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Maria Taylor Talks About Realities Of ESPN Right Now

“Taylor did mention that there are protocols whenever she goes into the studio at ESPN where only 2 people can be in a conference room and there are 3 computers in between each person as people wear face shields, masks, and gloves.”

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Over the last couple of years, one person that has risen up in popularity in the sports media landscape is ESPN host and sideline reporter, Maria Taylor. This week, she was on the Bill Rhoden On Sports Podcast on the BLEAV Network with Bill Rhoden and Jamal Murphy to talk about her career and covering sports in what has been the new normal. 

During this interview, Taylor talked about what was happening as sports were shutting down and one of the unique programming ideas ESPN had to mesh the NBA and the Women’s Final Four before sports came to a halt back in March.

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster. It came to a screeching haul,” Taylor said. “We had just gotten through the NBA All-Star Game. I was heading home for a couple of days, then I was going to head to Bristol to host the NCAA Women’s Tournament up through the Final Four. We had plans to bring NBA Countdown to New Orleans. We all found out together there weren’t going to be any more games for a while.”

Taylor did mention that there are protocols whenever she goes into the studio at ESPN where only 2 people can be in a conference room and there are 3 computers in between each person as people wear face shields, masks, and gloves. As far as the new normal, there is one thing Taylor likes about it she hopes that will stick around.

“I think it kind of levels the playing field for storytelling. Everyone has access to everyone. I do like seeing athletes or the subjects of our stories in a home setting. It takes some of the glitz and glamour away from the formality and kind of breaks down that wall a little bit. I hope that continues moving forward.”

As a former collegiate athlete at the University of Georgia, Taylor knows first-hand what it means to be a student-athlete and one of the things she appreciates now is that student-athletes are finding their voice and speaking up on issues.

“The student athletes are realizing that their voices are so much bigger than the sport because they are the sport. Being on the sidelines for almost 10 years, its great to finally see that,” She said. “I’ve had so many conversations with players where they felt like their voices have been silenced. To be honest, it was the same way when I was in school. For once, it seems as though the power has been given to the people. It’s not just about whether or not they catch 5 passes for 100 yards, which is in itself pressure packed. They are trying to figure out how do I use my influence when I know this isn’t right on my campus?”

As Taylor continues to work at ESPN, she realizes how important her voice is when it comes to speaking on social injustice and how her speaking up helps people who can’t.

“I recognize the responsibility of if I don’t speak up in meetings or on TV, the production assistant in Bristol is not going to have the opportunities that they deserve. As black women, stop being humble. I’m good at my job. It’s almost like what are you going to do? If you fire me, people would be upset about it at this point. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m going to continue to excel, work hard, be a good teammate, make sure everyone feels good. You can’t feel any type of way about my opinion on how black people are treated because I am speaking the facts. I do believe you kind of ascend to that level of confidence.”

Throughout this interview, you will hear Taylor’s story of becoming a broadcaster and also the work she is doing with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote initiative.

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MLB Network Records 626,000 Viewers for Jackson Holliday Debut

The matchup was the second most-watched regular season game in MLB Network history.

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MLB Network Logo
MLB Network Logo – Courtesy: MLB Network

MLB Network served as the national television home for the debut of Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday, the top-ranked prospect in the minor leagues, as he took the field to face the Boston Red Sox. Although Holliday did not end up recording a hit in the game, there was considerable interest surrounding the game that translated into viewership. The matchup was the second most-watched regular season game in MLB Network history with an average of 626,000 viewers. The 20-year-old infielder recorded his first career RBI on a groundout en route to a 7-5 Orioles victory. John Ourand of Puck News was first to report the viewership figure, which was representative of an out-of-market measurement.

The presentation of the Orioles vs. Red Sox game came a day before the MLB Network Showcase broadcast from Fenway Park featuring the regular-season debut of play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian. Holliday did not collect a hit in this contest, but the game extended into extra innings where the Orioles scored six runs in the top of the 10th inning to secure a 9-4 victory. 

MLB Network will present a rematch of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Friday night when the Texas Rangers visit the Houston Astros from Minute Maid Park at 8 p.m. EST. Preceding that game broadcast will be the season premiere of Off Base at 4 p.m. EST, followed by Intentional Talk from 5 to 6 p.m. and MLB Tonight until the start of the game broadcast at 8 p.m. MLB Network will also premiere MLB Tonight: Clubhouse Edition, a non-traditional game telecast series entering its fourth season, on Jackie Robinson Day, Monday, April 15, when the Atlanta Braves face the Houston Astros at 8 p.m. EST.

For the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), the regional sports network that serves as the television home of both the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, Holliday’s debut drew an average of 114,000 viewers in the Baltimore designated market area. The metric is 27% higher than the average audience for MASN season-to-date. The team is returning home to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday night to begin a six-game homestand with matchups against the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins.

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Connor Onion to Make MLB Broadcasting Debut Saturday

“Just wanted to take some time to say thank you to some of you on here that have watched, listened and supported. Can’t wait to have some fun on Saturday. Hope you can come hang with me, AJ and Ken.”

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Photo of Connor Onion and a logo of MLB on FS1
Courtesy: Connon Onion X Account

Congratulations go out to Big Ten Network and ESPN broadcaster Connor Onion who will be making his MLB broadcasting debut on Saturday when he calls the Rangers-Astros game which will be carried by FS1 at 4 p.m. Onion posted a video announcing the assignment on his X account as he was walking through the airport to head to Houston.

“Good morning, I am off to Houston today,” he said. “Got an exciting opportunity to make my Major League Baseball broadcasting debut calling Rangers-Astros Saturday afternoon for FOX with AJ Pierzynski and Ken Rosenthal. This is obviously something I have been thinking about for a long, long time but wouldn’t have happened without so many people from my first job in Quad Cities to school at Ball State and Southern Illinois after that. So much help and so much support along the way. Just wanted to take some time to say thank you to some of you on here that have watched, listened and supported. Can’t wait to have some fun on Saturday. Hope you can come hang with me, AJ and Ken.”

Onion debuted for the Big 10 Network in 2021 and has called college football, basketball, baseball and volleyball for the network. He has also done college football, basketball and baseball for ESPN.

Many may recall the women’s volleyball match between Nebraska and Omaha which took place in front of over 92,000 at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium last August. Onion was on the call for that match and was profiled by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.

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NASCAR Xfinity Series Moves to CW Earlier Than Planned

“We can’t wait to give racing fans an early preview of all the exciting action the NASCAR Xfinity Series has to offer on The CW and we look forward to establishing the network as a new destination for live motorsports.”

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Graphic for the NASCAR XFinity broadcasts on the CW Network

NASCAR and the CW Network have announced the network will be the exclusive broadcast home for the final eight races of the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series this fall. Originally, the CW Network was not supposed to start airing the races until 2025.

Live coverage will now begin on Friday, September 20 with the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The series continues through the fall with the final seven Xfinity Playoff races of the season, culminating in the Xfinity Series Championship from Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 9.

All of the races will be produced by NBC Sports, with Rick Allen serving as lead race announcer alongside analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, and NBC Sports’ Vice President of Motorsports Jeff Behnke overseeing production.

“As The CW prepares to be the new broadcast home of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2025, we want to thank our partners at the league and at NBC Sports for welcoming the network into the NASCAR broadcast family and for the early opportunity to showcase these thrilling final eight Xfinity Series races of the season,” said Dennis Miller, President, The CW Network. “We can’t wait to give racing fans an early preview of all the exciting action the NASCAR Xfinity Series has to offer on The CW and we look forward to establishing the network as a new destination for live motorsports.”

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