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MLB Postseason Energizes Pedro Martínez, Curtis Granderson & Jimmy Rollins on TBS

“I’m looking forward to really seeing the different things that happen and getting some new experiences.”

Derek Futterman

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Pedro Martínez; Curtis Granderson; Jimmy Rollins
Courtesy: Warner Bros. Discovery

As postseason play in Major League Baseball continues, fans are gearing up for the start of the divisional series, which will help dwindle the playing field for teams with a chance to compete for a World Series championship. There is no dearth of young, dynamic talent within the four matchups, featuring superstars including Corbin Carroll, Yordan Álvarez and Adley Rutschman among others. All will aim to leave their mark as the battle for baseball prosperity begins on Saturday. Broadcasts of the divisional round will be split between FOX Sports (FOX/FS1) and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (TBS) with trusted insights, analysis and expertise from deft studio lineups with accomplished veterans, Hall of Famers and astute thinkers of the game.

Pedro Martínez has been working as an analyst for postseason coverage on TBS for the last decade and also contributes to MLB Network over the course of the year. The 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee is considered by many fans to be one of the greatest pitchers of the modern era, winning three Cy Young Awards and a World Series championship throughout his 18-year career.

In reviewing the postseason landscape, he feels that the play on the field will permeate through the studio walls and create new memories and experiences on the set. Specifically referencing Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.’s historic 2023 statline of 41 home runs and 73 stolen bases, he hopes for new records to be set as the “Fall Classic” approaches.

“Stuff like that, I’m expecting to see in the postseason,” Martínez said. “I’m looking forward to really seeing the different things that happen and getting some new experiences.”

When the network starts its coverage of the divisional series on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m. EST/2:30 p.m. PST, the earlier slate of American League games is expected to be at or near their conclusion. As a result, the studio team will have a binary responsibility of reacting to these matchups and preparing fans for the first game of a broadcast doubleheader. Once the games begin, the crew will gather in the green room to watch the action and prepare for their next live hit, eliciting informed opinions, apropos criticism and fruitful discussion.

“We’re excited and intrigued for Game 1 for both of our DS matchups,” said Curtis Granderson, MLB on TBS studio analyst and former MLB outfielder. “….Then when we’re sitting there watching the games together, just the number of conversations we have whether it’s baseball-related [or] non-baseball-related… plus the food that we will be enjoying because we will be there for an extended period of time. We’re going to definitely enjoy ourselves. It’s going to be like being at the ballpark.”

Granderson and Martínez will welcome former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the panel, which will provide firsthand perspective on what it is like to compete for a championship in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Rollins never thought he would work in sports media while he was playing, but his mindset began to change towards the latter stages of his career. Once he changed his mind, he flew to the network’s studios in Atlanta, Ga. to audition and has been on the air ever since. Rollins contributes to Warner Bros. Discovery Sports and NBC Sports Philadelphia, the latter for which he serves as a color commentator on select matchups.

“It’s completely different,” Rollins said of his broadcasting roles. “You’re in the moment when you’re calling games, but [for] the postgame and the pregame, you get to say what you think is going to happen, talk about pitchers making adjustments and really share your knowledge.”

From left to right (L-R): Curtis Granderson; Ernie Johnson; Jimmy Rollins; Pedro Martínez
Courtesy Warner Bros Discovery

All three studio analysts will be situated alongside Ernie Johnson, a venerable network studio host and Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee. Johnson has worked in the industry since 1979 and brings professionalism, poise and relatability to the air for every broadcast, as viewed by his colleagues. Martínez appreciates how Johnson makes his analysts feel comfortable and has their back if things go awry on the air.

“To me, it’s more of a privilege to be on his side than it is work,” Martínez said. “What I know about the game comes naturally, but the way he makes me feel when I’m about to say something about a certain situation [is] even better. If I mess up, I have Ernie to pick me up and the rest of the guys.”

Rollins is cognizant of the fact that Johnson engages in an immense amount of preparation before the program and makes suggestions to the producers throughout the program on how to improve the on-air product. Every time the camera turns on, he sees a sense of confidence wash over the host, which, in turn, grants his analysts the ability to do their jobs with added aplomb.

“I think when we first get out of baseball, we don’t want to go too hard on the guys because we don’t want to make the game seem easy because it’s not,” Rollins said. “I think we’ve seen that in a lot of places as former players given how difficult it is to play their respective sport. We have a guy like Ernie who has respect for the game, [and] you’ll never forget how difficult it is.”

Johnson is seamlessly able to “control the temperature of the stage,” according to Rollins, while also being able to effectively cover a story. The chemistry he exhibits with his on-air analysts and how he positions them for success, both on baseball coverage and on Inside the NBA, has rendered him adept at his job and a versatile industry professional.

“What you see is exactly what you get,” Granderson added, who played in the World Series as a member of the New York Mets in 2015. “Ernie is cool; he’s prepared; he’s smart [and a] historian all wrapped into one amazing package.”

This postseason, MLB on TBS will be implemented within the new B/R Sports Add-On within the Max streaming service. The new membership tier, which is being offered at no additional charge for existing subscribers through Thursday, Feb. 29, will grant users the ability to watch Warner Bros. Discovery presentations of live game broadcasts and other ancillary content. In targeting a younger demographic, the panel intends to blend tradition and innovation into their coverage and, in turn, augment the reach of the game at a global scale.

“It’s a great platform for us to teach what we know just like we do on TV, but with a younger audience,” Martínez said. “I’m so looking forward to finding a way to [have] conversations with a younger audience than the one we are accustomed to on television.”

Rule changes meant to hasten the pace of play and augment offensive output have had their intended effects, demonstrated through a 9.6% bump in attendance and 24-minute decrease in average game time. Aside from a more succinct on-field product, viewing alternate broadcasts across the sports media landscape indicate to other personalities that it is critical to amalgamate comprehensive esoterica with lighthearted banter and confabulation. The postseason is no exception.

“I think that’s what the younger audience really connects with,” Rollins said. “They understand sports goes on, but they like the cool things; they like the fun things…. We have the freedom to do things, but yet still, we have to stay on point.”

Warner Bros. Discovery’s broadcasts of the Major League Baseball postseason begin on Saturday night with MLB on TBS Leadoff at 5:30 p.m. EST/2:30 p.m. PST followed by the first of two NLDS matchups. The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves commence action in the “Senior Circuit” starting at 6 p.m. EST/3 p.m. PST with Brian Anderson, Jeff Francoeur and Matt Winer on the call. Later on, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers close out the first day of the round at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST with broadcasters Bob Costas, Ron Darling and Lauren Shehadi.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Game Averages 2.346 Million Viewers on FOX

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Logo
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals played from Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday night, marking the first time that the ballpark hosted a regular-season Major League Baseball game. The historic event paid tribute to the Negro Leagues and the life of Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays, who passed away peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 93. FOX Sports broadcast the game and attained its best performance for a Thursday night MLB regular season telecast since September 2022, averaging 2.346 million viewers for the event. Viewership data for the game is provided by Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics.

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST. Compared to last year’s regular season average for MLB telecasts on FOX, the contest was up 25%. Thursday night games on FOX averaged 1.665 million viewers last year, rendering the game from Rickwood Field an increase of 41%. The San Francisco, Calif. designated market area posted a 3.9 rating and 18 share for the game, the best for an MLB telecast on any network in the 2024 season in the area. Additionally, the St. Louis, Mo. designated market area had a 9.4 rating and 29 share for the game, also its best performance for an MLB telecast on any network amid the current season.

The broadcast of the game on FOX Sports featured play-by-play announcer Joe Davis, analyst John Smoltz and reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. During the FOX MLB pregame show, various special guests joined host Kevin Burkhardt and analysts Álex Rodríguez, David Ortiz and Derek Jeter, including Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Within the game, Rosenthal interviewed former Birmingham Black Barons pitcher Rev. Bill Greason, along with former Indianapolis Clowns second baseman Reggie Howard. FOX Sports broadcast half an inning of the game in black and white as well, replicating how baseball telecasts looked in 1954.

FOX Sports is currently in the third year of its seven-year media rights deal with Major League Baseball and will broadcast the MLB All-Star Game next month from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The network will also present the World Series for the 25th consecutive year this October featuring the American League and National League Champions.

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ESPN Announces Coverage Plans for Inaugural Two-Day NBA Draft

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

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Logo for ESPN and the 2024 NBA Draft

The NBA is set to debut a new format for its draft. Instead of doing both rounds in one night, this year will be the first time the league has used a two-day format with night one coming up on Wednesday, June 26 followed by night two on Thursday June 27. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN and ABC.

On Wednesday, ESPN will begin with NBA Today starting at 3 p.m. ET, which will be hosted by Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and CJ McCollum. They will be followed by a Red Carpet Special at 5 p.m. ET with Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson. Coverage of the draft begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

ESPN reporters and insiders Monica McNutt, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony are set to appear on both broadcasts.

For Round 2 on Thursday, ESPN will again start with NBA Today at 3 p.m. ET with Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and Tim Legler. That will be followed by coverage of the draft beginning at 4 p.m. ET with Malika Andrews, Stephen A. Smith, Bob Myers, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony.

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Michael Phelps Joining NBCUniversal Coverage of Olympic Games Paris 2024

“With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

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Michael Phelps
Courtesy: NBC Olympics & Paralympics on X

Michael Phelps, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist who is the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time, will be joining NBCUniversal for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 this summer. Phelps returns to the coverage after being part of the broadcast during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and will provide his commentary and analysis on prime time and daytime shows in Paris on NBC and Peacock.

Additionally, he will join Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines in the broadcast booth for select swimming competition telecasts from the París La Défense Arena, along with correspondent/analyst Elizabeth Beisel and reporter Melissa Stark. Phelps will return to NBC and Peacock on Friday night broadcasting coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials-Swimming from Indianapolis, Ind. beginning at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

“We are excited to have Michael return to our coverage across both daytime and primetime, and of course, the place where no one knows more about winning – at the pool,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

NBC has been televising coverage throughout the week live in prime time leading up to the Olympic games. The swimming trials are averaging 3.2 million viewers in prime time across NBC and Peacock, which is up 20% from the trials for the Olympic Games three years ago. The event is taking place from Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and has featured accomplished swimmers such as Katie Ledecky, Gretchen Walsh and Regan Smith. Moreover, the prime time broadcast of the diving competition on Monday and Tuesday from Knoxville, Tenn. is averaging 2.9 million viewers, a 39% rise from three years ago.

The International Olympic Committee granted NBCUniversal the U.S. media rights for the Olympic Games through 2032 for $7.65 billion. NBCUniversal has been the exclusive broadcast home of the Summer Olympic Games in the United States since 1988 when it produced 179.5 hours of broadcast coverage. The company is scheduled to broadcast the Olympic Games from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2026, Los Angeles, Calif. in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia in 2032, along with the 2030 Winter Olympic Games from a location to be determined.

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