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MLB Writers Split on Covering 2021 Games In Person

Richard Deitsch asked writers about their comfortability with returning to stadiums.

Russ Heltman

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Life is slowly working its way back to normal as MLB Opening Day approaches this week. COVID-19 vaccinations are happening throughout the country, and stadiums are welcoming fans into their gates. The Texas Rangers are accepting a full-capacity crowd for their home opener Monday, April 5.

The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch gauged some of the publication’s writers on their comfortability with covering games in person this season.

Of the seven writers, five ranged from “somewhat comfortable” to “very” comfortable covering games in stadiums. New York Yankees reporter Lindsey Adler cited stadium design as a reason for her confidence: 

“Yankee Stadium is very large and airy, and the press box is open air. During spring training, I have been working from an auxiliary box in the stands. Honestly, I’d love to work from the stands for the rest of my career! Also, I will be fully vaccinated by Opening Day, which is the most important part to me.”

While some reporters like Adler are taking vaccinations into their own hands, Oakland A’s writer Alex Coffey still has some reservations about the requirements MLB and stadiums across the country are instituting.

“To be honest, I still don’t feel very comfortable,” Coffey said to Deitsch. “Media members don’t need to be vaccinated to cover games, and players don’t need to be vaccinated to play games.”

The 2021 MLB season gets rolling on Thursday, April 1. All 15 ballparks hosting Opening Day games will allow at least limited fan attendance.

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Dan Le Batard Breaks the News – NBC Has Contacted John Tesh About ‘Roundball Rock’

“We are actually talking right now about licensing it to them for the Olympics in Paris, which is always great.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Screengrab of John Tesh being interviewed by The Dan Le Batard Show
Screengrab: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

While everyone waits with bated breath for an announcement on the NBA media rights partnerships after next season, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz dug in on what has become an important topic amongst basketball fans. If NBC does in fact get its partnership back with the NBA, fans want to know if they plan to re-license the ‘Roundball Rock’ theme song they used for The NBA on NBC from 1990-2002.

Dan Le Batard welcomed the score’s composer, former CBS and NBS sportscaster John Tesh to the show and he confirmed he has spoken to NBC recently.

“Has NBC reached out to you about reviving ‘Roundball Rock’?” asked Le Batard.

“They have actually,” said Tesh. “Nothing firm, but they said, ‘Hey, can you stay frosty on this? … we’d love to talk to you about it.’ We are actually talking right now about licensing it to them for the Olympics in Paris, which is always great.”

Even bigger news came next when Test told the show, “We are actually going in at the end of June, we’re heading to Nashville, we have a full orchestra on hold and we’re going to re-record it. The recording, I think, still sounds great, but I wanted to make a few changes, maybe open up the middle.”

The show played the famous Saturday Night Live skit where Jason Sudeikis and Tim Robinson played the song for show host Vince Vaughn along with Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon.

As the guest appearance wrapped, Le Batard said, “…NBC is going to fix all the badwill it creates by ending Charles Barkley’s studio show but replacing it with the glorious remake of [‘Roundball Rock’]”

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Foul Territory Adds Two New Shows to Its Network

“We’re extremely excited to join Foul Territory’s fast-growing network.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Foul Territory Logo
Courtesy: Make Plays Media

Make Plays Media has announced that it is adding two new shows within its expanding Foul Territory Network, providing fans with more localized coverage pertaining to their favorite Major League Baseball teams. In addition to Dodgers Territory, which launched earlier in the regular season, the platform will introduce North Side Territory and Hammer Territory. The Foul Territory program debuted last March and features its signature program hosted by Scott Braun with a roster of former players who convey their perspectives of the game. These personalities include A.J. Pierzynski, Erik Kratz, Todd Frazier and Adam Jones among others. Moreover, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal frequently contributes to the show, which also contains guest appearances from active major-league players.

The North Side Territory program will focus on the Chicago Cubs and will be hosted by Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma, both of whom cover the team for The Athletic. The debut episode of the program has been released, beginning its cycle of releasing shows three times per week during the season.

“We’re extremely excited to join Foul Territory’s fast-growing network,” Mooney said in a statement. “We’ve enjoyed appearing on the main show and thought this platform would be great for a Chicago-centric, Cubs podcast. We appreciate the way that the Foul Territory crew covers the game with authenticity and authority, giving fans the type of information and perspective they want. With their help, we plan to do the same thing with North Side Territory, and amplify our work at The Athletic.”

“I’m so excited to serve passionate Cubs fans and get back to podcasting with my partner on the Cubs beat at The Athletic,” Sharma said in a statement. “To do so with Foul Territory, an exciting venture that has quickly established itself as an authority in this medium, is truly a great opportunity. We’re hoping North Side Territory becomes fans’ go-to podcast for all things Cubs.”

Earlier in the month, Foul Territory released the Hammer Territory podcast centered on the latest news and analysis surrounding the Atlanta Braves. The program debuted at No. 3 on the Spotify U.S. charts for all sports podcasts and first on the Chartable U.S. rankings on Apple’s podcasting platform. Members of the show include former SB Nation Battery Power professionals Brad Rowland, Scott Coleman, Stephen Tolbert and Shawn Coleman. New episodes are released four times per week across all podcasting distribution platforms.

“We are so excited and thankful to connect with the folks from Foul Territory and be part of the network,” Rowland said in a statement. “It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with Braves fans from all over the country and the globe, and the support has been tremendous. We look forward to a fruitful partnership for a long time.”

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Report: MLB Commissioner, Some Owners Discussing Potential of Nationalizing TV Rights

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward.”

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Major League Baseball
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

With uncertainty looming surrounding the future of Major League Baseball on regional sports networks, there is reportedly discussion taking place about nationalizing the television rights for the league. MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. and some owners around the league are discussing the possibility of nationalizing the league’s television rights, according to a new report from Evan Drellich of The Athletic. The conversation is reportedly borne out of concerns towards cord cutting, the situation surrounding RSNs and the augmenting presence of live sports in an environment with more reliance on streaming.

Some of the owners and executives within baseball, largely in the smaller markets, believe that the best way to bolster media revenues over time is by centralizing deal-making. This could result in selling all of the regular-season broadcasts for the 30 teams across the league within a singular streaming package. Conversely, those who attain larger profits are believed to be against the plan and do not want to forsake such power.

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward,” Manfred said in a statement to The Athletic. “Our course of action will be determined by the clubs, who are the ultimate decision makers under our constitution.”

Major League Baseball currently has national media deals with The Walt Disney Company, FOX Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery; however, the teams themselves have typically controlled a large portion of the inventory. The league office controls the out-of-market rights for the teams, which gives fans the ability to watch games from around the league using MLB.tv. Major League Baseball, along with the NBA and NHL, argued in court last week about the viability of Diamond Sports Group as it is entrenched in Ch. 11 bankruptcy and at a carriage impasse with Comcast.

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