ESPN Networks Announce Changes For 2014 MLB Season

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN kicks off its 25th season covering Major League Baseball today. In celebration of the anniversary, ESPN has announced a number of changes and additions to its coverage. The very first of those changes and additions is a rebranding of its flagship program, Sunday Night Baseball. Sunday Night Baseball has been rebranded as Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown. The name change has been implemented in order to better coincide with ESPN’s weekly national game of the week. Karl Ravech will continue to anchor the broadcast. And MLB Hall of Famer/analyst Barry Larkin will join Ravech for most episodes.

The rebranding of Sunday Night Baseball is just the tip of the iceberg for the changes being made to ESPN’s MLB coverage in its 25th season. Along with the rebranding of the network’s flagship show, several episodes of Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown will be broadcast live on-site from key locations near select games throughout the season. The live broadcasts will allow fans to show their pride live on television and viewers to get a taste of the live Baseball Tonight atmosphere. It all begins opening night from PetCo Park in San Diego at 6:30pm.

The new live, on-site broadcasts of Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown are the cornerstone of ESPN’s re-branded broadcasts for its 25th season of coverage. Along with the new live, on-site broadcasts, viewers will also see some new faces on this year’s telecasts. ESPN added new commentators for its telecasts during the offseason. Veteran manager Eric Wedge has been added to the Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown roster as has former perfect game pitcher Dallas Braden. Braden will join ESPN’s weekly broadcast as an analyst. Wedge will contribute regularly to the show, too.

MLB great and former manager Ozzie Guillen joined ESPN Deportes throughout the 2013 MLB season. His role has been expanded this season. Guillen will contribute both to ESPN Deportes and ESPN’s English-language platforms this season, including regular appearances on Baseball Tonight. Eduardo Perez returns to the broadcast side of the game after spending the past two seasons in the dugout. Perez will contribute largely to MLB broadcasts on ESPN Deportes. Both Guillen and Perez will join Manny Acta and Alex Cora in ESPN’s growing stable of bilingual MLB analysts.

As the 2014 MLB season progresses, audiences can stay tuned in to ESPN as the Worldwide Leader in Sports will televise special holiday games on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, as well as at least one Wild Card game, in addition to NY and all tie-breaker games. Making the deal even sweeter, ESPN will have rights to four Postseason Impact games in late September. This will allow ESPN to present the top games and storylines from around the league heading into the postseason. The schedule for ESPN’s special holiday broadcasts is provided below.

Holiday Date Time (ET) Game
Memorial Day Mon, May 26 1 p.m. Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves
4 p.m. New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals
Independence Day Fri, Jul 4 3 p.m. New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins
TBD TBD
Labor Day Mon, Sep 1 TBD TBD
TBD TBD

If the weekly Sunday night broadcast of MLB games isn’t enough for fans, ESPN will also offer audiences a special “seamheads” edition of Baseball Tonight every Thursday night at 10pm ET. ESPN MLB Insiders Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, and Jayson Stark will serve as the panel for the program. They will discuss all even more insight than is offered every Sunday night, including: advanced stats, ranking, and breaking news and rumors throughout the season. They will be joined occasionally by Keith Law and Grantland’s Jonah Keri.

ESPN is going to have expansive and in-depth coverage of MLB baseball this season, as is obvious by now. But it’s still not all that fans have to expect from the Worldwide Leader in Sports during the 2014 MLB season. ESPN will also present specially produced vignettes each week across its TV and internet platforms that celebrate each of the league’s teams. The first of those vignettes will air tonight, March 30th. It will focus on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The final touch to ESPN’s massive list of changes for this season of MBL coverage involves coverage on ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes +. ESPN Deportes increases its broadcast schedule to more than eighty regular season games. That is sixty-five games more than in previous seasons. ESPN Deportes + will also include exclusive Spanish-language coverage of thirty regular season games.

More information on all of the latest on the ESPN family of networks’ MLB coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/mlb. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Films’ Latest Release Debuts April 17th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films debuts the latest release in its 30 for 30 series next month.

Bad Boys, the latest film from ESPN Films’ hit series, premieres Thursday, April 17th at 8pm ET on ESPN.  The film was produced by NBA Entertainment and helmed by Zak Levitt.  The film’s story centers on the Detroit Pistons’ heyday of the late 80s and early 90s.  The Pistons of the 80s and 90s was one of those teams that fans either loved or hated.  There was no in between for this squad.  Those that loved the team called it a group of men that wasn’t afraid to work hard and really get in the paint.  It was a team, to those fans, that was afraid of no one.  That same win at all costs mentality is also what led many to despise the team.

The film highlights the highs and lows of the team’s heyday through interviews with the likes of Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, and Mark Aguirre among others.  The interviews give viewers a more personal look at what made the team one of the league’s most talked about. Also included are personal insights from some of the biggest names to face Detroit during the late 80s and early 90s. Those names include: Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Kevin McHale, Dominique Wilkins, and James Worthy.  Former NBA Commissioner David Stern also shares his thoughts on what made the team such a lightning rod in the league at that time.

The premiere of Bad Boys will be followed immediately by Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix, a special one-hour presentation featuring Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose.  The pair will be joined by Isiah Thomas and Doug Collins to discuss the film.  The pair will also share more thoughts on the highs and lows of the Pistons.  Along with their appearance on Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix, Thomas and Collins will be part of Grantland’s “Detroit Week” package, kicking off April 14th.  Grantland’s “Detroit Week” will include written features about the city of Detroit and its history as well as Detroit-themed podcasts on the Grantland Network.

More information on ESPN Films and its hit 30 for 30 series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Debuts Latest Film in 30 For 30 Shorts Series

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN debuted the latest installment in its 30 for 30 Shorts series today.  Silver Reunion debuted today on Grantland.com.  The short—directed by 5-time Emmy Award winning director Rory Karpf—centers on the 1972 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball team and its controversial matchup against the Soviet Union.  Four decades after the team’s much talked about game which led the team to a silver medal finish, the team members reunited to either officially accept or once again refuse the medals for a game that each believes the team hadn’t actually lost.  The team had originally been awarded the Silver medal from the game.  But each member turned down his medal in protest.

This latest installment in the 30 for 30 Shorts series sees the team reunite for the very first time and discuss the choice whether or not to accept the medals that they believe were wrongly awarded.  The controversy stems from what is believed to be a series of bad calls that led to the then Soviet Union’s win.  It can be viewed online now at http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9103152/the-unclaimed-medals-1972-us-men-basketball-team-stars-latest-30-30-documentary-series.

The 30 for 30 Shorts series is crafted by Blue Moon.  Other previous films in the series include:  Arnold’s Blueprint, Ali:  The Mission, Holy Grail:  The T206 Honus Wagner, and others.  They can all be viewed online at Grantland.com.

To keep up with the latest in ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts series and more, go online to http://www.espn.com/30for30 or its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Airs Latest Film In 30 for 30 Series Tuesday Night

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPN Films

The latest installment of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series is set to air tomorrow night, October 9th, at 8pm EST.  Following the success of Broken, ESPN will next air the program, 9.799.79 follows the now matchup between track stars Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis in the Men’s 100m final at the 1988 Olympic Games.  While the matchup made news headlines around the world, the steroid scandal that followed it was just as big.  97.9 focuses on the scandal as well.  The scandal centered on what would become an increasingly large revelation about those who had taken P.E.D.’s and anabolic steroids.  Johnson himself was wrapped up in the scandal, and would lose his gold medal as a result of the investigation.  The trailer for the special can be viewed here:  http://espn.go.com/30for30/

Along with tomorrow night’s broadcast, Grantland.com will run two features related to 97.9.  One of those features will be a podcast featuring an episode of Bill Simmons’ The B.S. Report.  Malcolm Gladwell will be on the podcast.  There will also be a first-hand account of the matchup written by Grantland writer Charlie Pierce.  Pierce was on hand for the race at the games in Seoul.

97.9 was a selection in this year’s annual Toronto Film Festival.  It was directed by Daniel Gordon.  For those that can’t catch tomorrow night’s broadcast, there are four more films in the latest 30 for 30 series.  Audiences can catch There’s No Place Like Home next Tuesday, October 16th at 8pm EST.  And on the following Tuesday, October 23rd, ESPN will air Benji at 8pm EST.  ESPN will close out the month with a broadcast of Ghosts of Ole Miss on Tuesday, October 30th at 8pm EST.  The last film in this series will be You Don’t Know Bo.  Fans can catch this piece Saturday, December 8th at 9pm.

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 Kicks Off New Online Series

Courtesy: ESPN

The first of the new features from ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts has officially premiered.  “Arnold’s Blueprint” follows the life of bodybuilder/actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It focuses primarily on Arnold’s teenage years in the Austrian army.  The twelve minute short—directed by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist (The Two Escobars)—tells how Arnold’s time in the Austrian army would eventually lead to his beginnings in the world of bodybuilding.  The short can be watched here:  http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8424161/the-first-short-new-30-30-documentary-series.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 shorts are presented in partnership with Grantland.com.  The thirty part digital series will be similar in format to the network’s famed 30 for 30 TV series of specials.  Each short will be presented from the vantage point of its director and how each mixes the story with his or her own style of film making.  Grantland.com will feature one new 30 for 30 Short each month.  Each feature will be accompanied by a written feature and extra material to add context.

“Arnold’s Blueprint” is accompanied by a written article by Brian Phillips.  Phillips’ article will focus on George Reeves.  Reeves was Arnold’s bodybuilding coach turned movie star.  Other 30 for 30 Shorts that fans can expect to come include:  “Silver Reunion”, “The Arnold Palmer”, “Holy Grail:  The T206 Honus Wagner”, and “Tommy and Frank.” 

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 keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.