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Tim Kurkjian: It Isn’t Fair To Blame Players For MLB Covid Outbreaks

“My guess is if we have another outbreak, that might be enough to say the schedule is too messed up, the integrity of the game is in question, but most important, the health and safety of all people around the game is in question.”

Ricky Keeler

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As the baseball season goes into its second full week, the presence of COVID-19 continues to make itself known. The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies will return to the field this week after a week off of games (Phillies had 2 false positive tests). However, the St. Louis Cardinals have not played since Wednesday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in their own organization. 

With several teams having to put their schedule on hold due to the pandemic, it has led people to believe the chances of a season being completed are falling. On Monday morning, ESPN baseball insider Tim Kurkjian was on The Jake Asman Show on SportsMap Radio and he mentioned he is not confident the season will be completed.

“The game is in turmoil and it should be given what it is up against, a pandemic like we have never seen before,” the ESPN writer said. “My guess is if we have another outbreak, that might be enough to say the schedule is too messed up, the integrity of the game is in question, but most important, the health and safety of all people around the game is in question. The commissioner does not want to make the decision, but he might not have a choice.”

On Friday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with ESPN’s Karl Ravech about what has gone in the game and Ravech got this response from Manfred: 

Some might be quick to solely blame players for their actions in causing games to not be played. However, Kurkjian said it is not fair to do that.

“We don’t know that much about this disease to say here’s what happened there. I think the bottom line is when this started, we were asking a bunch of young guys in their early 20’s to show discipline and restraint that maybe they have never shown in their whole life. That was a challenge to begin with and obviously some mistakes have been made, but to blame the players for this entirely, I’m just not sure that’s fair either.”

Over the weekend, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain and New Cain made a statement on Saturday while Cespedes did not show up to the ballpark and his agent reportedly did not tell the team until the middle of Sunday’s game.

“I think more and more players will get fearful of where this is going, but I don’t see a mass exodus,” Kurkjian told Asman.

Like many in the industry, Kurkjian, who has been covering baseball for 41 years, has had to adjust to calling games remotely while not being at the ballpark due to the pandemic. He mentioned it has been a weird season but adjustments have to be made in an unprecedented time.

“I have done games with Karl Ravech (in Connecticut), Eduardo Perez (in Florida), and I am in Maryland. It is so weird trying to call and analyze a Major League game when you are not at a Major League game. We are all flexible. We all understand this is how it works. These are extraordinary circumstances and everyone has to make an adjustment.”

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.

In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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