30 For 30: Soccer Stories Kicks Off April 15th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

April 15th is perhaps the single most hated day of the year every year. It is the deadline to file taxes on time. This year however, ESPN and ESPN Films are giving everyone reason to be happy on April 15th. That’s because ESPN Films will present the latest addition to its award-winning 30 for 30 film series as a reward for enduring tax day.

ESPN Films will present Hillsborough, the first in the 30 for 30: Soccer Stories series, on April 15th at 8pm ET on ESPN.  Hillsborough examines what is the single worst sporting disaster in the history of the United Kingdom. The film examines the events in the years, months, weeks, and days leading up to the tragedy, which left ninety-six people dead and hundreds more injured at an FA Cup Semifinal matchup between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England.

Hillsborough tells the story of the tragedy through first-hand accounts of fans in attendance and from police officers. Many of those that appeared on camera to share their stories did so for the first time since the horrific events of that day a quarter of a century ago. Many of those interviewed for Hillsborough are still seeking justice for their loved ones to this day.

ESPN Films’ 30 for 30: Soccer Stories is a mix of feature-length films and 30-minute long documentary films promoting ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The series of films is presented by an award-winning group of filmmakers. It tells stories from around the world of soccer both from the United States and around the world. The complete schedule of films in ESPN Films’ is available online at http://es.pn/1aOGWre. More information on ESPN Films’ 30 for 30: Soccer Stories is available online at http://espn.go.com/30for30/soccer.

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.

ESPN2 To Air 2014 WNBA Draft Live April 14th

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN2 will present the 2014WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm Live next Monday, April 14th, 2014.

Monday’s WNBA Draft will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena , home of the Connecticut Sun. Round will be broadcast live at 8pm ET on ESPN2. The second and third rounds of the WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm will be broadcast online via ESPN3 from 9 – 10:30pm ET. Kevin Negandhi will anchor ESPN2’s coverage of the draft. Analysts Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck will join him to add their own insight on the draft, as will reporter Holly Rowe.

Additional content will be offered across the ESPN platforms including SportsCenter and espnW.com.

The Connecticut Sun will have the top pick in the draft for the second consecutive year. The Sun will have a big crop of players from which to choose this year as top picks Chelsea Gray (Duke), Bria Hartley (Connecticut), Kayla McBride (Notre Dame), Shoni Schimmel (Louisville), Meighan Simmons (Tennessee) and Odyssey Sims (Baylor) have all been named as top picks in this year’s draft. Also named among the most talked about names in this year’s draft are forwards Natalie Achonwa (Notre Dame), Natasha Howard (Florida State), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Alyssa Thomas (Maryland), and centers Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut) and Markeisha Gatling (NC State). The draft order in the WNBA Draft is chosen through the WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm.

Tulsa holds the second pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, followed by the San Antonio Stars, New York Liberty, and Indiana Fever.

More information on this year’s WNBA Draft presented by State Farm is available online at http://espnW.com, http://www.facebook.com/espnW, http://www.facebook.com/wnba, and http://www.wnba.com. 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.

UConn/Notre Dame Ratings Best For Any ESPN Women’s College Basketball Broadcast In A Decade

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Tuesday night’s broadcast of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship has given ESPN its best ratings for a broadcast of women’s college basketball in a decade. This announcement came Wednesday.

Tuesday night’s broadcast of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship between the UConn Huskies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish gave ESPN a 2.8 US Rating. That is the highest rating for any women’s college basketball broadcast in a decade. It is the highest for women’s college basketball since the Huskies defeated Tennessee for the women’s NCAA Division I title in 2004. That game pulled in a 3.5 US Rating.

In terms of total numbers, Tuesday night’s broadcast averaged 3.21 million households and 4.27 viewers (P2+). That is fourth and sixth respectively since ESPN started broadcasting the NCAA Division I Women’s College Basketball Championship in1996. This year’s 2.8 rating represents an increase in viewership of forty percent over last year’s 2.0 for UConn’s championship matchup against Louisville.

ESPN made big marks both on television and online thanks to its broadcast of the UConn/Notre Dame matchup Tuesday night. Over 100,000 people watched the game on WatchESPN and ESPN3’s special Surround production of the game. This generated 3,800,000 minutes on the game. Both the 100,000 viewers and the total minutes are all-time highs for a women’s college basketball game. Even better for ESPN, Tuesday’s game generated the most minutes viewed for an ESPN3 Surround production to date.

The Hartford/New Haven market led the way among metered markets with a 29.3 rating. That is the highest overnight for any cable broadcast so far this year. Nashville, the site of the championship, came in second overnight with a 6.8. Knoxville came in third with a 6.0, followed by Louisville (5.5), Indianapolis (4.8), Raleigh-Durham (4.7), Providence (4.6), new York (4.6), Memphis (4.5), and Greenville (4.5).

More information on Tuesday’s broadcast and all ESPN coverage of NCAA Women’s Basketball is available online at http://espnW.com, http://www.facebook.com/espnW, http://www.facebook.com/ESPNCollegebasketball, and http://espn.go.com/womens-basketball. 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 Releases 2014 Preseason NFL Coverage Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN announced this week that it will broadcast two NFL preseason games as part of the network’s 2014 Monday Night Football schedule. The first of the two games will see the Jacksonville Jaguars taking on Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. That game is scheduled to take place Thursday, August 14th, 2014. The broadcast is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET. The Browns will be on the road the following Monday, August 18th, visiting RG3 and the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Despite being a preseason game, it will be a pivotal matchup as it will be a battle of first-year head coaches. Jay Gruden, who left Cincinnati to take the helm in Washington, will lead the Redskins against Mike Pettine in his first ever game as a head coach in this game.

Mike Tirico and Gruden’s brother Jon will have the call for both games. They will be joined by reporter Lisa Salters. Both games will be preceded by a one-hour edition of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown pregame show.

ESPN Deportes will carry both preseason games as well as regular season games. All games broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes will also be available online via tablets and computers via WatchESPN.

More information on ESPN’s NFL coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/nfl. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news reviews, go online to htt://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.

NHRA Going Four Wide This Weekend

Courtesy:  NHRA

Courtesy: NHRA

The NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series is going four-wide this weekend.

Drag Racing’s top series will be at the famed ZMax Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend for the NHRA 4Wide Nationals. The annual 4Wide Nationals is the one time each season that the NHRA sends four cars down the track at one time.  John Force Racing driver Robert Hight comes in to this weekend’s atop the Funny Car standings with his car owner John Force nine points back in second. Doug Kalitta leads the Top Fuel standings. Antron Brown, Kalitta’s closest competition right now, is a staggering seventy-three points back in second in that division. Erica Enders-Stevens leads the Pro-Stock division fifteen points ahead of Jason Line. And in the Pro-Stock Motorcycle division, Steve Johnson comes into this weekend’s event twenty-one points ahead of Scott Pollacheck.

ESPN2 and ESPN3 will have all of the weekend’s coverage beginning with live qualifying Friday afternoon at 4:15pm on ESPN3. Qualifying will be re-broadcast Saturday night on ESPN2at 9pm ET. Final eliminations will be broadcast live online on ESPN3 Sunday, April 13th at 12pm ET. ESPN2 will carry the television re-broadcast of Final Eliminations Sunday night at 8pm ET. Dave Rieff will anchor the broadcast. He will be joined by analyst Mike Dunn for all of the weekend’s action.

More information on this weekend’s events is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing and http://www.nhra.com. 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.

NNS Takes On The Lady In Black Friday Night On ESPN2

Courtesy:  NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

Courtesy: NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne spent the first five weeks of the NASCAR Nationwide Series battling for the series’ points lead. But the points picture is quite different after both drivers had a tough time Friday night. Regan Smith’s seventh place finish dropped him to second place , two points back from new points leader Chase Elliot. Bayne finished Friday’s race in twenty-third, dropping him to fifth overall in the points standings. Now, both drivers look to move back up the ladder this weekend when the Nationwide Series heads to Darlington Speedway this weekend.

The NASCAR Nationwide will take on “The Lady in Black” Friday night in the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning with Nascar Countdown at 7:30pm ET. Nicole Briscoe will anchor the broadcast. She will be joined by NASCAR veterans and ESPN analysts Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven for the pre-race broadcast. Allen Bestwick will call all of the flag-to-flag action from the booth. He will be joined by NASCAR legend and ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace and former NASCAR crew chief Andy Petree.

Pre-race ceremonies for Friday’s race are expected to begin at 8pm ET, with thegreen flag expected to drop at 8:16pm ET. More information on Friday’s broadcast and more on ESPN’s NASCAR coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. To Serve As In-Race Reporter Tomorrow Night In O’Reilly Auto Parts 300

Courtesy:  NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

Courtesy: NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads this week from NASCAR’s smallest track to one of its biggest.

Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith are now tied atop the NNS points standings as the NNS gears up for Round 6 of the series’ schedule. Round 6 brings the NNS to Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 live from. ESPN2 will have live flag-to-flag coverage of tomorrow night’s race beginning with the network’s weekly pre-race show, NASCAR Countdown at 8pm ET.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will make a rare appearance tomorrow night, driving the #88 Ragu Chevy Camaro. He will also serve as ESPN2’s in-race reporter. ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace will discuss the race with Earnhardt during the race’s pace laps and caution laps.

Pre-race coverage on ESPN2 is expected to begin at 8:30pm ET.

More information on tomorrow night’s coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 and the rest of the 2014 NNS schedule is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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 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 Opens 25th Anniversary Season Of MLB Coverage This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN hits a major mark this weekend.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports begins its 25th season of Major League Baseball coverage beginning this Sunday night. ESPN opens its 25th anniversary season covering Major League Baseball live from San Diego, California. Chase Headley and the Padres host Yasiel Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers live on ESPN’s MLB Opening Night Presented by Scotts at 8pm ET on ESPN in the network’s season opening broadcast. Dan Shulman will have the call. He will be joined by analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney for the broadcast. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes Radio, and ESPN Deportes. Before the game starts, ESPN will air a special 90-minute edition of Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown beginning at 6:30pm live from Petco Park in San Diego with Karl Ravech, Jon Kruk and MLB Hall of Famer/ESPN analyst Barry Larkin. Larkin and Ravech will hit the road after Sunday’s broadcast for a special Opening Day edition of Baseball Tonight live at 12pm ET live from Great American Ballpark.

Sunday night’s Opening Night broadcast will be followed up Monday with an Opening Day double header broadcast. Game one will come live from Pittsburgh as reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates host Starlin Castro and the Chicago Cubs. The broadcast is scheduled for a 1pm ET start time. Sean McDonough will anchor the broadcast. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Aaron Boone and reporter Tim Kurkjian. The second game on the day will see Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds host NL Central foes and defending National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Dan Shulman will have the play-by-play for the game. He will be joined by Jon Kruk and Buster Olney for the trio’s second game in less than twenty-four hours.

If ESPN’s Opening Day double header isn’t enough for baseball lovers, ESPN2 will have a triple-header beginning at 3pm ET. Game one on the day’s schedule will see David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox hosting Chris Davis and the Baltimore Orioles at the famed Fenway Park. Dave O’Brien will anchor the broadcast. He will be joined in the booth by analysts Rick Sutcliff and Eric Wedge, and reporter Pedro Gomez. Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies will host Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins in the second game of the three-game schedule. SportsCenter’s Steve Levy will call the play-by-play action for the game. He will be joined by analyst Eduardo Perez for more insight. The last game of the day on ESPN2’s triple header schedule will see Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners on the road against Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That game is scheduled for a 10pm ET start time. Jon Sciambi will have the call. Analyst Doug Glanville and reporter Jessica Mendoza will also be on hand for more coverage throughout the game.

All of ESPN’s games and Baseball Tonight can be watched online through all computers and mobile internet via WatchESPN. Specific games will also be on ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes +, and ESPN Radio.

More information on ESPN’s Opening Night and Opening Day coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com. 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.

Former Bucs GM ESPN’s Newest NFL Insider

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has added another new name to its NFL Insiders staff.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik has joined the staff of ESPN’s NFL Insiders.  Dominik served as Tampa Bay’s General Manager for five seasons from 2009 – 2013.  He joins ESPN’s NFL talk show as a Front Office Insider.  He is scheduled to make his debut next Thursday, March 27th.

As per the terms of his agreement, Dominik’s appearances won’t be limited to NFL Insiders.  He will also contribute to NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and ESPN Insider on ESPN.com.  Seth Markman, Senior Coordinating Producer for ESPN’s NFL Studio programs noted Dominik’s extensive experience in NFL’s front offices in discussing with reporters why he was brought on board.  “Mark has almost two decades of experience moving up the ranks in an NFL organization, so he’s well-versed in scouting, free agency, player development and so many of the issues we delve into each day on NFL Insiders,” he said.  “He adds another credible voice to our team and will make us even better.”

Dominik shared his own thoughts on joining NFL Insiders, noting how his experience will benefit the show.  He said of his new job, “I am excited to join ESPN and look forward to sharing my perspective on the kinds of issues and decisions general managers face daily within their organizations.”

Dominik is a native of St. Cloud, Minnesota.  He holds a Bachelor of Sport Management from the University of Kansas.  He spent nineteen years with Tampa Bay beginning as a Pro Personnel Assistant in 1995.  He was promoted to Pro Scout in 1998, then to Coordinator in 2000 and Director shortly thereafter.  He served in that position for nine years before being named the team’s General Manager in January 2009.

More information on ESPN’s NFL programming is available online at http://espn.go.com/nfl and http://www.facebook.com/NFLonESPN.  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.