Ken from Fang’s Bites giving you the Friday megalinks again. We have a lot of them and with the Final Four and the start of the baseball season coming this weekend, there’s a lot of stories dealing with both. So let’s get to the links, but of course, we have the Weekend Viewing Picks.
Of course, the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Detroit is the main menu for viewing this weekend. You have two potentially good games, UConn taking on Michigan State in what is a virtual home game for the Spartans. Then North Carolina faces Villanova in the nightcap. Many are rooting for a Michigan State-Villanova final because of the underdog matchup, plus you have Michigan State playing in their home state, giving Detroit a shot in the arm. And you would have Villanova trying to repeat its upset feat from 1985 when the Wildcats beat Georgetown. CBS and WBZ/WPRI have the tip of the Final Four starting at 6:07 p.m. Saturday. It will also have pregame programming starting at 3:30 p.m.
There’s the Women’s Final Four in St. Louis and just like with the Men, there are two Big East teams playing for a championship. Louisville takes on Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Sunday and then UConn hoping for a perfect season plays Stanford at about 9:30 p.m. ESPN has all of the action on Sunday.
You can see the entire Final Four programming for both Saturday and Sunday in the very last College Basketball Viewing Picks of the season.
After an extended Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic, we finally get some regular season baseball on Sunday as ESPN2 airs the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies raising their 2008 banner just before they take on Atlanta. In an attempt to freshen up a stale announcing team, Steve Phillips will join Jon Miller and Joe Morgan for Sunday Night Baseball. The game broadcast will start at 8 p.m.
The Bruins have another Saturday matinee at the Garden against Original Six rival the New York Rangers. NESN has the game at 1 p.m.
The NHL on NBC finally goes away from the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins and picks up the Minnesota Wild-Detroit Red Wings Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on WHDH in perhaps what could be one of its final days as an NBC affiliate.
The NBA on ESPN has a special Saturday broadcast with the Pistons and a sulking Allen Iverson taking on Philadelphia at 3 p.m. The NBA on ABC has a doubleheader on Sunday.
The last PGA Tour stop before The Masters is the Houston Open. WHDH and 10 NBC has third round coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. and final round coverage on Sunday starting at 3 p.m.
The LPGA is in Rancho Mirage, CA for its first major tournament of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. ESPN2 has third round coverage at 6 p.m. while CBS will come in for final round coverage on Sunday at 3 p.m.
For gearheads, there’s plenty of stuff to watch this weekend. NASCAR is in Texas for the Samsung 500 and Fox25 and Fox 64 have the broadcast starting at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Formula 1 is in Asia for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Speed has the broadcast Sunday morning at 4:30???
And IndyCar Racing is on Versus on Sunday in Florida for the GrandPrix of St. Petersburg at 2 p.m.
Tennis fans have a championship weekend at the Sony Ericsson Open. CBS has the women’s finals on Saturday and the men’s finals on Sunday.
To check out the entire weekend viewing schedule including primetime picks, I have Weekend Viewing Picks in full.
Let’s get to the links.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand broaches a bunch of subjects including MLB Network’s inserting new angles on classic footage, ESPN bringing in Todd McShay to verbally spar with Mel Kiper, Jr. during NFL draft coverage, SportsCenter heading to Lala land, and CBS’ coverage of the Final Four.
SI.com’s Jimmy Traina talks with Awful Announcing’s Brian Powell and he makes a nice mention of Fang’s Bites.
I wrote a column at Digital Sports Daily on my wishlist for TV and radio.
CNBC’s Darren Rovell says Shaquille O’Neal made the Tweet that put companies on notice. Darren looks at the difference in ticket prices for the new stadia for the Yankees and Mets. Darren says if you want a cheap beer at a baseball game, travel to Pittsburgh. And Darren gives credit to the MLB Players Association for starting up a new store at Citi Field.
John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports that Congress wants to look at the NFL’s antitrust exemption which allows the league to collectively negotiate for its TV rights.
Mike Reynolds from Multichannel News and Ben Grossman of Broadcasting & Cable have details of Fox Soccer Channel/Setanta Sports’ joint bid that won the rights to show the UEFA Champions League in the US.
Mike Reynolds writing for solely this time for Multichannel News says March Madness on Demand will have live streaming of the NCAA Men’s Final Four on Saturday.
The Sports Media Watch says the NBA on ABC is on pace to get its best ratings since 2004. SMW says NASCAR’s ratings are sliding off the track. Paujlsen says the Tiger effect came into play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week.
Joe Favorito looks at brands searching for the right sports celebrity spokesman.
East and Mid-Atlantic
David Scott has Bob Ryan’s explanation of what happened to his face.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell from the Boston Globe writes that MLB Network is ready for baseball season.
Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has comments from NESN’s Dennis Eckersley and SNY’s Ron Darling from TBS’ MLB media conference call.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says it took a long time for the Yankees and Mets to get to their stadium debuts on Friday.
The great Neil Best from Newsday talks with new SNY Mets studio analyst Bob Ojeda. Neil has a story on a local teen who was chosen by WFAN to throw out the first pitch at Citi Field on Friday. Neil says Yankees TV announcer Michael Kay will do his 1050 ESPN show live from outside the new Yankee Stadium on gamedays. Neil has some items that didn’t make it into his Friday column.
The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman wants the Yankees to resolve their public address announcer situation. This is what Bob focuses on today? Strange.
Phil Mushnick of the New York Post says the new Yankees and Mets stadia are excesses in greed.
Justin Terranova of the Post talks with YES’ John Flaherty about the Yankees and Mets.
Congrats to Ken McMillan of the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record for the success of his sports media blog and I thank him for the mention.
Laura Nachman says three analysts with Philly connections were nominated for Sports Emmy Awards this week.
Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun has an Orioles media roundup in time for the season opener on Monday.
Roger van der Horst of the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer says Fox Sports Carolinas gypped Hurricane fans on Thursday.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that while Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports will carry every Marlins road game, it comes at the Panthers’ expense.
Dave Darling from the Orlando Sentinel tells us that MLB Network is ready to step up its game for the regular season.
Sentinel sports editor Lynn Hoppes is announcing he’s leaving to become an editor at ESPN.com.
Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News writes that Fox will open its NASCAR coverage from the Cowboys’ new stadium. Nothing like hyping the NFL a few months early.
Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram catches up with Fox NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip in advance of Sunday’s race at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Mel Bracht in the Daily Oklahoman writes that MLB Network is ready to cover all of the bases starting on Monday. Mel looks at the baseball broadcasts that will be available in Oklahoma City this season. And Mel says CBS is going to unveil a new camera at the Final Four.
Marc Katz of the Dayton Daily News writes that the minor league Dragons are looking forward to their TV coverage this season.
Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press says one announcer returns to his roots this season.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob Wolfley talks with the new broadcast partner for the Brewers’ Bob Uecker.
Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business writes that in a sign of the times, the Chicago Daily Herald will not cover the Cubs or the White Sox on the road. Ed says Comcast SportsNet Chicago will have both the Cubs and White Sox season openers on the same day for the first time.
Paul Christian in the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says ESPN’s Jon Miller and Steve Phillips like the Twins’ chances this season.
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says ESPN’s Trey Wingo returns to the Gateway City this weekend for the Women’s Final Four after leaving back in 1997 for Bristol, CT.
Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News feels the local CBS affiliate could do better producing the Real Salt Lake games.
Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic talks with Diamondbacks play-by-play man Daron Sutton about the upcoming season.
Jay Posner from the San Diego Union-Tribune says the new Padres play-by-play man is making a major transition.
John Maffei in the North County Times says the raised court at Ford Field could cause some problems for CBS’ Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg during the Final Four.
Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star wonders if viewers will notice the difference with the new West Coast-produced 10 p.m. PT SportsCenter. And Jim says CBS enters this weekend’s Final Four very happy over its ratings for the NCAA Tournament.
The Los Angeles Times’ Diane Pucin writes that CBS is trying to ensure this year’s Final Four is loud.
To the San Jose Mercury News in which John Ryan tells us that Comcast SportsNet will have former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown co-host a new 49ers post game show.
And that concludes the Friday megalinks.