ESPN Releases First Slate Of MLB Spring Training Games

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

January is officially at its end.  That means the countdown to Spring has officially begun.  Regardless of what the groundhog may or may not see, we’ve got six weeks until the official start of Spring.  It’ll be here before anyone knows it.  And what better way to help count down the days until Spring than the start of Major League Baseball’s 2013 Spring Training.  Spring Training kicks off on ESPN Monday, March 11th with a full slate of games.  All of the games slated for Monday March 11th are slated to start at 1pm EST throughout each market. The full slate of games is listed below.  Fans on the go can also see the games online via WatchESPN.

Date Time (ET) Game Commentators
Mon, Mar. 11 1 p.m. St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees Jon Sciambi, Doug Glanville, Jayson Stark
Mon, Mar. 18 1 p.m. Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Buster Olney
Tue, Mar. 19 1 p.m. New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Buster Olney
Wed, Mar. 20 1 p.m. Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees * Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Buster Olney
Mon, Mar. 25 1 p.m. Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Karl Ravech, Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville
Tue, Mar. 26 1 p.m. St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Karl Ravech, Aaron Boone, Rick Sutcliffe, Tim Kurkjian
Wed, Mar. 27 1 p.m. Philadelphia Phillies at Detroit Tigers Karl Ravech, Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville
Thu, Mar. 28 1 p.m. New York Mets at Washington Nationals Dave O’Brien, Aaron Boone, Rick Sutcliffe, Tim Kurkjian

This season will see one noticeable change for MLB fans.  ESPN will have a new Sunday Night Baseball announce team.  Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, and reporter Buster Olney will make their debut March 18th at the Phillies/Braves game.  All four will also call the March 19th Yankees/Phillies game and the March 20th game between the Red Sox and Yankees.  That game will be aired on ESPN2.

International audiences won’t be left out of the Spring Training games.  ESPN International will handle broadcasting duties in the Middle East/North Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Rim.  ESPN America will take broadcasts for Europe. 

Fans can get all the latest news from around the league as Spring Training leads to the regular season when they “Like” the ESPN Baseball Tonight Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Kids Debuting New Episode Of Curious George

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

PBS Kids debuts a brand new episode of Curious George next Monday, February, 4th.  The new episode includes two brand new shorts that teach some very valuable lessons about different kinds of safety.  The first of the two new shorts in Monday’s new episode teaches about pet care and pet safety in “Where’s The Firedog?”  The second of the new shorts couldn’t come at a better time as we enter the homestretch of Winter and the annual flu season.  “Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye” re-introduces the blues-singing germ, Toots.  It teaches young viewers about health safety and ways to keep from spreading germs and especially germs that can cause colds and the flu.

The first half of Monday’s new episodes introduces two brand new friends to George.  He meets Blaze the firehouse dog and his fellow probationary, Sam.  One of Sam’s tests to pass is to keep Blaze from running away, as that’s the biggest problem that Blaze has; he likes to run off, causing Sam to have to chase him.  Eventually it leads Blaze to be caught by the dogcatcher and sent to the local animal shelter.  This is where kids and parents can learn a valuable lesson together.  Sam and George pick up Blaze and in order to keep him from being caught again, they take him to the local pet shop to get a leash and his very own collar and dog tag.  The tag has Blaze’s name, Sam’s name and all the information to the firehouse including phone number.  This is a very important lesson to teach young viewers; especially young viewers who might be first time pet owners.  An equally valuable lesson taught is that some dogs do better with others.  In the end, it turns out that it was Blaze wanting to connect with another dog that was leading him to run out.  So instead of one dog, the firehouse welcomed two dogs.  And thanks to that, not only did Blaze stay at the firehouse, but Sam also become a full fledged firefighter.

In short, the first half of this episode teaches younger viewers the importance of being a responsible pet owner.  Pet owners have to keep track of their pets to keep their pets safe and keep them from being taken to a shelter.  The weather across the country will be turning warmer in the next couple of months.  So what better time than before the weather gets warm to teach potential new pet owners about being responsible and keeping their pets safe and keeping track of them?

The second half of Monday’s new episode is equally well timed, as the nation is coming down the home stretch of Winter and its associated flu season.  When the man in the yellow hate comes down with the flu, George tries to help him get better.  When George nearly eats from the same spoon that the man had just used, George learns about how germs spread and how to keep them from spreading.  Along the way, there’s a dream sequence that leads George to chase down an old foe named Toots.  Toots is a germ whose only goal is to make everyone sick.  George has to stop Toots from infecting everybody around the man.  Kids learn two very important ways to prevent the spread of germs in this short.  One is obvious.  The other one is more subtle.  The more obvious way in which George learns to keep germs from spreading is through washing his hands.  The other way is more subtle.  As the doctor comes to visit the man in the yellow hat, he sneezes.  Rather than sneezing into his hands, the man sneezes into his sleeve.  This is the more commonly used manner to keep germs from spreading if one doesn’t have a tissue immediately at hand.  As subtle as it is, this is in itself just as important for young viewers to learn, so that they can help prevent the spread of germs both at home and at school.

The lessons taught in both halves of Monday’s new episode teach some very important lessons to viewers.  They’re lessons that offer excellent opportunities for both parents and teachers to use as discussion points with children.  Given they cover different topics.  But there is one theme that runs through both episodes.  That central theme is responsibility.  Responsible pet ownership keeps pets safe.  And responsible personal hygiene care keeps a person and everyone around said person safe and healthy.  It makes for one more wonderful reason for kids and their parents and even teachers to sit down and check out Monday’s new episode of Curious George.  Viewers should check their local listings for exact air times for Monday’s new episode.  And to keep up with all the latest from Curious George and other PBS Kids shows, parents and kids can “Like” the PBS Kids Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PBSKIDS.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Offers Another Full Day Of Superbowl Coverage Thursday

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Today is Thursday January, 31st.  For most people it’s just another day.  For the legions of football fans out there, it means something entirely different.  It means that we are one day closer to the biggest sports day of the year in the form of the Superbowl.  In celebration of the big day, ESPN continues its week long coverage of the preparations live from New Orleans.  This morning’s coverage starts off once again with Mike and Mike in the Morning from 6-10am/5-9am CT.  On this morning’s show, Greenie and Golic have a full slate of guests and analysts joining them.  Among the slated guests are:  Packers Wide Receiver Donald Driver, Giants Wide Receiver Victor Cruz, Texans Defensive End J.J. Watt, former Patriots Offensive Tackle Matt Light, Vikings star Running Back Adrian Peterson, Cowboys Offensive Linebacker DeMarcus Ware, and Giants Defensive End Justin Tuck.  ESPN analyst Cris Carter will also join the guys this morning.  Fans can check it all out on their local ESPN Radio affiliate and on TV on ESPN2.

ESPN’s own Hannah Storm takes over at 9/8 CT on Sports Center.  She’ll be joined by analysts Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Jerry Rice as well as a full slate of guests.  Things don’t end here.  There’s a full day of Superbowl coverage across the ESPN family of networks.  From coverage on SportsNation, NFL Live, and SVP and Rusillo, NFL’s fans have plenty to check out today across the ESPN family of networks.  To check out all the latest on today’s coverage and more, fans can go online to http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and http://www.espn.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Holy Grail Releases 2013’s First Great Metal Record

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

It is official.  The California based quintet that is Holy Grail has released in its second full length album, the very first great metal album of 2013.  The band’s new album bridges the divide of old school metal along the lines of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest with more recent bands the likes of Fozzy,  Avenged Sevenfold, and of course itself.  This album has elements of power metal, death metal, and old school speed metal without losing a single step along the way.  The album starts off with that old school style in the semi-instrumental, ‘Archeus.’  This leads without hesitation instantly into the equally impressive old school style sound of ‘Bestia Triumphans.’  The dual guitar attack of Eli Santana and Alex Lee mixed with the absolutely powerhouse vocals of singer James-Paul Luna make this song a welcome re-introduction for fans who came on board with the band’s 2010 debut, Crisis in Utopia, and an equally impressive first time introduction for fans who are new to the band’s work.  Luna’s vocals are just as brutal as the song hits its final moments and he launches into traditionally guttural growling.

The band barely lets up—if at all—after the album’s first full introduction on this album as it proceeds into the album’s next song, ‘Dark Passenger.’  This song, too leans more in the old school speed metal style.  Both Santana and Lee are expert at their craft alongside drummer Tyler Meahl and bassist Blake Mount.  Meal and Mount work seamlessly together adding a solid backing to the song.  Meal’s chops are some of the best of any modern metal drummer out there today as he shows not just in this song, but throughout the course of the album’s thirteen tracks as does the rest of the band.  That’s especially evident in songs the likes of ‘Too Decayed to Wait’, ‘Great Artifice’ and the equally solid closer that is ‘Rains of Sorrow’ just to name a few more.  To go through every song on this album would take far too long and would be far too wordy.  Needless to say that whether for its old school shots or its more modern material, this album has something for every member of the metal nation regardless of age.  It is simply put a great way for any true metal purist to start the New Year.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Prosthetic Records online store at http://www.indiemerch.com/prostheticrecords/item/17089

Fans can also check out the band live as it tours in support of its new album across the country.  The band will be in Miami, Florida this Friday.  Fans in North Carolina will also get their chance to see the band when it makes a stop at Charlotte’s Tremont Music Hall along with Exodus, Anthrax, and Municipal Waste.  That tour stop is part of the Metal Alliance Tour.  To get a full rundown of the band’s tour dates and all of the latest news from the band, fans can go online to http://www.facebook.com/holygrailofficial, http://www.holygrailofficial, http://www.myspace.com/holygrailofficial, and http://twitter.com/holygrailband.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Crystal, Midler As Funny As Ever In Parental Guidance

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Billy Crystal’s latest starring vehicle is everything that many critics have already written and noted of it.  It is schmaltzy.  It is sappy.  And to say that one might feel uncomfortable throughout the course of this nearly two hour movie is an understatement.  But considering the writing that harkens back to Uncle Buck (1989), Cheaper By The Dozen (2003) and even Meet The Parents (2000), the movie still manages to succeed thanks to the chemistry of lead actors Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.  It’s the chemistry between the two that keeps the movie afloat.  The experience of the pair together helps to support the other, thus validating everything going on around them.  Had they been paired with another actor, things might not have gone as well as they did.  Thankfully, viewers don’t have to wonder how the movie would have turned out had the situation been any different.

Both Crystal and Midler show their veteran acting chops, bouncing their comic prowess off of the somewhat younger Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott.  While some of the antics that happen between Diane (Midler), Artie (Crystal) and the kids are somewhat outrageous, there is at least a certain modicum of truth here as to what happens with so many families in similar circumstances.  As children become the adults, a rift of sorts develops between them and their parents because of philosophical differences on raising children and living life in general.  Every parent would love to think that their child(ren) would grow up to live life like them.  But the reality is that parents and their adult children are different from one another.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t both have something to learn from the other even as adults.  That’s the basis of the story.  Both Artie and Alice are stuck in their ways, and neither wants to budge, thus leading to the story that is both comical and heartwarming enough to keep viewers engaged from start to finish, despite the constant uncomfortable feeling some might have from watching the interaction of the movie’s lead cast.

Now that the movie has been release on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack, audiences get even more enjoyment out of it thanks in large part to its audio commentary.  Crystal–who both acted in and produced the movie–joins director Andy Fickman in discussing everything that went into bringing the movie to life.  The movie is more enjoyable in learning that it was lifted almost directly from a personal experience in Crystal’s own life.  There are also little tidbits such as why Crystal chose to have his character wear a certain kind of hat early on in the movie to the storms that would constantly delay the movie and more.  It’s yet more proof of the value of bonus features and audio commentary in a movie’s home release.  it’s one more reason to check out this family friendly comedy at least once.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Wednesday Superbowl Live Coverage Announced

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s countdown to the Superbowl continues Wednesday with even more coverage live from New Orleans.  Mike and Mike start things off once again from 6-10am EST/5-9am CT.  The guys welcome a load of new guests on this pre-Superbowl hump day starting with former Dallas Cowboy/Fox analyst Daryl Johnston at 6:30/5:30 CT.  Rising star and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will join the guys next at 8/7 CT.  Also joining the show live will be NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz at 8:15/7:15 CT.  The show’s last hour and a half will see former Ravens coach and FOX analyst Brian Billick, ESPN analysts Cris Carter and Mark Schlereth and former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum.  Audiences that can’t be there in person can tune in live on their local ESPN Radio affiliate and on TV on ESPN2.

Hannah Storm takes over at 9/8 CT on SportsCenter.  She’ll be joined by analysts Ron Jaworski, Merril Hoge, and Jerry Rice.  Guests scheduled for the show Wednesday include:  retired Cowboys Fullback Daryl Johnston, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, and the Saints’ very own Drew Breese.  That’s all from 9/8 CT – 3/2 CT on ESPN.

Colin Cowherd will take audiences into the afternoon hours on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.  Colin will be on the air from 10am/9am CT – 1pm/12pm CT.  Drew Breese will be making his way to Colin’s show for those that missed him on SportsCenter as will Colts Kicker Adam Vinatieri.  Also joining the lineup will be ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer.  Fans can check it all out on their local ESPN Radio affiliate and onTV on ESPNU.

The next three hours will be taken over by SVP and Rusillo.  Scott and Ryen welcome Steelers Defensive End Brett Keisel, Ron Jaworski, Jacksonville Jaguars Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew, and Giants Offensive Linesman David Diehl.  Fans can catch all the action live from 1/12 CT – 4/3 CT on ESPN Radio affiliates across the nation and on TV on ESPNNEWS.  It’s just one option that fans have in the early hours of the afternoon.  Fans can also tune in to ESPN from 3/2 CT – 4/3 CT for a SportsCenter special presented by Little Caesars pizza hosted by Mike Tirico.  Mike will be joined by analysts Trent Dilfer, Herm Edwards and Tom Jackson.

Next up as the afternoon passes is NFL Live from 4/3 CT – 5/4 CT on ESPN.  Host Trey Wingo will be joined by analysts Ron Jaworski and Mark Shclereth as the trio talks up Sunday’s big game.  Also from 4/3 CT – 5/4 CT is SportsNation on ESPN2.  Hosts Charissa Thompson and Marcellus Wiley welcome guests Greg McElroy (NY Jets QB) and NY Giants Tight End David Diehl.  Analyst Herm Edwards will also join the days’ lineup.

As the sun starts to set for the day, the action doesn’t let up on the ESPN family of networks.  Hosts Suzy Kolber and Chris Mortensen will be joined by analysts Trent Dilfer and Tom Jackson on ESPN2 on NFL 32 from 5/4 CT – 6/5 CT.  That is followed by another edition of SportsCenter from 6/5 CT – 7/6 CT on ESPN.  Hispanic audiences will also get a dose of football week frenzy with an NFL Semanal Special from 8/7 CT – 9/8 CT on ESPN Dos.  It will also air at 9:30/8:30 CT and 12am/11pm CT on Latin North.

Rounding out the day’s coverage is one more edition of SportsCenter on ESPN from 9/8 CT – 12am/11pm CT.  Host Stuart Scott will be joined by analysts Cris Carter and Tedy Bruschi.

It all starts again Thursday morning with another new edition of Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio and on TV on ESPN.  Fans are encouraged to come and join ESPN’s hosts as each show will be open for public viewing.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Barber’s Concord Debut Not Your Standard Jazz Record

Courtesy:  Concord Jazz

Courtesy: Concord Jazz

Patricia Barber’s Concord Jazz debut, Smash, is a good first effort for Barber on her latest outing.  Barber already has a long list of releases under her belt.  This album though takes listeners on quite the journey.  It’s not what one might expect when one thinks of the concept of a jazz album.  It is very much a progressive jazz album, as evidenced through the likes of the jazz fusion style of ‘Devil’s Food’, the album’s title track and its opener, ‘Code Cool.’  Musically speaking, the album’s title track sounds more akin to a Pink Floyd song than any jazz piece.  Lyrically though, it shows a certain something about it as she writes about someone suffering from a broken heart.  Her comments about the song really wrap the whole song together.  “It just struck me as it does everyone else who experiences great loss, that on the outside, no one can tell”, she explains.  “You go to the grocery store, and everything’s the same, which is shocking.  It struck me that this is the sound of a heart breaking: silence.  You’re alone.  And I felt that this was an interesting juxtaposition, since the sound of a heart breaking should be the loudest, screamiest, shriekiest combination of sounds there could be.”  Understanding this, it gives the song and even its name, ‘Smash’ more significance.  Considering how many oh-woe-is-me style songs of lost love abound in today’s music industry, it’s nice believe it or not to have such a realistic song that touches on the subject.  It proves to be one of the album’s best songs believe it or not.

Another one of the more interesting songs on Barber’s new album is the song, ‘Devil’s Food.’  It’s another prime example of what makes this album so interesting both in its musical side and that of its lyrical side.  Musically, it bears more of an old school jazz/funk style than something more modern.  Some audiences might even notice the homage paid by guitarist John Kregor to a certain classic funk song.  Audiences can find that out what that reference is for themselves when they pick up the album.  Considering the musical throwback on this song, its lyrical side is a total juxtaposition.  The song, as noted by Barber, is a commentary on what was one of 2012’s biggest debates in the legalization of gay marriage.  Who would have ever thought that a jazz artist would use her art to comment on such a hard hitting social and political topic?  Yet again, this isn’t exactly what one would expect when one thinks of jazz musicians, even today.  Once again, Barber has taken the road not just less traveled, but far less traveled.  Once again she has crafted a song that as part of a whole makes her new album that much more intriguing to experience.

Just as intriguing as the already mentioned pieces from this standout album is the album’s opener, ‘Code Cool.’  This song is equally ear opening (yes, ear opening) both musically and lyrically.  Musically, it’s the sort of song to which fans of Diana Krall will gravitate.  Lyrically, it tends to be somewhat cryptic in its writing.  Barber writes in this song, “I square dance slow/make love with my lips/read eyes like books/read books like science/I remember and fix/citation to case/case to form/discombobulation and I/can cook up a storm/I’m Michelangelo’s David/tested and worn.”  It’s anyone’s guess as to what she could be referencing here.  But that it can generate just as much discussion as the album’s other tracks (including the science-centric ‘Red Shift’) make one more point to which listeners can say this album is worth at least one listen.

Fans will get their chance to hear these songs and plenty more as Barber is currently touring in support of her new album.  She will be performing in Boston, MA tomorrow night.  She’s following tomorrow’s performance with a two night stand at New York’s Jazz Standard.  Even more dates are already scheduled.  To find out when and where Barber will be performing and to keep up with all the latest news from her, audiences can go online to http://www.patriciabarber.com, http://www.facebook.com/PatriciabarberMusic, http://twitter.com/pbjazzmusician, and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/PatriciaBarberJazz.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/ 381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.