This goes out to my friends at Turner Sports who have been loyal readers of Fang’s Bites since last year. Bring back the TBS Hot Corner studio show for next postseason. Since TBS Hot Corner relaunched for this year’s League Division Series, I have visited the site three times. If you came here last season, you’ll know I live blogged Hot Corner throughout the LDS and NLCS. I quite enjoyed the interaction between the hosts and the viewers.
While the interactive camera angles are nice this season, the silence from Atlanta is deafening. I’ve seen Beau Estes and Trenni Kusnierek conduct interviews for Hot Corner from the field before games and they have done a great job, but overall, it has not been compelling enough for me to stay with the features this season.
I admit Heather Catlin and Kelly Cross were very easy on the eyes while tool Matt D’Agostino annoyed me to no end, but the studio show hit its stride and I thought it deserved to come back this season.
Hot Corner will return for the American League Championship Series and Fox Sports plans similar interactive features for the National League Championship Series with different camera angles, but so far, no word if it will have an online pregame show like it did last season.
So for next season, bring back the TBS Hot Corner pregame and in-game studio show and I’ll return to live blogging like I did last season.
As we speed into the Fall season (it begins on Monday), this is our last official Megalink session of the Summer. Yes, our mindset of Summer is gone, but officially, Fall begins on Monday. We have a lot of good links for you today so let’s get cracking, but first, we have our Weekend Viewing Picks.
The Ryder Cup dominates both ESPN and NBC this weekend. ESPN is providing coverage today through 6 p.m. Then NBC takes over the coverage from the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville with the Foursome and Fourball matches on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Then the individual match play begins Sunday at noon. The US hopes to break the European three match winning streak. In addition to NBC’s coverage, ESPN will have extensive coverage of the Ryder Cup with live SportsCenters from Valhalla at midnight on ESPN2. Live streaming coverage can also be seen at Ryder Cup Live. You can also see Friend of Fang’s Bites, Beau “The guy I ripped last October” Estes, doing the highlights for Ryder Cup Live throughout the weekend.
The NFL is in Week 3 and CBS has the doubleheader for the second consecutive week. The highlight of the afternoon will be Pittsburgh at Philadelphia at 4:15 p.m. Fox has regional coverage including a game which really should have a national showcase, New Orleans at Denver at 4:05 p.m. NBC’s Sunday Night Football has the game of the day with a battle of undefeated teams, Dallas at Green Bay. The entire viewing schedule with announcing assignments, coverage maps, DirecTV and Sirius Satellite Radio channel assignments can be seen in the NFL Viewing Picks.
For college football, ESPN’s College Gameday will be live from Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium at 10 a.m. Notre Dame-Michigan State on ABC and Florida-Tennessee on CBS highlight the viewing at 3:30 p.m. Then in primetime, ESPN has LSU-Auburn at 7:45 p.m. and ABC returns with Georgia-Arizona State at 8 p.m. The full national TV schedule along with Big Ten Network, ABC and ESPN coverage maps is in the College Football Viewing Picks.
The baseball playoff picture may get a bit clearer this weekend. With the Chicago Cubs just two games away from clinching the NL Central and the Mets battling the Phillies in the NL East, Fox has coverage of three games on Saturday. Cards-Cubs will be the feature game, going to most of the country. Again, the network has some funky announcing teams for Saturday. The regional splits and announcing assignments are here.
WGN has the White Sox hoping to get closer to the AL Central crown against Kansas City on Saturday at 7 p.m. And the following day, if the Cubs haven’t clinched the NL Central, WGN hopes to have the celebration during its coverage of the Cards-Cubs at 2 p.m.
Also on Sunday, TBS has the Red Sox at Toronto at 1 p.m. Before that, TBS has a special edition of MLB on Deck at 12:30 p.m. as Ernie Johnson, Jr., Cal Ripken, Jr., Dennis Eckersley, Jr., and Harold Reynolds, Jr. all preview the upcoming playoffs.
Then ESPN will conclude its Sunday Night Baseball coverage for 2008 with the final game ever at Yankee Stadium. ESPN2 will have pregame ceremonies starting at 7 p.m., then turn it over to ESPN at 8. The game between the Orioles and Yankees will be secondary. Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford are expected to visit the booth with Jon Miller and Joe “I’m the Greatest” Morgan. First pitch is scheduled around 9:05 p.m. I can already hear the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick complaining.
NASCAR has the Camping World RV 400 on ABC at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Did you know that the Davis Cup is in the semifinal round and the US has a chance to advance to the finals against Spain? You do now and Versus has same day coverage at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
And Fox Sports brings the AVP tour to its airwaves for the very first time. It will carry the women’s championship of the Manhattan Beach Open and hopes to have Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in the match. Depending on the NFL game in your area, you can see the match Sunday at either 2:30 or 4:30 p.m.
Now let’s get to your links.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand talks about future Hall of Fame Braves pitcher John Smoltz joining TBS for the MLB playoffs.
The always lovely Daryn Kagan has the story of a man who’s walking every round of the PGA Tour this season despite a serious physical challenge.
Christopher Byrne of the Eye on Sports Media says he’s happy to see Dave Rowe back in the broadcast booth after getting a new lease on life.
Maury Brown in the Biz of Baseball recaps an interview that MLB El Presidente del Mundo Bud Selig did with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Glen Dickson of Broadcasting & Cable says subscribers to AT&T and Verizon Wireless can watch the Ryder Cup on their cell phones.
East and Mid-Atlantic
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe discusses NBC’s coverage of the Ryder Cup from Valhalla.
The Sox & Dawgs blog has the news of WEEI somehow winning a prestigious Marconi Award. Prestigious and WEEI do not mix.
The great Neil Best of Newsday talks about ESPN preparing to give Yankee Stadium a proper sendoff. Neil also has a story on baseball home run ball hog Zack Hample who has yet to meet a microphone he doesn’t like. In his blog, Neil wonders if WFAN’s Boomer Esiason took a shot at former co-worker Chris “Mad Dog” Russo.
Speaking of Russo, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick bashes both him and his former partner Mike Francesa.
Over to the New York Daily News, Bob Raissman says Yankee Stadium owes a lot to Boss George Steinbrenner.
This is the first time for Alan Pergament of the Buffalo News in the Friday megalinks. He writes that Matthew Barnaby will replace Barry Melrose as the NHL analyst for ESPN.
To the Baltimore Sun where Ray Frager writes about the Ryder Cup and Johnny Miller’s thoughts about the US’ chances this weekend.
From the DC/Baltimore Examiner, Jim Williams writes that NBC’s Johnny Miller is never afraid to speak his mind.
Tim Lemke of the Washington Times has his sports viewing best bets for the weekend.
Bob Diddlebock of the Denver Examiner says it should be no surprise that the local CBS affiliate has chosen to blow away “Face the Nation” for a local NFL pregame show.
Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News writes that UCLA fans spent last Saturday ripping Versus.
John Maffei in the North County Times says the San Diego Chargers are primetime players this season.
In the Ventura County Star, Jim Carlisle writes about the Ryder Cup coverage on ESPN and NBC.
Steve Springer of the Los Angeles Times wonders what Howard Cosell would think of Monday Night Football today.
Tom Hoffarth in today’s Los Angeles Daily News catches up with ESPN’s Linda Cohn whose new book chronicles her rise at the Worldwide Leader and her divorce from her husband. In his blog, Tom has some more notes on Linda. And Tom has some extensive media notes as well.
John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News has his Morning Buzz On the Air column.
Gary Washburn of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the city’s losing teams are taking a toll on the local sports radio talk shows.
Doug Nye of The State goes over his ten favorite baseball movies. That might be an idea for Videos of the Week!
Barry Jackson in the Miami Herald says ESPN’s Monday Night Football could use some further tweaking.
Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel writes that ESPN’s coverage of this weekend’s Ryder Cup completes the Al Michaels for Oswald the Rabbit trade.
The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron says the area’s sports reporters were pressed into news duty for Hurricane Ike coverage.
Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman says hard work paid off for the new TV broadcast team for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Mel has a preview of the Ryder Cup. You can look at Mel’s media notes. And the Ryder Cup is among Mel’s weekend viewing picks.
Bob Wolfley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has NBC’s John Madden singing the praises of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers.
Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press wonders if Sarah Palin can make the transition from sports anchor to politics, who else from the sports TV world can make the transition.
Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald says the swap of White Sox radio and TV analysts for next season does not come without some risk.
Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin tells us that there will be plenty of Ryder Cup coverage on your TV this weekend.
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel will be all over ESPN’s multiple platforms on Tuesday. And Dan has the St. Louis Blues’ TV schedule.
That will do it.
Last October as the MLB League Division Series was underway, I was watching TBS Hot Corner online and was in the midst of writing a post and saw Beau Estes for the first time. I proceeded to rip him and studio co-host Matt D’Agostino. In a surprise, Beau sent a nice e-mail to me saying he was thankful that someone was watching.
Since then, we’ve exchanged e-mails and Beau kindly agreed to do an interview with Fang’s Bites to discuss the return of TBS Hot Corner and his role as a host/reporter at Turner Sports over the years. The interview is below:
Fang’s Bites: First, thanks for doing this interview after I ripped you last October. I’m glad that you have a sense of humor about it.
Beau Estes: No problem. I’ve found it’s always wise to have a sense of humor especially when one of the parties involved has the words “bites” and “fang’s” in his monicker. In truth, I was thrilled that people were watching.
FB: Touche. How did you get involved in TBS Hot Corner?
BE: I am an anchor and reporter for Turner Sports Interactive so jumping in with Hot Corner was a natural fit. My regular roles have me covering a few of golf’s major championships; namely The Open Championship and the PGA Championship, as well as most of the NASCAR season.
In the past I’ve also hosted the Braves studio show on TBS (just prior to Erin Andrews who turned out more than ok I think) so there was a background in baseball that I could draw from. I think the people at Turner Sports knew that I was itching to get back out to the ballpark and I was thankful to them for giving me the opportunity to do that.
FB: I know that TBS and MLB.com worked together on Hot Corner. As far as you know, will the two be partners again this season?
BE: I know that TBS is working to build off of the momentum we developed last year during the playoffs on Hot Corner. The playoffs are obviously the thrust of these efforts, but I know that they are hoping to develop unique content during the regular season as well. What that content will be is currently being hashed out, but I can say that one of their main goals is to give our users the best access possible. From my perspective, I think the idea is to provide a window for our users to see those – behind the scenes – “wow” moments that so many of us as reporters are able to witness.
FB: What were some of the memorable moments for you covering last year’s playoffs?
BE: Well, since I wasn’t able to meet Alyssa Milano, I’ll have to go with something that happened during a rain shower prior to Game 3 of the Divisional Series at Wrigley Field. It was one of those “wow” moments that I’m hoping we can continue to deliver to our users in the future.
As the raindrops started getting heavy just after batting practice I sat by myself in the Cubs dugout preparing to file my first report for Hot Corner. Just moments after I sat down Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks walked out and sat right next to me. It was just the two of us alone in the dugout at Wrigley field with nobody around. I had interviewed him the year before during the PGA Championship at Medinah and so we started talking about his golf game, then Cubs baseball and his seemingly limitless energy. It was a moment I’ll never forget. The guy truly is a living legend.
FB: What will your role be for Hot Corner this season?
BE: We haven’t discussed a formal “role” at this point. The conversations have revolved more around ideas for taking what was a great start with TBS Hot Corner and improving upon that. Since the majority of my work is as a studio anchor though, I always welcome the opportunity to get out in the field and witness events first hand. No matter what though, I trust that Turner Sports is quite confident in my abilities and will place me where I am most useful to them.
FB: Was the fact that so many people were watching Hot Corner during the playoffs last season a deciding factor for TBS bringing it back in the regular season?
BE: I know that Turner Sports was very happy with the number of viewers and perhaps we owe you a debt of gratitude in that regard. Whenever people respond to what we do I know that it inspires everyone involved in the project. Frankly and simply, it makes us want to do a better job for the people who might be stuck in their office or cubicle around the world, but still want to connect with and follow the game. For those people, we are often the only broadcast they can get.
FB: Turner has been quite proactive in establishing its online presence for its big events like the NBA, NASCAR, the PGA Championship and Hot Corner. Do you see other networks following Turner’s step in this direction?
BE: I suppose it is already happening a bit, but yes, Turner pioneered this type of broadcasting to a large extent. If other networks aren’t working frantically to catch up with what Turner has done I would be surprised. What I like about Turner is that they are constantly pushing that envelope in the broadband broadcasting world. They are always asking the questions “what is next?” and “how do we make this better for our users?” For my money, that is the recipe for continued success.
FB: Have you enjoyed your tenure at Turner?
BE: Turner has been great for me and I hope I’ve been pretty good for them as well. Getting to work in the same studio with the same group of people that do Inside the NBA has made me much better than I ever imagined I could be.
FB: Where else have you worked?
BE: Prior to Turner I hosted a High School show on the local CBS affiliate in Atlanta and for about two years I was an anchor and reporter with FSN South in Atlanta.
FB: When did you join TBS/TNT?
BE: Actually I began working on Turner’s NBA coverage in November of 1994 while I was still in college. To get back to Turner in an on-camera role I did a “high school to the pro’s” move.
While hosting a prep sports show in Atlanta I auditioned for the Braves studio role. My test was good enough for them to give me the role of studio host going into the 2001 season and like most “high school to the pro’s” stories there was quite a few learning experiences and perhaps one or two growing pains. Following my Braves gig I hosted the Atlanta Thrasher’s studio show and was a sideline reporter for the Atlanta Hawks on the now defunct Turner South network. I took off from there for FSN South for a couple of years, but am now thrilled to be back with Turner.
FB: What has been your most exciting assignment thus far?
BE: That question is about as tough for me to answer as “what is the meaning of life?” On the High School show I covered Jeff Francouer when he was a prep star and watched him win back to back football and baseball titles. For pure fun, that would be hard to match. Believe me when I tell you he would have made the NFL without much difficulty.
The Braves studio show on TBS was a sort of validation for a kid’s dream of becoming a sportscaster so that was a thrill.
Being the worldwide online play by play voice for Tiger’s last two PGA Championships is something that I am very proud of and haven’t quite got my mind around. I think the significance of that is something that will grow as time goes on.
Reporting from Carnoustie at last year’s Open was maybe as excited as I’ve been – and on a personal level it was an absolute thrill to cover the 2005 UNC National Championship hoops team.
Still, what I always go back to though was getting to meet and work with James Worthy. Growing up in Charlotte, he was the basketball icon.
FB: So you didn’t get to meet Alyssa Milano. What can you tell us about Heather Catlin and Kelly Cross? And do you think the producers will allow you near Alyssa in the future?
BE: Heather and Kelly, along with Matt and Chris, are terrific. I know what it’s like to be responsible for hosting eight hours at a time of live coverage and I really thought they did a great job. Both Heather and Kelly are a lot of fun – but they also know how to get the job done on the air and I think you could see that from our product last year.
As far as the producers letting me near Alyssa all I can say is my fingers are crossed. From all that I’ve heard she was very knowledgeable and maybe as impressive – quite down to earth and easy to work with.
On some level though, I suppose it’s best if I work on the other side of the country from Ms. Milano. I’m afraid my reports if in her presence would have a sort of Brick Tamland “I love lamp” quality if she were nearby.
FB: Thanks once again for doing this, Beau. The fact you’re willing to be interviewed after I ripped you shows you’re a better man than me.
BE: I don’t care if I end up singlehandedly saving the human race from disaster – I’ll always hope you link to me as “the guy I ripped last October.”
If that unlikely scenario plays itself out, and only then will I begin to consider myself “the better man.” It’s been fun – thanks.
Once again, I’d like to thank Beau for doing the interview over the last two days. And I’ll have an interview with Rodney Vaughn, the producer of TBS Hot Corner coming up soon.