of the article visit the Kansas City Star where it was originally published

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Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese Matchup on ESPN is Most-Watched WNBA Game Since Memorial Day 2001

Eight of the nine games with more than an average of 1 million viewers have included Clark and the Fever.

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Courtesy: ESPN

The Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky have been embedded within the conversation surrounding the WNBA this season as both teams aim to contend for a league championship. The Fever selected Iowa guard and NCAA Basketball all-time scoring leader Caitlin Clark with the first-overall selection in the WNBA Draft, while the Sky chose LSU forward and former national champion Angel Reese seventh. Clark and Reese faced one another for the third time in the WNBA on Sunday, drawing an average of 2.3 million viewers on ESPN. It was the second consecutive week in which a matchup between these two rookies surpassed 2 million viewers and represents the most-watched WNBA game since Memorial Day 2001.

Before the WNBA season began, the league had not surpassed an average of 1 million viewers for a game in 16 years. Amid the 2024 regular season as it stands, the league has shattered that outcome nine times with more than half of the schedule to go. Eight of those nine games have had Clark and the Fever, which includes the team’s Friday night game against the Atlanta Dream. That matchup averaged 1.18 million viewers on ION, the largest WNBA audience the network has ever attained as it continues the second season of its three-year media rights deal.

Reese, along with Sky rookie Kamilla Cardoso, received media exemptions following a change in the WNBA media season access policy. This means that they will be exempt from media availability following morning shootarounds; however, they will still be available in pregame and postgame windows throughout the season. It is unknown if this change will extend to other teams around the league as the season continues, but the rule states that two members of the team can be exempt from speaking with media after morning shootaround. Sky players had previously demonstrated frustration by questions pertaining to the flagrant 1 foul committed by Sky guard Chennedy Carter on Clark in early June.

The NBA is reportedly negotiating media rights deals including the WNBA and is expected to leave a slate of games available for a separate deal later. NBA media rights are expected to be granted to The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video following the conclusion of next season, although no resolutions have officially been announced. Reports have indicated that the NBA expected to net $76 billion over the term of the new deals, which would nearly triple the fiscal value of its existing rights. Moreover, the WNBA could quadruple the money it receives from media rights to $240 million per year, according to a recent report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

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FOX Sports Draws Over 3 Million Viewers for USMNT Copa América Opener

This makes the game the most watched non-World Cup soccer telecast ever on FOX.

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Sunday night’s soccer matchup between the United States Men’s National Team and Bolivia, which the USMNT won 2-0 drew an average audience of 3,165,000 viewers on FOX Sports according to Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics. This makes the game the most watched non-World Cup soccer telecast ever on FOX and the most watched English language Copa América telecast ever in the United States.

The game peaked at 4,013,000 viewers from 6:30 p.m. ET to 6:45 p.m. ET. The top local markets were San Diego, Washington D.C., Austin and Kansas City.

FOX Sports said the game was up 191% from last year’s USMNT Concacaf Gold Cup telecast and up 108% from the 2016 average of USMNT Copa América Group Stage telecasts which were carried on FS1.

The next USMNT Copa América game is scheduled for Thursday, Jun 27 against Panama at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, followed by another Group Stage game on Monday, July 1 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1. The CONMEBOL Copa América is taking place in the U.S. through Sunday, July 14.

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Stephen A. Smith Reportedly Looking for a ‘Pat McAfee Agreement’ with ESPN

“…Smith covets the blockbuster deal that the network used to persuade McAfee to decamp last year from FanDuel.”

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Last week John Ourand of Puck reported the news that negotiations had begun between ESPN and top personality Stephen A. Smith, host and Executive Producer of First Take. The report said ESPN had made an initial offer of 5 years and $90 million which would make Smith the top paid talent at ESPN. Yesterday Ourand reported the deal Smith is looking for is similar to the deal ESPN has with Pat McAfee which brought his The Pat McAfee Show over from Fan Duel.

Ourand writes, “…Smith covets the blockbuster deal that the network used to persuade McAfee to decamp last year from FanDuel. Notably, ESPN pays McAfee’s production company, which operates his talk show, $25 million a year—a fee that covers all its operating costs: salaries, insurance, fixed costs, etcetera. ESPN has also offered him about $5 million a year to appear on College GameDay, sources told me(McAfee has yet to sign the deal.)”

Some in the media have responded to the story about Smith’s contract and point to how much work he is already doing for ESPN and how often he appears on the network. According to Ourand, Smith isn’t looking for less work, he may in fact be looking for more.

Ourand wrote in his subscription newsletter, The Varsity, that he has been told Smith and his agents with WME have said Smith would like to be more involved in production, appear on more of its NFL programs and be available for anything needed by the advertising and affiliate relations departments.

Smith has not commented on the current negotiations, but when asked by Clay Travis recently if being the highest paid person at ESPN is important to him, Smith said:

“Yes. I’m not stuttering. Hell yes. I’ve mastered my own business. In the world of sports television, Clay Travis, I’ve been number one for twelve years…not only have I been number one every year I’ve been number one every week and every month of every year for the last twelve years. You don’t get to say that about too many people…I am so honored to have the colleagues I have…I’m the one that’s been No. 1 and at the end of the day, it would be nice one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like, ‘I’m No. 1 and this says I’m No. 1.”

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