Weekend Watch – NFL Preseason Kick Off

We finally get some NFL game action this weekend, even if it is only a preseason tilt between the Raiders and Eagles. That game also marks the return of the NFL to NBC.

The Red Sox will be in Tampa this weekend, hoping to make up the game they trail the Yankees by in the AL East standings. Unfortunately, the Yankees are playing the Orioles this weekend, so Red Sox fans can’t count on getting any help. Check in on the Yankees with the New York Newspapers Sports Sections.

Keep up with the baseball coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page.

The Patriots don’t have a preseason game until next Friday when they take on the Falcons. In the meantime, they continue grinding through camp. Get your stories from the blogs and newspapers on the Patriots Daily Links Page. If you haven’t already, be sure to also check out the BSMW Game Day Roundtable discussion for this week, breaking down the crucial issues from the first week of camp.

ESPN has the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies tomorrow at 1:00 PM. Immediately following the program is the 2006 Johnsonville World Bratwurst Eating Championship from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. No I didn’t just make that up.

Sunday has the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NBC has the coverage of the NASCAR event, in HD at 1:30.

If you’ve got an extra $19.95 that is simply burning a hole in your wallet, you might want to consider that tonight (Friday) is the premiere of The Inside Madden NFL 07 pay-per-view program at 8 p.m. Madden NFL 07 isn’t scheduled for release for another 18 days, but you can use your 20 bucks to get a behind-the-scenes look inside this year’s video game release. EA designers and world-ranked players will lead you on a guided tour through new changes and advances in all aspects of the game. The special will also include an exclusive release of player ratings, tips from top Madden gamers and details about the making of the next generation of Madden NFL games. And yes, I was as incredulous as you are right now when I first read that.080406TV.png

As you’ve probably noted, I’ve tinkered with the format of this Friday/Weekend column over the months. I’ll continue to do so. This week, instead of just listing out the national media columns, I’ve done them up “links style” so that hopefully you can get a better idea of what the stories are about. I’ve also divided them by region:

East Coast

David Scott reported that Boston Globe Patriots beat writer Jerome Solomon is leaving the paper to return to the Houston Chronicle. This after feeling like he never really fit in in Boston. Richard Sandomir has a look at how the flexibility given to NBC in its new Sunday Night Football package is like no other deal ever given to a network. Neil Best spent a night listening to both the Mets and Yankees radio broadcasting teams and gives us his conclusions. Not shockingly, he describes Yankees announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman as “your bloviating uncle and his long-suffering wife holding court on the porch.” Phil Mushnick has Yankees TV man Michael Kay shilling for ESPN while on the air with YES. He also has this observation:

Before Harold Reynolds was sacked by ESPN for sexual harassment - he apparently forgot ESPN employees are permitted to behave in a sexually inappropriate manner only when on the air - several of his colleagues felt his baseball expertise, spoken daily to a national TV audience, was often spoken on behalf of his brother, Larry.

Larry Reynolds heads an agency that reps big leaguers, including Ryan Howard, Torii Hunter, Chad Cordero and Carl Everett. Hmmm.

Then there are those sportscasters who excessively praise (or excuse/ignore the transgressions of) athletes because they have the same agent.

Gee, that would never happen in Boston, would it? (see Blank, Brad, as well as Borges, Ron, and Givens, David) Andrew Marchand reports that with Reynolds out at ESPN, the network is going to move Joe Morgan over to cover the Little League World Series this month. Great, now we’ll learn that all Little Leaguers throw a “cutter” as well. Marchand’s Memo of the Week begs WFAN not to return Sid Rosenberg to the airwaves. Bob Raissman reports on NBC hitching its football wagon (and hopes) to John Madden.

In Philadelphia, Aaron Bracy looks at a new-look morning show for sports radio WIP. He also offers items that were cut out of his column in his bonus coverage blog. With Reggie White going into the Hall of Fame this weekend, Laura Nachman talks to Philly NBC10 sports director (and former Eagles teammate of White) Vai Sikahema about his memories of White. In the same column Nachman reports that Lou Tilley’s departure from CN8/Comcast was not a mutual decision. Bob Smizik reports on the Penguins radio and TV announcers switching roles.

Michael Hiestand in USA Today takes a look at the NBC NFL crew, which he notes has extensive experience across multiple TV networks over the years. He talks to Cris Collinsworth in the piece, who effectively redshirted last season to be able to join NBC.

Chris Zelkovich looks at the Toronto Raptors asking fans to pay to watch 25 of their games in a special “Raptors TV” digital package.

South

Jim Sarni examines how Madden has become the face and voice of the NFL. He also has comments from the NBC crew broadcasting Sunday’s Allstate 400 from the Brickyard in Indianapolis. He also says Talladega Nights will make NASCAR more popular than ever. Dave Darling looks at football coach George O’Leary being featured on “Under the Lights” a Sun Sports production which goes through the ups and downs of the 38 year coaching career of O’Leary. Barry Jackson has more on John Madden and the NFL returning to NBC. He also has an update on former Celtics announcer Howard David, who is announcing the World Series of Poker, and hosting weekend college and NFL football previews on WFTL-850.

David Barron reports that the Houston area will likely not be getting the NFL Network this season, as the conflict continues between the network and Time Warner cable. Barron also remembers long time University of Houston radio voice Mike Edmonds, who passed away this week at the age of 59. Barry Horn also looks at the ugly battle between the NFLN and Time Warner.

Midwest

Teddy Greenstein reports on former ESPN college football analyst Trev Alberts resurfacing at CSTV. Alberts briefly comments on his sudden departure from ESPN but doesn’t really shed much light on what happened there. Greenstein also reports the following:

Mike Kiley probably would term this "shoddy speculation," but the longtime Cubs beat writer for the Sun-Times is out of a job at the paper, and sources say the cause was expense-account irregularity.

He goes on to outline, quite politely I thought, how Kiley was one of the most “competitive” guys on the baseball beat.

Bob Wolfley wonders if the ESPN coverage of the Hall of Fame induction will leave out the more controversial aspects of Reggie White’s life. Dan Caesar in St Louis has updates on the Cardinals and Blue broadcast teams. Judd Zulgad reports on the new home of Twins radio, KSTP(1500 AM) starting the process of getting ready for next season.

West Coast

Jay Posner wonders if the Padres TV announcers were afraid to criticize the team or newly acquired Todd Walker for making two errors at third base (where he hadn’t played since 1997) in his San Diego debut. Larry Stewart has more on Visser being honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and reports that former UCLA coach and 49ers GM is close to signing with Fox Sports for NFL and College Bowl coverage. He also reports on the Ducks moving to a 50,000-watt station. As reported elsewhere in the Times, the Angels could end up following the Ducks to that station. Tom Hoffarth looks at ESPN’s coverage of the 12th edition of the X-Games. He also reports on HBO announcing a “two-hour documentary on the fan-player relationships of the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1940s and ’50s that they’ll air at the All-Star break in July 2007 – coinciding with 60 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and 50 years after the team moved to L.A”, as well as FSN West’s use of the new “X-Mo” super slo-motion camera”.

Jim Carlisle has more on former Adelphia cable customers losing the NFL Network now that Time Warner has taken control of Adelphia. This is affecting consumers all over the country, including parts of New England. Michael Lev has more on Visser, and reminds us that ESPN2 will have live coverage of USA Basketball action in the FIBA World Championships. John Maffei has more on Visser and Madden.

Other Links:

Just back from Vegas, Bill Simmons has another edition of the mailbag.

Tebucky Jones appears to have some deadbeat family members who leech off of him.

Michael Gee continues to leave me wondering how the Herald managed to make him look so bad for so long. In a recent entry about Deion Branch’s holdout, he says:


Not to date myself, but Boston sports used to have a perennial holdout. John Havlicek never signed a contract until the last possible minute, say before the last exhibition game on the schedule. Red Auerbach was perhaps the meanest and most vindictive front office guy in a contract dispute that ever lived. But in Hondo's case, he never seemed to mind the holdouts, or even notice them.

Taking a tip from a master, I've seldom noticed a holdout since.

A couple final sites for football fanatics, Football Outsiders has Part I of a look at the AFC Over-Unders. Cold Hard Football Facts says Warren Moon shouldn’t be a first ballot hall of famer.

Have a great weekend…

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