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Detroit Pistons Broadcaster George Blaha To Miss Remainder of 2021-22 Season

Blaha, the voice of the Pistons since 1976, will undergo a heart bypass procedure. He’s expected to make a full recovery and return next season.

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The Detroit Pistons will finish their 2021-22 season without the longtime voice of the franchise calling their games.

George Blaha will miss the team’s remaining 14 games due to a heart bypass procedure that he’ll undergo on Tuesday (March 15). (With a record of 18-50, third-worst in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the Pistons will not be making the playoffs.) The issue requiring treatment was discovered during a routine check-up last week.

“I am disappointed to miss the remainder of the season, but my health is the number one priority right now and I have a great team of doctors guiding my short-term and long-term health,” Blaha said in a statement (via the Detroit Free Press).

“I’m grateful that they caught my issue early and they expect a full recovery. I look forward to getting back to full speed with rest and rehabilitation during the offseason and returning next year for my 47th season calling games for the Pistons.”

Blaha, soon to turn 77, has broadcast Pistons games since 1976 on both radio and TV. He has called over 3,200 regular-season and 260 playoff games for the franchise, chronicling three NBA championship teams (in 1989, 1990, and 2004), and the Hall of Fame careers of Bob Lanier, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, Grant Hill, Ben Wallace, and coach Chuck Daly.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to George. He’s one of the best in the business and he’s seen almost everything in the business, both college and the pros,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey before Sunday’s home game versus the Los Angeles Clippers. “We’re going to miss him the rest of the season, and my thoughts go out to him and his family.”

For generations of Detroit sports fans, Blaha is an iconic figure. It’s difficult to imagine watching or listening to a game without him welcoming fans to “another exciting night of NBA basketball” and one of his catchphrases including “Count that baby and a foul,” “Fires, fills it,” “Off the high glass,” “Throws up a rainbow gun, it goes,” and “Sweet string music.”

Also the play-by-play voice for Michigan State football on radio, Blaha was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

“George is part of our family and he and his wife, Mary, have our full support every step of the way,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores in a release. “George is in the best of care and in great spirits. We join his many fans, friends and colleagues in wishing him a full and speedy recovery.”

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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