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Is ESPN Planning a Bigger Role For Mendoza?

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The past six weeks have transformed Jessica Mendoza from someone largely regarded as a softball analyst to one of the lead baseball voices at ESPN. She has performed so well in place of Curt Schilling on Sunday night games and during the Houston Astros’ 3-0 victory over the Yankees in the American League wild-card playoff game Tuesday night that ESPN has no option but to give her a high-profile slot.

“Six weeks? No, it’s hasn’t been that long,” she said on Wednesday in a telephone interview. “It’s felt like one long day because I never wanted it to stop. I never wanted to let off the gas.”

On Tuesday night, she showed her primary expertise in batting analysis, most notably on how the Astros’ George Springer was able to hit a double over Brett Gardner’s head: by standing far back in the batter’s box to react to Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter. But she also did good — and quick — work on pitch selection and outfield positioning.

“I find that as far as my first step in, I talk to hitters, coaches and managers, and that’s the insight I want to share with viewers,” she said. “I’m hoping to build up to defensive strategy and pitching.”

What she will do in 2016 will probably depend, in part, on whether Schilling has a future at ESPN — on Sunday night games or anywhere. He was initially suspended by the network for sharing a Twitter meme about Muslim extremists that featured a photograph of Adolf Hitler. His short punishment was then extended because of an angry response he emailed to an article on the website Awful Announcing about his activities on social media. His first day back was Wednesday, when he worked from an ESPN studio at the company’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

Mendoza said she traded texts about pitching with Schilling after Tuesday night’s game.

“He’s someone I’ve known a while and respect his knowledge, so we went back and forth about Tanaka” and Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, she said.

So far, Mendoza has not heard from ESPN officials about what she will do next season. “And I haven’t even asked,” she said. “I’m as curious as anyone. I’m hooked. This is something I want to do more of.”

And she will. John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and production, lauded her in a way that offered little doubt about the company’s intentions.

“You can expect that she has earned and will have a prominent role in our baseball coverage,” Wildhack said. “Her knowledge of the game is comparable to any baseball expert out there, and her knowledge of hitting might be the best of any analyst out there.”

He added, “She deserves all the credit for displaying her talents, and it’s awesome that she got to do it on a big stage last night at Yankee Stadium.”

Translation: Expect her to replace Schilling. It will be a smart and progressive move.

To read more visit the NY Times where this story was originally published

 

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XFL Signs Exclusive Deal With ESPN

“Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.”

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All 43 games in the 2023 XFL season will air on Disney’s sports networks. The entire schedule will be seen on ABC, ESPN, and FX. Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia made the announcement at the 2022 Disney Upfront presentation.

This will be the third iteration of the XFL. The first attempt in 2001 ended after a single season. The 2020 revival was shut down due to Covid. Johnson and Garcia and their partners purchased the brand two years ago for $15 million.

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said in a press release. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.

“The XFL is going to be a league of passion, a league of pride, and a league of culture,” Johnson said at the event, promising that those three principles will drive every decision for the league.

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NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs

“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”

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More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.

The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.

At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.

With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.

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Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL

“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

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The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.

Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.

Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.

“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.

“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.

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