In the media industry, sometimes you just never know where your big break is going to come from. For current FOX Sports MLB analyst Ben Verlander, it was Twitch that helped him gain his big break in the business.
Verlander, who is the younger brother of Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, played in the Detroit Tigers organization for four years (2014-2017). While in the minor leagues, his love of playing video games would eventually lead to helping him in a future career.
This week, Verlander was on the Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre podcast and told the story of how playing MLB The Show led to the career he has right now.
“When I played baseball, we played 140 games in 150 days. The only way you get through it is a schedule. I’m at the field from noon-11 PM, midnight. You can’t just go home after playing a 9-inning game and go to sleep. What I would find myself doing is going home, sitting on my couch, playing video games for a couple of hours before I went to bed, so I got really good at The Show.”
Ben Verlander says that he was better at baseball video games than he was at actual baseball. As the Covid-19 pandemic began in the US, and it became clear there would be no minor league season, a roommate suggested Verlander put his gaming on Twitch.
“I started doing it and immediately loved it and started building this community of people that clearly cares about me, about what I have to say, and it just becomes this community of people. Still to this day, I try to stream every weekday. I truly believe being on Twitch helped me,” replied Verlander.
Being on Twitch led to Verlander eventually getting a chance to meet the Vice President of Digital Content for FOX, Michael Bucklin. That meeting led to a World Series party that Verlander hosted.
“I’m on a camera, I have 20,50,100,500 people watching me, asking questions. I’m talking back to them. I’m entertaining them and I truly believed that helped me,” said Verlander about Twitch helping him get to where he is today.
This past week, Verlander was in Colorado for the MLB All-Star Game and he even got to interview Shohei Ohtani.
Verlander’s path to go from minor league baseball to now working as an analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the Flippin’ Bats podcast shows you never know where your big break is going to come from. Even streaming yourself playing video games can lead to something great.
Gus Johnson: Aqib Talib Has A Very Bright Future In TV
“The duo joined the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast on The Athletic this week.”
This Sunday, FOX will unveil a new broadcast team as Gus Johnson and 12-year NFL veteran cornerback Aqib Talib will be on the call for the Vikings-Cardinals matchup.
Calling games isn’t new for Talib. He was in the booth for two games last season, and he was part of the Los Angeles Rams’ preseason television crew. However, he has never done a game with Johnson, who fans are excited to hear on NFL games again.
The duo joined the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast on The Athletic this week. Johnson is very high on Talib’s future in the business.
“Aqib had called games last year and we talked about me calling some games and it kind of just fell into place,” the excitable play-by-play man said. “It was kind of the perfect situation for us to work together because we feel really confident and strong about Aqib’s talent. We think he has a very, very bright future as a broadcaster. They wanted to put him with someone who had a little experience and I was excited about getting back in the NFL. The way I like to say it, it was perfect…It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Talib mentioned that he has an eight-game schedule at FOX this season. He will call Cardinals-Jaguars in Week 3 and Lions-Bears in Week 4 with Johnson.
“I thought we sounded good. I’m a people person, so I will vibe with just about anybody you put me with,” Talib said of his partner. “When I was with Gus, Gus has a way with making me more comfortable. When we did the practice game, I just felt more comfortable sitting there. After hanging out with Gus, I can tell you right now I will feel a lot more comfortable than any other booth I have sat in because we are building a relationship.”
When viewers hear Talib call games, they are getting more of the defensive perspective as opposed to hearing an analyst that is a quarterback. Johnson is drawn to Talib’s authenticity and insinuated that he may be a little jealous of the broadcast industry the former defensive back is starting in versus the one Johnson himself walked into.
“I’ve heard Aqib do games and yes he does sound different and that’s a good thing because nobody’s made up the same way. It’s a different sound from what we are accustomed to hearing, but I think it is a great sound and I think the sound is going to continue to improve as he does this more. The world is changing, that’s what I realize. I’m 54 years old, I look at the world and I see how people react to authenticity and it is kind of refreshing. I came in at a time where there was kind of a standard sound. This is going to be fun.”
With Johnson’s enthusiasm that for calling games and Talib’s different perspective on the game, this should make for a fun broadcast duo.
Boomer Esiason: No Coach Wants To Be On In-Season Hard Knocks
“This is like the NFL jamming it down somebody’s throat, and I’m sure their owner out there obviously had to give the blessing for it or it’s not going to happen.”
During last night’s electrifying matchup between the New York Giants and Washington Football Team, the National Football League announced that HBO’s Hard Knocks will be producing its first ever in-season episodes centered on the Indianapolis Colts. In a statement released by the National Football League, excitement was communicated about this new opportunity to expand the show’s coverage of the action on- and off-the-gridiron.
“We could not be more thrilled to bring ‘Hard Knocks’ and the remarkable behind-the-scenes access it provides for an entirety of an N.F.L. season,” said N.F.L. Films senior executive Ross Ketover. “Thanks to HBO, along with the incredible cooperation from the Colts, we are able to deliver a groundbreaking new edition of the series.”
That excitement was not as much shared on a cloudy, damp Friday morning in New York City following a devastating loss by the Giants. Following their critiques of Daniel Jones, head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Boomer & Gio took some time on WFAN to speak about the implications this announcement will surely have on different stakeholders across the league.
“There’s no coach in the NFL that wants this,” said Boomer Esiason, former NFL MVP. “This is like the NFL jamming it down somebody’s throat, and I’m sure their owner out there obviously had to give the blessing for it or it’s not going to happen.”
Hard Knocks followed the Dallas Cowboys during training camp and the preseason this year after finishing third in the NFC East division in 2020, which included losing star quarterback Dak Prescott to an ankle injury. Esiason continued in his analysis on the ramifications of the momentous announcement, which divulged that multiple new episodes of the nearly 20-year series would begin premiering on Nov. 17.
“The head of the union should be fired if the HBO sponsorship money is not a part of the salary cap negotiation,” said Esiason. “I’m sure that it is; I’m assuming that it is.”
Hard Knocks Launching In-Season Edition In November
“Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts will debut on November 17.”
The Indianapolis Colts are making their first appearance on Hard Knocks and we won’t have to wait until next summer to see it. The team will be at the center of the first ever in season edition of the HBO docuseries.
Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts will debut on November 17. Fans will get to follow the team in real time as they push towards the end of the regular season. New episodes drop every Wednesday in HBO and HBO Max through the end of the team’s season.
“We could not be more thrilled to bring Hard Knocks and the remarkable behind-the-scenes access it provides for the entirety of an NFL season,” Ross Ketover, NFL Films Senior Executive said in a press release. “Thanks to HBO, along with the incredible cooperation from the Colts, we are able to deliver a groundbreaking new edition of the series.”
The announcement was made during the halftime show of Thursday Night Football this week. The Colts dropped a hype video on the team’s official Twitter page immediately after.