A judge has made his ruling has been reached in the caustic bankruptcy trial between Major League Baseball and Diamond Sports Group. Diamond Sports Group must pay the full value of the contracts with the four teams that are involved in the legal proceedings. These teams include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers.
There was an additional caveat to the final ruling. The judge urged both sides to talk to one another, perhaps realizing the level of contemptuousness evident throughout testimony from both sides in the trial.
“Maybe market forces change terms of deals, but market risk is always there [and] inherent in every contract,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez said in his ruling. “Knowing that I think the contract rate is the reasonable and the right rate, the way that teams are locked in [and] the evidence that’s presented before me, I’m going to find that the fees are the actual necessary cost of preserving the state. The teams can keep the 75% I believe they’ve already received and they should get the [other] 25%.”
Diamond Sports Group now has a decision to make regarding if it will oblige by the ruling and pay the four teams as directed. If not, they will be forced to relinquish the broadcast rights for those teams, just as the entity did for the San Diego Padres earlier this week.
Sources close to the situation have indicated that this represented somewhat of a breaking point between the two sides, and that the hostility will be too much to overcome for future deals. Diamond Sports Group is tasked with renewing rights for 28 teams across the NBA and NHL at the conclusion of next season, in addition to five Major League Baseball teams.
“MLB appreciates the ruling from the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Houston requiring Diamond to pay the full contractual rate to Clubs,” the league said in a statement. “As always, we hope Diamond will continue to broadcast games and meet its contractual obligations to Clubs. As with the Padres, MLB will stand ready to make games available to fans if Diamond fails to meet its obligations.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. described a meeting he had with Diamond Sports Group’s management where the company threatened bankruptcy – despite having money in liquidity to pay the rights fees – in order to restructure itself and selectively reject contracts. He also divulged that the league will cover at least 80% of the payments the afflicted teams were supposed to receive from Diamond Sports Group, which operates as a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group. Major League Baseball says it is ready to take over production and dissemination of local broadcasts and prepared for this move in advance by strengthening its media division, including the hire of Billy Chambers as executive vice president of local media.
While Diamond Sports Group is technically a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the role of the latter has been diminished because of the former’s declaration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Creditors agreed to trade the debt they owe for equity in Sinclair Broadcast Group, rendering the management structure somewhat ambiguous. The company’s decision to engage in bankruptcy protection will aid in eliminating $8 billion of outstanding debt after Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired the regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Company in 2019 for $10.6 billion. Major League Baseball, in partnership with Liberty Media, bid nearly $9.6 billion for the networks ($3.5 billion in leverage), but ended up falling short. Diamond Sports Group has local broadcast rights for 28 teams across the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, with all of those deals – along with five among Major League Baseball teams – set to expire at the conclusion of next season.
FOX Sports Adds Adam Wainwright to ALDS Crew
The 42-year-old just completed his 18th season with the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright isn’t riding off into the sunset after calling it a career on Sunday. Instead, he’s joining FOX Sports.
In an appearance on Foul Territory with AJ Pierzynski on Monday, Wainwright casually let slip that he would be joining Pierzynski on an upcoming broadcast. After realizing that they were clear to talk about it, Wainwright announced that he would be a part of FOX’s ALDS broadcast team.
Specifically, Wainwright will join Pierzynski and Adam Amin as the crew covering the series between the defending World Series champion Houston Astros and the winner of the Blue Jays/Twins wild card series.
“Congratulations, welcome to the broadcasting world, and congratulations you get to work with me…again,” Pierzynski said, alluding to the brief stint the two had calling postseason baseball in 2020 with FOX Sports.
“That’s really all I wanted as a retirement gift was to spend more time with you AJ,” Wainwright joked. “That was what I wanted.”
Wainwright felt like he, AJ and Amin will have a great time calling those games together based on their previous experience.
“I’m looking forward to it though,” Wainwright said. “I have fun watching baseball games. I felt like you and I were a good team a couple of years ago so we need to run that back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Space City Home Network to Debut in Houston Tuesday
The rebranded regional sports network has been acquired by the Houston Astros and the Houston Rockets from Warner Bros. Discovery.
Space City Home Network, previously known as AT&T SportsNet Southwest, will debut in Houston Tuesday.
The rebranded regional sports network has been acquired by the Houston Astros and the Houston Rockets from Warner Bros. Discovery, with the two professional sports teams joining forces to form their own cable outlet. Both the Rockets and Astros have long held an interest in acquiring the network. A report from March of this year claimed the two franchises were working alongside WBD to gain control of the cable channel.
“The change will be a seamless transition for fans as they will be able to continue to access Rockets and Astros games on the same channels they currently utilize,” the Astros said in a statement. “The network will be owned by the Rockets and Astros going forward and will operate as a joint venture of the two organizations.”
“We’ve had a strong relationship with the talent and staff at AT&T SportsNet in broadcasting Rockets games over the years and are excited to have that live on as Space City Home Network,” said Rockets President of Business Operations Gretchen Sheirr. “We’ve worked alongside the Astros and network personnel to ensure this will be a smooth changeover for our fans and look forward to the positive impact this collaboration and local ownership will have on our broadcast.”
The first live game broadcast will take place on Wednesday, October 10th, as the Rockets will open their preseason schedule against the Indiana Pacers. The Houston Astros will make their debut on the network in 2024.
Space City Home Network launches just days before the Astros begin their quest to win back-to-back World Series championships. The Astros will face the winner of the Minnesota Twins/Toronto Blue Jays series in the American League Divisional Series later this month.
NBC Adding Jordan Cornette, Zora Stephenson, Noah Eagle to Big Ten Basketball Coverage
Peacock will exclusively carry up to 47 men’s basketball games and 30 women’s basketball games, varying between conference and non-conference matchups.
Last week, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that Robbie Hummel would be leaving ESPN to contribute analysis on NBC Sports and FOX Sports’ coverage of Big Ten basketball. The Post now reports that he will be joined by several other established sports media personalities as the property reorganizes.
Jordan Cornette, a former college basketball analyst with ESPN and the ACC Network, will be joining NBC Sports as a studio analyst for Big Ten men’s basketball games. Cornette was laid off by ESPN as part of its round of talent cuts earlier this summer after spending almost five years with the network.
Additionally, he hosted an ESPN Radio program alongside his wife, ESPN host and reporter Shae Peppler Cornette.
Zora Stephenson will serve as the lead play-by-play announcer on Peacock, expanding her role with NBC Sports. She has previously been on the call for Milwaukee Bucks games and currently serves as the sideline reporter for the network’s presentation of Notre Dame football. Stephenson played collegiate basketball at Elon University.
Lastly, Noah Eagle will retain his role as the lead play-by-play announcer on Big Ten coverage, joining the basketball package throughout the season. Eagle currently serves as the voice of B1G Saturday Night and will also be calling several Brooklyn Nets games on YES Network throughout the season. Eagle, 25, is largely thought of as a rising star in the media industry, and his father, Ian, is set to become the new lead voice of the Final Four for CBS and TBS.
As part of the deal, Peacock will exclusively carry up to 47 men’s basketball games and 30 women’s basketball games, varying between conference and non-conference matchups. NBCUniversal reportedly pays the conference $350 million per year for broadcast rights, which includes a presentation of the Big Ten Football Championship Game in 2026.