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Padres Pursuing Orsillo

Jason Barrett

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The Red Sox are down to the final 10 games of their season, which means Don Orsillo is down to the final 10 games of his 15-season run as the play-by-play voice of the team on NESN.

The network’s decision to replace the popular Orsillo with Dave O’Brien next season generated extraordinary local backlash when the story broke Aug. 25. Fans are certain to give Orsillo a warm sendoff at Fenway during the disappointing season’s waning days.

But those who aren’t satisfied with the explanation for the decision — team chairman Tom Werner has told other media outlets that the Orsillo-for-O’Brien swap was made to “reenergize” the broadcast — can take solace in an emerging truth.

Career-wise, Orsillo may end up in a sunnier place.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the San Diego Padres are aggressively pursuing Orsillo for a significant role with their television broadcast team on Fox Sports San Diego.

Orsillo has spoken with the Padres about a long-term contract that includes an opportunity to broadcast some national games for parent company Fox Sports.

The Padres possibility makes sense. Dick Enberg, a broadcasting legend who currently calls Padres games, is 80 years old and announced Wednesday night that 2016 would be his final season. It’s uncertain how Orsillo would fit in next year if he lands in San Diego, but Enberg already works a reduced schedule — he’ll call in the vicinity of 140 games this year.

Former Red Sox executive Mike Dee is the Padres’ president and CEO. Orsillo has long had Dee’s respect, and Padres owner Ron Fowler is also said to be a fan. The downside to a move to the West Coast is a personal one. Orsillo has two daughters from a previous marriage, and he lives in Smithfield, R.I., now to be close to them.

According to Orsillo’s agent, Brad Blank, other franchises (one is believed to be the Dodgers) have shown interest in hiring the broadcaster. ESPN also has reached out. But the Padres possibility is the clear front-runner. A deal is unlikely to be official until around Oct. 4, when the Red Sox season ends and Orsillo can turn his attention toward considering the possibilities.

“Don has drawn a lot of interest, and San Diego has been incredibly gracious, but there are elements to any deal that still need to be sorted out,” said Blank. “We’re not popping the champagne bottles just yet.”

Credit to the Boston Globe who originally published this article

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Sports Media Remembers Bill Walton, NBA Hall of Famer and Emmy Award Winning Broadcaster, Gone at the Age of 71

“Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary which entertained generations of basketball fans.”

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Bill Walton
Courtesy: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Bill Walton, a legendary NBA Hall of Famer and Emmy Award winning broadcaster has died at the age of 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind. As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release. “His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships and a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.

“Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary which entertained generations of basketball fans. But what I will remember most about him was his zest for life. He was a regular presence at league events — always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. I treasured our close friendship, envied his boundless energy and admired the time he took with every person he encountered.”

Walton was an analyst on college basketball game broadcasts on ESPN and called games through the previous season, along with joining Westwood One for the Final Four in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Before his work at ESPN, he was a broadcaster nationally for CBS and NBC, and locally on LA Clippers games.

“Bill Walton was a legendary player and a singular personality who genuinely cherished every experience throughout the journey of his extraordinary life,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN, said in a statement. “Bill often described himself as ‘the luckiest guy in the world,’ but anyone who had the opportunity to interact with Bill was the lucky one. He was a truly special, giving person who always made time for others. Bill’s one-of-a-kind spirit captivated and inspired audiences during his second career as a successful broadcaster. We at ESPN extend our deepest condolences to Bill’s loved ones, including the entire Walton family.”

Several members of the sports media industry shared their memories of Walton on social media:

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Adam Silver: ‘Inside the NBA’ Team is Always Going To Be Covering the NBA

“I can’t imagine those guys won’t be performing and announcing together in the future and we all love them.”

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Screengrab of Adam Silver from TMZ Sports
Screengrab from TMZ Sports

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t seem as concerned about ‘Inside the NBA’ going away as NBA fans appear to be. Silver spoke to TMZ Sports on his way to the White House State Dinner and was asked about the possibility of losing the show.

“We’re never gonna lose Charles and Kenny. They’re always going to be covering the NBA,” Silver said. The interviewer then brought up how the show would continue if TNT were no longer carrying the NBA to which Silver replied, “Who knows? We’re all still talking. Who knows how it’s gonna work out?” 

He is then asked if he can still see the ‘Inside the NBA’ team working together. “I can’t imagine those guys won’t be performing and announcing together in the future and we all love them,” he said.

Reports continue to indicate the NBA has deals worked out with Disney/ESPN, Comcast/NBC and Amazon’s Prime Video for the three media rights packages available at the end of next season when agreements with Disney/ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT expire.

Most recently, speculation has been about the matching rights included in the current Warner Bros. Discovery agreement and whether or not they would try and match the Comcast offer for NBC, the Amazon offer for Prime Video, or neither of them. If and when WBD is presented with the offers, they would have five days to match, however, the definition of ‘matching’ one of the offers could end up being decided in a court room.

Based on his comments, Adam Silver appears to be optimistic NBA fans will not lose Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal from their lives, however, everyone still waits for a formal announcement amidst all the speculation.

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Rob Manfred: Diamond Sports Group Has ‘No Plan at This Point’

“They don’t have a deal with the NBA, they don’t have a deal with the NHL, and they don’t have a deal with us.”

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Rob Manfred
Courtesy: Jonathan Dyer, USA TODAY Sports

Diamond Sports Group recently reached a deal for carriage renewal with FuboTV, securing distribution of the Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks through the platform. In recent months, Diamond Sports Group has completed carriage renewals with Charter, Cox and DirecTV, but it has still been unable to reach an agreement with Comcast, which is said to provide 80% of the company’s revenue. As Diamond Sports Group seeks to enter Ch. 11 bankruptcy, there has been concern addressed by Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League pertaining to the viability of the company.

The Sinclair subsidiary was approved for $450 million in debtor-in-possession finance as it seeks to actualize a proposed restructuring. The allocation of such remuneration will be $350 million to pay its first-lien debt holders. Additional funds therein will be transferred the remainder to the company balance sheet. Under the terms of the proposed restructuring agreement, Diamond would continue to broadcast regional games while also accepting investment from Amazon, which agreed to pay $115 million in convertible notes upon the conclusion of the bankruptcy. Junior creditors would then assume operations of the subsidiary.

On Thursday, Diamond Sports Group filed a motion with the Houston bankruptcy court overseeing the case to propose a 41-day extension for the confirmation hearing. Although it was not listed in the document, granting such modifications would presumably allow more time for Diamond and Comcast to try and reach terms on an agreement. If the alteration is granted, Diamond’s confirmation hearing would take place on Monday, July 29. The company is also in the process of trying to negotiate deals with the NBA and NHL.

Following the conclusion of an MLB owners’ meeting in New York, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the ambiguity surrounding the future of Diamond Sports Group. Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks have not been broadcast by Comcast since the end of April, something MLB counsel James Bromley called “devastating” with several teams “facing substantial problems” as a result.

Manfred is not yet sure about the league’s support pertaining to Diamond Sports Group’s reorganization plan, but he still expects the company to carry regional games for the 12 MLB teams for which it has rights through the conclusion of the 2024 season. Major League Baseball continues to produce and disseminate games for the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks as it did last summer, along with the Colorado Rockies after AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain ceased operations at the end of last year.

“It’s hard to comment on whether we’re going to object or not because there is no plan at this point,” Manfred said. “Their whole plan is, you know, ‘We’re going to get deals with distributors…. We’re going to continue with the other leagues.’ They don’t have a deal with the NBA, they don’t have a deal with the NHL, and they don’t have a deal with us.”

MLB looks to develop its own streaming platform and has reportedly had discussions about nationalizing television rights for games. In testimony last year, Manfred recalled a meeting between him and Sinclair Broadcast Group executive chairman David Smith. Smith asked Manfred to grant the company direct-to-consumer broadcast rights to bolster its Bally Sports Plus app, to which Manfred replied that it would not happen, and that people cannot always get what they want. In response, Smith said that he would squeeze clubs to diminish rights fees to make sure he stayed profitable in the RSN business. If they did not agree to that, he explained that he would put Diamond Sports Group into bankruptcy and then selectively reject contracts.

“Right now we’re really focused on the strategic part,” Manfred said. “How is it that we respond to the changes in the local media environment in a way that increases our reach and fan access to our games? We’d like to get into a model where whether you’re a dinosaur cable person like I am or a digital person, there is a frictionless opportunity to watch the game that you want to watch.”

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