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SEE IT: Ron Kulpa’s Blown Call at First Base Alters Game 3 of the World Series PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 22 October 2011 20:48

It seems that every World Series, there are critical blown calls by the umpires. For the 2011 World Series, Ron Kulpa’s blown call at first base in the top of the fourth inning of Game 3 from Texas, might be a defining moment.

With the Cardinals up 1-0, Matt Holliday grounded into what should have been a double-play. Instead, Albert Pujols was out at second, and Ian Kinsler's throw was wide to Mike Napoli at first base. Napoli applied a swipe tag on Holliday, and tagged him a full step before the Cardinal outfielder made it to the bag. Instead of calling him out, umpire Ron Kulpa called Holliday safe. From there, the inning went south.

Instead of two outs and no runners on, Lance Berkman cleanly singles to move Holliday to second. Freese then doubles on a sharp grounder, pushing Holliday across the plate, moving the score to 2-0.

One play can alter an inning, or a game. As of publishing, it’s 5-3 Cardinals at the end of 4 innings of play.

See for yourself if Kulpa blew the call. Not even close. Bud Selig is at the game tonight. You think he'll get asked about whether there needs to be increased instant replay in baseball?

Ron Kupla's blown call

Thanks to Daniel Matthews via Twitter


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Theo Epstein Officially Leaves Red Sox to Become President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 21 October 2011 23:34

Theo EpsteinThe matter stretched out longer than they wanted, required Commissioner Selig to intervene, and may be the biggest non-player transaction in baseball in years, but late Friday the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs jointly announced that, effective immediately, General Manager Theo Epstein has resigned from the Red Sox in order to become the new President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs. A key bone of contention, and the matter that stalled the deal from quietly getting done, the two clubs also have reached an agreement regarding a process by which appropriate compensation will be determined for the Red Sox in exchange for Epstien, who had one more year left on his contract. The sides would only say that issue will be resolved in the "near term".

Both the Red Sox and the Cubs intend to hold press events this coming Tuesday during which the Cubs intend to announce Epstein, and the Red Sox intend to announce his successor as General Manager. The replacement is expected to be an in-house affair with Assistant GM Ben Cherington being promoted to the vacancy.

The media churn has been sitting on the front pages of the Boston and Chicago papers and created a major distraction for the league during the Fall Classic. Normally, such announcements would be held off until after the season ended, but with all the interest, and the need for Selig to help negotiate a compromise deal, word began to leak out earlier in the week that a deal to allow Epstein to move to the Cubs would be announced Friday. Out of respect for the World Series, both clubs have agreed to forego further comment until this coming Tuesday, the next scheduled non-game day with further information on each club’s media availability for Tuesday will be distributed on Monday.

After missing the playoffs two straight years and seeing a historic collapse in the last month of the regular season, manager Terry Francona’s contract was not renewed, word surfaced that some of the pitchers were drinking beer in the clubhouse during games they were not scheduled to pitch. Epstein was looking to garner more power, and more importantly, insulation from the turbulence at the GM position. With the Red Sox not having a position of President of Baseball Operations available, and the club not looking to create one, the Cubs had reached out to see if Epstein was available.

For the Cubs, it marks a coup of sorts, that is not yet fully done. It’s been reported that former Red Sox assistant GM, and current Padres General Manager, Jed Hoyer is being targeted for the Cubs GM position.

RELATED CONTENT

How Long Before Theo Epstein Can Turn Around the Cubs?


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Side-Effect of Astros to AL Will Be Daily Interleague Play in MLB PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 21:43

InteleagueBy now, most have heard about the delay in voting to approve Jim Crane as the new owner of the Houston Astros. Part of the sale is the fact that MLB and the MLBPA want to see expanded playoffs in 2013 and need to balance out the NL and AL with 15 teams a piece.

To make that happen, the Astros are being asked (prodded?) into jumping into the AL, something that Crane and his large ownership group believes they should be compensated for to the tune of a reported $50 million.

Some will say, “So what? I could care a less as I’m not an Astros or a fan of an AL West team.”

Here’s why nearly everyone will care…

With the jump to 15 teams per league, to deal with the odd numbers in each league, there will be an interleague game played every day of the season. That’s right, you not only will get the short stretch of interleague in the first half of the season, the longer stretch in the summer, and a game every single day of the season.

So, for the purists that never have taken a liking to those two interleague stretches each year, you’ll have to hear about it daily.

The expanded playoffs aren’t coming until 2013, so you’ll have to wait at least another season. But take it in… interleague is coming in April… and May… and August… and September… and… and…


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Report: Jim Crane Seeking $50M Discount to Move Astros to AL PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 11:38

Jim CraneProspective Astros owner Jim Crane is seeking a $50 million discount on the $680 million sale of the Houston Astros as compensation for moving the team to the American League, according to a report in today’s NY Post.

The want for a discount surrounds the newly created regional sports network in partnership with the Houston Rockets and Comcast that will air Rockets games in 2012 (provided new labor agreement is reached) and Astros games in 2013. Crane has said that due to the later start times in the AL West, viewership will be impacted. The league has pointed to the rivalry involving the Texas Rangers, and interest in Yankees and Red Sox games that would come from AL East games with the Astros.

The report adds that Commissioner Selig feels they are “in the ballpark” on the compensation. There are still concerns by the owners regarding past workplace issues at Crane’s companies including discrimination and war-profiteering, both of which are said to be matters of sensitivity for Selig, as well as several of the owners. A vote to approve Crane requires 75% of the owners to agree. The votes were not there in August when the last owners meetings took place, but there is momentum that vote will take place as part of the Nov. 15-16 meetings.

Even if there were a $20-$30 million reduction in the sale price, it would still rank as the second-highest all-time sale price for an MLB franchise behind only the Cubs at $845 million. That deal included Wrigley Field and a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The sale of the Texas Rangers, through a bankruptcy auction process, garnered $593 million.

Crane has now met with Selig to discuss the issues surrounding discrimination and war-profiteering, and late last week flew to meet with MLB execs around the move to the AL. While one source cited in the NY Post article believes there is a 60-70% chance of Crane’s approval, depending on the outcome of the current negotiations it seems near certain that Crane will be approved in mid-November.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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2011 MLB League Division Series on Pace to Be Second Most Attended PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 07 October 2011 00:00

Yes, it’s already been a competitive postseason. While the Rays got only pulled off one win against the Rangers, the 2011 Division Series will have 19 out of a possible 20 games played, marking the most games played in the opening round since its inception in 1995. In addition, three Division Series will play a decisive fifth game for just the second time in Division Series history, joining 2001. The previous record of 18 Division Series games played occurred in 2001 and 2003.

With the Tigers beating the Yankees tonight to advance to the ALCS against the Rangers, Major League Baseball has drawn 764,950 in paid attendance through 17 games during the 2011 Division Series (Game 5 between the Tigers and Yankees drew 50,960 on Thursday night), which is on pace to become the second-highest attended Division Series in history and the fourth to eclipse the 800,000 mark. The all-time Division Series attendance record of 884,897 fans was set in 2003, while the total of 800,000 was also topped in 2001 (846,112) and 2004 (842,571).

Commissioner Selig was quick to jump on the news.

“Major League Baseball continues to build upon a remarkable regular season with four Division Series that have provided many unforgettable moments,” said Selig. “The competitiveness of our sport has never been more evident than it is now and all of us at Baseball join the fans in their excitement as the dramatic opening round comes to a close.”

The American League Championship Series between the Tigers and Yankees will be covered by FOX Sports, will begin on Saturday, October 8th and a Game Seven, if necessary, is scheduled for Sunday, October 16th. The National League Championship Series, to be covered by TBS, will start on Sunday, October 9th and a Game Seven, if necessary, is scheduled for Monday, October 17th.

Game One of the 2011 World Series is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19th. Game Three of the 2011 Fall Classic will move to the city of the American League Champions on Saturday, October 22nd. A Game Seven of the World Series is scheduled for Thursday, October 27th. Friday, October 21st and Tuesday, October 25th are the scheduled off days during the World Series. In its 16th season as the official network broadcaster of Major League Baseball, FOX Sports will present exclusive live telecast coverage of the World Series.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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After Postponement Due to Rain, MLB Releases Updated Division Series Schedule PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 30 September 2011 23:23

MLB released times for Sunday’s three Division Series games that have been updated due to tonight’s suspended game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Tonight's suspended game will be resumed on Saturday, October 1st at 8:37 p.m.  Play will continue at the point at which the game was left off prior to the suspension, with the Yankees batting in the bottom of the second inning.  The suspension of tonight’s game reflects the January 2009 rule amendment by the Major League Clubs, providing that all Postseason games become suspended games if they are called, regardless of how many innings have been played or the score at the time the game is called. (The Major League Rules affected include 25(a), 33(c), 35(b), 37(b) and 39.)  A suspended game is resumed and played to completion at the same site.

Sunday’s Game Two of the ALDS between Detroit and New York will now begin at 3:07 p.m. (ET) and will air on TNT.  In addition, Game Two of the National League Division Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park has been shifted from a 4:37 p.m. (ET)/3:37 p.m. (CT) first pitch to 5:07 p.m. (ET)/4:07 p.m. (CT) first pitch and Game Two of the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies has been shifted from an 8:07 p.m. (ET) first pitch to an 8:37 p.m. (ET) first pitch.

[Subject to change]

Date

Match-Up (ALL GAMES ON TBS/TNT)

Time (ET/Site Time)

Sat., Oct. 1st

Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers, NLDS Game 1

2:07 p.m./1:07 p.m.

 

St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies, NLDS Game 1

5:07 p.m.

 

On TNT: Tampa Bay Rays @ Texas Rangers, ALDS Game 2

7:07 p.m./6:07 p.m.

 

Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees, ALDS Game 1 Resumption

8:37 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 2nd

On TNT: Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees, ALDS Game 2

3:07 p.m.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers, NLDS Game 2

5:07 p.m./4:07 p.m.

 

St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies, NLDS Game 2

8:37 p.m.

Mon., Oct. 3rd

Texas Rangers @ Tampa Bay Rays, ALDS Game 3

5:07 p.m.

 

New York Yankees @ Detroit Tigers, ALDS Game 3

8:37 p.m.

Source: Major League Baseball


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Terry Francona Officially Departs the Boston Red Sox PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 30 September 2011 17:45

Terry Francona

Word came last night that after a monumental collapse at the end of the season by the Red Sox, that Terry Francona’s contract would not be renewed.

And while earlier today, no decision had been made by Theo Epstein, the ownership of the Red Sox, and Francona, now, he has decided to leave. The man that broke an 86 year World Series Championship drought in 2004, and won another in 2007, is officially history in Beantown.

In a statement, John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino – the ownership of the Red Sox – said:

“We met with Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington Friday morning to discuss the 2011 season, ways to improve the club in the future, and Tito’s status.  During the meeting, Tito, Theo and Ben agreed that the Red Sox would benefit from an improved clubhouse culture and higher standards in several areas.  Tito said that after eight years here he was frustrated by his difficulty making an impact with the players, that a different voice was needed, and that it was time for him to move on.  After taking time to reflect on Tito’s sentiments, we agreed that it was best for the Red Sox not to exercise the option years on his contract.

We have enormous respect, admiration and appreciation for Tito and the job that he did for eight years, including two World Series Championship seasons and five playoff appearances.  His poise during the 2004 post-season was a key factor in the greatest comeback in baseball history, and his place in Red Sox history will never be forgotten.  We wish him only the best going forward.”

Said Francona, “We met this morning to look back on the 2011 season and to consider the future of the Boston Red Sox, including my involvement with the club.  I passed along my frustrations at my inability to effectively reach the players.  After many conversations and much consideration, I ultimately felt that, out of respect to this team, it was time for me to move on.  I’ve always maintained that it is not only the right, but the obligation, of ownership to have the right person doing this job.  I told them that out of my enormous respect for this organization and the people in it, they may need to find a different voice to lead the team.

In my eight seasons as manager of the Boston Red Sox, I have developed a tremendous appreciation for Red Sox Nation.  This is a special place with some of the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in all of baseball.  They packed Fenway Park for every game and because of them, I had a special sense of pride coming to work every day.  I want to thank John, Tom, Larry and Theo for giving me the opportunity to manage this team through some of the most successful years in this franchise’s history.  I wish the entire organization and all of Red Sox Nation nothing but the very best.”

Theo Epstein issued a statement as well saying, ““Tito and I didn’t know each other when he was hired eight years ago, but over time we developed not only a great working relationship but also a personal friendship that will always be important to both of us.  He proved to be an unflappable leader for our major league club, displaying consistency, calmness, hard work, thoughtfulness, a sense of humor, and faith in the players even at the most difficult of times.  Without Tito’s commitment over eight years, we would not be the organization we are today.  Nobody at the Red Sox blames Tito for what happened at the end of this season; we own that as an organization.  This year was certainly a difficult and draining one for him and for us.  Ultimately, he decided that there were certain things that needed to be done that he couldn’t do after eight years here, and that this team would benefit from hearing a new voice.  While this may be true, his next team will benefit more than it knows from hearing Tito’s voice.  I will miss seeing Tito every day in the manager’s office, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best in their next chapter.”

In eight years with the Red Sox, Francona amassed a 744-552 record (.574) winning two pennants and two World Series titles. In 12 years dating back to 1997 when he also managed the Phillies for four seasons, “Tito” has a 1029 and 915 record (.529).


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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UPDATE: Red Sox Make No Decision on Terry Francona's Future PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 30 September 2011 00:09

Francona

Maybe it’s just time. Maybe, ownership has said we need a change. Whatever the case, Terry Francona, who guide the Red Sox to two World Series Championships, but just witnessed his team miss the playoffs for the second year in a row in epic fashion, was expected to leave Boston, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The announcement was expected Friday. According to Rosenthal:

While Francona’s departure is not certain, it is the likely outcome, in part because he is pressing for a resolution, sources say. He would not be fired; the Red Sox would simply decline their club options on him for 2012 and ’13.

At that point, Francona would be free to pursue long-term contracts with other clubs. The White Sox’s position currently is open, and Francona managed five seasons in their minor-league system in the early 1990s.

The Cubs could be another possibility for Francona once they hire a new general manager and proceed with the expected dismissal of manager Mike Quade. Francona played for the Cubs in 1986.

While those are possible managerial destinations, it’s uncertain that he wants them, or if he needs to take the position. He did, however, managed for five years in the White Sox minor league system and is a former player for the Cubs.

However, today when the Red Sox met with Francona, they put the move on hold. Theo Espstein released a statement through the Red Sox reading:

“John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington and I met with Terry Francona this morning at Fenway Park to exchange thoughts and information on the 2011 season and discuss areas for improvement going forward. We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement.”

In eight years with the Red Sox, Francona has amassed a 744-552 record (.574) winning two pennants and two World Series titles. In 12 years dating back to 1997 when he managed the Phillies for four seasons, “Tito” has a 1029 and 915 record (.529).


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

Follow Maury Brown on Twitter Twitter

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Mariners, Athletics to Open 2012 MLB Season in Japan PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 14:42

MLBIn a sign that MLB and the MLBPA are close to reaching a new labor agreement, major events for the upcoming 2012 season are already being announced.

Case in point, the league will open its season in Tokyo, Japan for the fourth time when the Athletics will play Mariners in Japan Opening Series 2012, a two-game set scheduled for March 28 and 29.

Japan Opening Series 2012 will mark the first MLB season opener in Japan since the Boston Red Sox and Athletics played at the Tokyo Dome in 2008. Since 1999, ten MLB Clubs (Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics) have participated in international openers.

On top of the games, the league and PA announced that they will be dedicated to assisting in the rebuilding efforts across Japan with more details coming in the following weeks. The following is the tentative schedule of events:

Date                                     Game                                             Venue

Wednesday, March 28     Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics*     Tokyo Dome

Thursday, March 29        Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics*     Tokyo Dome

*The Athletics will be the home team and the Mariners the visitor for both MLB Championship Season games. Start times will be determined at a later date.

“Major League Baseball is very pleased to give Japanese fans a chance to see the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, two franchises with great popularity in Japan,” said Commissioner Selig. “Opening Series 2012 will be an excellent opportunity to bring the game of baseball to fans across the globe and to celebrate the many contributions to the game by Japanese players. Most importantly, with the shared love of baseball between our nations, I believe that we can use this event to further assist the ongoing relief efforts throughout Japan.”

“We are honored to open the 2012 season in Japan. The opening series provides Major League players with an opportunity to use baseball – a sport cherished and revered by both our nations – to help our Japanese friends continue their recovery from the devastating tsunami,” said MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner. “Major League players look forward to playing before some of the world’s most passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans, and we appreciate the support of Nippon Professional Baseball and Yomiuri for helping make this series possible.”

“The Seattle Mariners are proud to represent Major League Baseball and open the 2012 regular season in Japan against the Oakland Athletics,” said Mariners President Chuck Armstrong. “More Mariners games have been televised in Japan over the past ten years than any other MLB team, so the fans there will be familiar with us. This will be a memorable experience for our players and our organization.”

“The Oakland A’s are honored and privileged to participate in this season-opening series,” said Oakland A's President Michael Crowley. “We were fortunate to make our first visit to Japan in 2008 and still remember fondly the warm reception we received from the fans, the host teams, and the people of Japan. We’re very excited about returning next season.”

Overall, more than 875,000 fans have attended 21 MLB Opening Series games in Monterrey, Mexico (Rockies vs. Padres – 1999), Tokyo, Japan (Mets vs. Cubs – 2000, Yankees vs. Rays – 2004, Red Sox vs. Athletics – 2008), and San Juan, Puerto Rico (Rangers vs. Blue Jays – 2001).

Upon conclusion of Japan Opening Series 2012, the Mariners and Athletics will travel back to the United States to complete an abbreviated exhibition schedule before resuming their Championship Season schedules.

Organizers of Japan Opening Series 2012 include MLB, MLBPA, NPB and Yomiuri. Further details on all of the games and events surrounding Japan Opening Series 2012 will be announced at a later date.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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