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MLB Network Releases Spring Training Broadcast Schedule Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 16:28

MLB NetworkMLB Network today announced its Spring Training broadcast schedule, which will feature 61 games -- 45 of which will be live -- featuring all 30 Major League clubs and including three World Baseball Classic exhibition games (subject to blackout in local markets, only where necessary). MLB Network's Spring Training schedule begins on Wednesday, February 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET with San Francisco at Cleveland live from Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz. All games will be simulcasts of local broadcasts, including local announcers. MLB Tonight will air for one hour every night, containing news, analysis and highlights.

Highlights of the broadcast schedule include:
  • Feb 28, 1:00 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Rays @ Philadelphia Phillies (2008 World Series rematch)
  • March 1, 5:00 p.m. ET: Chicago White Sox @ Los Angeles Dodgers (first game at Camelback Ranch - Glendale, the new Spring Training home for both teams)
  • March 3, 1:00 p.m. ET: Team USA @ New York Yankees (World Baseball Classic exhibition game, also Derek Jeter's first career game played against the Yankees)
  • April 3, 7:00 p.m. ET: Chicago Cubs @ New York Yankees (first ever game at new Yankee Stadium)
  • April 4, 1:00 p.m. ET: Boston Red Sox @ New York Mets (second game ever at CitiField)

"We're all excited for the start of baseball season, and we wanted to give fans as many Spring Training games as possible, featuring every single club," said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network. "We're also happy to be able to give a national audience its first look at the new Mets and Yankees parks, as well as an early look at some of the World Baseball Classic teams through those exhibition games."

Select Read More to see the full MLB Network Spring Training broadcast schedule

Read more...
 
Restructuring of MLB Blackout Policy Becoming More Remote Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 05 February 2009 01:01

MLB Blackout Map

MLB's blackout map is a confusing case
of overlapping territories.
(CLICK TO SEE IN LARGER VIEW)

Two months from today, the 2009 regular season for Major League Baseball will get underway, and with it, fans will reach for their remotes (and wallets) to watch out-of-market games via MLB Extra Innings.

But, for several recent owners meetings, the topic of restructuring the television blackout policy for the league has been met with calls for tabling the matter, or as it was at last month’s meetings, pushed off the agenda entirely by more pressing matters for the owners, such as the gloomy state of the economy.

The chances of any movement on the blackout policy becomes ever more remote as the season approaches, and owners deal with a case of tunnel vision regarding economic factors. To place this in perspective, the last owners meetings had George Will talk about the economy, while the blackout policy took a back seat.

Word is that MLB hopes to have a proposal to address the arcane blackout policy formulated by opening day. With owners grasping onto every thin dime, odds seem exceptionally long that restructuring the television territories will take place by the time the first pitch arrives on the 2009 season. MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy has said that the proposal being presented would have a club lose a portion of their television territory, if they have not broadcast within it for over a year.

(Select the map provided to see the MLB blackout territories in larger view)

The potential problem with this model deals with what are called “haircut provisions” – advertising agreements that are tied to audience size. So, in principle, even though a club may not be broadcasting in an area of their granted television territory, the total audience size is still considered within it. Removing the areas not being broadcasted to would, ostensibly, make the audience size smaller, thus impacting ad deals.

The sad reality for those living outside of the markets where their favorite team broadcasts is that odds are very good that this year – like the year before, and the year before that – will have the same MLB blackout policy that has aggravated fans shelling out nearly $200 each season with the idea that they will be able to “catch all the action.” Fans, it’s the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs, and the count 0-2. Time to don your rally caps.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Bob Costas Joins MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 03 February 2009 15:55

Bob CostasMLB Network today announced that Bob Costas has joined its roster of on-air talent, effective immediately. As part of a multi-year deal, MLB Network will be the exclusive cable home for Costas, who will host special original programming with an emphasis on the game’s history and its most significant figures and topics, and serve as the lead play by play commentator for a select number of MLB Network’s slate of 26 live regular season games. Costas, fresh off hosting NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII coverage, will maintain all his current duties at NBC, including his role as host of their Olympic and NFL coverage.

Costas today will interview Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Joe Torre for a new one hour program titled, MLB Network Studio 42 with Bob Costas that is scheduled to air in its entirety on Thursday, February 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET, immediately following live coverage of the Caribbean World Series. MLB Network launched on January 1 in approximately 50 million homes as the largest network debut in cable history.

“In addition to being one of the preeminent sports broadcasters of his generation, Bob also cares very deeply about the game of baseball,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “We’re glad to reunite him with the game he loves most and look forward to the exciting television he and MLB Network will create together in the years to come.”

“I’m especially enthused about the type of programming we’ll be able to create at MLB Network, a mix of historical pieces, documentary-style programming, interviews and play-by-play -- all the things I most enjoy, and it’s all baseball,” said Costas.

 “Bob showed us all on January 1 how his presence can truly elevate a broadcast, and we plan to tap into his unique abilities and perspective to build more high-caliber programming in the future,” said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network. “In addition to the studio show, we’re also looking forward to Bob’s return to the broadcast booth, where he’s been part of so many memorable moments in baseball over the years.”

Costas played a major role in the debut of MLB Network on January 1 by hosting a special interview with Don Larsen and Yogi Berra which was interspersed throughout the airing of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, which appeared on television for the first time since its original broadcast.

Costas has been honored as Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association a record eight times. He also won the Sports Emmy for “Outstanding Studio Host” every year from 2002-2006, and has won 19 Emmy’s over a 30-year career. His previous baseball work includes NBC’s Saturday Game of the Week during the 1980’s with Tony Kubek and NBC’s All-Star, Playoff, and World Series coverage from 1994 through 2000. In 2000, Costas wrote the critically acclaimed best selling book Fair Ball: A Fan’s Case for Baseball.

A 29-year veteran of NBC Sports, Costas has hosted eight Olympics including the recent Summer Games in Beijing, and has been prominently involved over the years in numerous World Series, Super Bowl and NBA Finals broadcasts on the network. He is the host of NBC’s Sunday evening NFL program, “Football Night in America,” as well as hosting special events such as the Kentucky Derby and U.S. Open Golf Championships.

From 2001 through 2008, Costas had a prominent role at HBO Sports, where he hosted “Inside the NFL” and his own highly respected programs, “On The Record With Bob Costas,” later renamed “Costas Now.”

Costas joins MLB Network’s growing roster of on-air talent, including studio hosts Matt Vasgersian, Victor Rojas and Greg Amsinger, studio analysts Sean Casey, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter, Joe Magrane, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams, reporters Trenni Kusnierek and Hazel Mae, and baseball insiders Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci.

MLB Network and Costas have scheduled a 5pm ET media conference call. Look for an update on this story then.

(Read the Bob Costas interview with The Biz of Baseball)

Source: MLB Network

 
Live Baseball Comes to Televison Today Via Caribbean World Series Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 02 February 2009 15:05

MLB NetworkBelieve it or not, live baseball will be coming to television today as the Caribbean World Series gets underway. Twelve games can be seen on MLB Network, the first live games to be broadcast on the fledgling all-baseball channel. The games, being played in Mexicali, Mexico, run from today (Feb2) through Feb. 7th.  

Gary Fraley of The Sporting News has several key storylines to watch in the CWS, including free agent Ivan Rodriguez, who is batting 3rd and catching for Ponce (Puerto Rico). Another story is rigthhander Javier Vazquez who went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA for 12 innings during two starts for Ponce in the championship round. Vazquez was recently acquired by the Braves.

Below is the entire broadcast schedule, along with announcers for the Caribbean World Series on MLB Network.

Caribbean World Series on MLB Network: Schedule and Announcing Teams (all times ET):

Date/TimeGamePlay-by-Play/Color
Mon., 2/2, 5:00pmVenezuela vs. Dominican RepublicMota & Rojas
Mon., 2/2, 10:00pmPuerto Rico vs. MexicoMcCarthy & Berenguer
Tue., 2/3, 5:00pmDominican Republic vs. Puerto RicoMota & Rojas
Tue., 2/3, 9:00pmMexico vs. VenezuelaMcCarthy & Berenguer
Wed., 2/4, 5:00pmVenezuela vs. Puerto RicoMota & Rojas
Wed., 2/4, 9:00pmMexico vs. Dominican RepublicBerenguer & Plesac
Thu., 2/5, 5:00pmDominican Republic vs. VenezuelaMota & Rojas
Thu., 2/5, 9:00pmMexico vs. Puerto RicoMcCarthy & Berenguer
Fri., 2/6, 5:00pmPuerto Rico vs. Dominican RepublicMota & Rojas
Fri., 2/6, 9:00pmVenezuela vs. MexicoMcCarthy & Berenguer
Sat., 2/7, 5:00pmPuerto Rico vs. VenezuelaMota & Rojas
Sat., 2/7, 9:00pmDominican Republic vs. MexicoBerenguer & Plesac

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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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MLB Network to Broadcast Caribbean World Series Beginning Feb. 2 Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 29 January 2009 16:05

MLB NetworkMLB Network today announced the broadcast schedule and announcing teams for its coverage of the Caribbean World Series, from February 2 through February 7, scheduled to be played in Mexicali, Mexico. The telecast of the Caribbean World Series will mark the first live games telecast on MLB Network, which launched on January 1, 2009.

MLB Network will televise a total of 12 games of the winter tournament, otherwise known as "La Serie del Caribe," and will also air game highlights, preview match-ups and provide extensive coverage as part of its studio show, Hot Stove. The on-air announcing teams will feature play-by-play by Uri Berenguer, a veteran of the Boston Red Sox Spanish language broadcast team, Tom McCarthy, the television play-by-play voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and Jose Mota, a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim broadcast team, with color commentary by Berenguer, MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac and Cookie Rojas, the Spanish language television analyst for the Florida Marlins. Berenguer and Rojas have both worked on Caribbean World Series broadcasts in previous years.

Caribbean World Series on MLB Network: Schedule and Announcing Teams (all times ET):

Date/TimeGamePlay-by-Play/Color
Mon., 2/2, 5:00pmVenezuela vs. Dominican RepublicMota & Rojas
Mon., 2/2, 10:00pmPuerto Rico vs. MexicoMcCarthy & Berenguer
Tue., 2/3, 5:00pmDominican Republic vs. Puerto RicoMota & Rojas
Tue., 2/3, 9:00pmMexico vs. VenezuelaMcCarthy & Berenguer
Wed., 2/4, 5:00pmVenezuela vs. Puerto RicoMota & Rojas
Wed., 2/4, 9:00pmMexico vs. Dominican RepublicBerenguer & Plesac
Thu., 2/5, 5:00pmDominican Republic vs. VenezuelaMota & Rojas
Thu., 2/5, 9:00pmMexico vs. Puerto RicoMcCarthy & Berenguer
Fri., 2/6, 5:00pmPuerto Rico vs. Dominican RepublicMota & Rojas
Fri., 2/6, 9:00pmVenezuela vs. MexicoMcCarthy & Berenguer
Sat., 2/7, 5:00pmPuerto Rico vs. VenezuelaMota & Rojas
Sat., 2/7, 9:00pmDominican Republic vs. MexicoBerenguer & Plesac

"With Spring Training around the corner, we're all excited to see some live baseball, and the rich history of the Caribbean World Series makes it a perfect fit for MLB Network," said Tony Petitti, MLB Network President and CEO (see The Biz of Baseball interview with Petitti). "An international event featuring many Major League players and top prospects, the Caribbean World Series should help whet fans' appetites for next month's World Baseball Classic as well."

Since 1949, the Caribbean World Series, a 12-game round robin tournament between the best teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, has crowned a champion within this group of nations, and has served as a platform to showcase the best competition of Winter League Baseball. Major League players who have participated in the Caribbean World Series include legends such as Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt and Fernando Valenzuela; and active Major League players such as Pedro Martinez, Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Rodriguez, and Miguel Cabrera, among others. The Caribbean World Series is sanctioned by Major League Baseball. Cultiva Entertainment is the exclusive agent for the Caribbean World Series.

Source: MLB Network


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Red Sox 1B Sean Casey to Retire, Join MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 26 January 2009 02:07
Sean Casey

After twelve seasons in MLB, “The Mayor” is retiring.

Free agent first baseman Sean Casey has decided to hang it up in favor of joining the MLB Network on-air talent staff. The 34-year-old Casey will retire with his final team being the Boston Red Sox. Casey made the announcement official on radio station WEEI 850 in Boston on Sunday.

Over twelve years he played for the Indians, Reds, Pirates, Tigers, and Red Sox. The bulk of his career was with the Reds (1998-2005) and he was an All-Star in 1999, 2001, and 2004.

Over 12 seasons he averaged .302, 1531 Hits, with 735 RBIs, and 130 HRs. He hit .322 in 69 games for the Red Sox last season.

Casey joins a glut of former players that have joined the new MLB Network, including Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter, Barry Larkin, Mitch Williams, and Don Plesac.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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On Baseball Prospectus: More on the Value of MLB Network Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 23 January 2009 12:56
Baseball Prospectus


 On Monday, I published a lengthy article going into the value of MLB Advanced Media and the new MLB Network (see Understanding the Real Value of MLBAM and MLB Network) delving into how these two centralized pieces bolster MLB’s bottom line.

Shawn Hoffman of the excellent Squawking Baseball adds even more to the conversation on Baseball Prospectus (see Cut Out: Why Players Won't Be Getting a Piece of the MLBN Pie). As Hoffman writes:

Based on the individual team data from 2002-2008, there is a .71 r-squared coefficient between a team's gate revenue in one year and its Opening Day payroll the next. This means that 71 percent of the variation in Opening Day payrolls can be explained by gate receipts alone. Needless to say, this is a very significant number, although it shouldn't come as a surprise. Spending money on player payroll generally helps teams win, and when a team wins, its attendance and ticket prices will rise. The two are inextricably linked, both in theory and in practice.

He then adds:

Don't be surprised if this turns into a collective bargaining issue at some point down the road. [MLB Network] and Advanced Media will likely bring in $700-800 million in revenue this year, and the players are mostly being shut out.

Commenting on this, MLBN and MLBAM are not aspects of collective bargaining. Deals have been brokered between the MLBPA and BAM, most notably the 2005 deal valued in excess of $50 million that extends beyond the expiration of the last collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. That deal gave MLBAM the exclusive rights to use, and to sublicense to others, Major League Baseball player group rights for the development and creation of on-line games, all other online content, including fantasy baseball and interactive games, as well as all wireless applications including cell-phone enabled games. The deal became the center of what was deemed the Fantasy Stats case, which made its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where they declined to hear the case and favored the Fantasy Sports industry.

Still, Hoffman is correct that the two centralized media holdings are valuable assets to MLB and their owners. Something needed to offset possible losses at the local level as the downturned economy continues its grip on revenues across all industries, MLB included. Great article that I highly suggest reading.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Tonight: WBC Rosters Announced, Documentary on Negro Leagues Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 19 January 2009 17:56

WBC

MLB Network will broadcast the
WBC rosters tonight,

Tonight sees two programming notes of interest on MLB Network

MLB Network will air the WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC TONIGHT ROSTER SPECIAL at 6:00 p.m. ET, to announce the provisional rosters for the 2009 tournament. The one hour special will include live interviews with special guests featuring Team USA Manager Davey Johnson, as well as participating World Baseball Classic players Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers and Carlos Delgado and David Wright of the New York Mets. The 2009 World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, which will take place from March 5 to March 23, 2009.

The documentary Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues, will be airing at 9:00 p.m. ET. This never-before aired one-hour special is narrated by Hall of Famer and Negro Leagues advocate Dave Winfield. Debuting on the eve of President-elect Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, the documentary will depict the history of African Americans in the Negro Leagues and 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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB Network to Broadcast WBC Roster Special Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 16 January 2009 19:10

MLB NetworkMLB Network will air the WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC TONIGHT ROSTER SPECIAL on Monday, January 19 at 6:00 p.m. ET, to announce the provisional rosters for the 2009 tournament. The one hour special will include live interviews with special guests featuring Team USA Manager Davey Johnson, as well as participating World Baseball Classic players Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers and Carlos Delgado and David Wright of the New York Mets. The 2009 World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, which will take place from March 5 to March 23, 2009.

MLB Network’s live WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC TONIGHT ROSTER SPECIAL will reveal the provisional rosters for each of the participating teams, which will feature the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. MLB Network on-air talent Greg Amsinger, Barry Larkin, Harold Reynolds and special host, former Major League Baseball player Alex Gonzalez, will provide detailed analysis and commentary regarding each 2009 player, team and bracket. The show will also feature special guests including Granderson -- who in October 2008 became the first current MLB player to tour China promoting the game of baseball with trips to Shanghai and Beijing -- Wright, Delgado and Johnson. Coverage will also include special footage of players and a recap of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006. MLB Network will also broadcast 16 World Baseball Classic games throughout March.

“MLB Network’s coverage of the World Baseball Classic provisional roster is another way we are working to build special programming around specific announcements and events,” said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network. “Viewers will come to us as a source of timely information presented in a unique way.”

The live 6:00 p.m. ET show on Monday, January 19 will be immediately followed by Hot Stove at 7:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network will replay the 2009 WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC TONIGHT ROSTER SPECIAL at 10:00 p.m. ET and plans to air a second, live show once the final 2009 World Baseball Classic roster is confirmed in February. MLB Network will also air extensive coverage throughout the 2009 World Baseball Classic tournament, including a series of live shows prior to and during the tournament.

Participating Teams and First-Round Schedules:

Pool A - China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea, from March 5-9 in Tokyo.

Pool B - Australia, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa, from March 8-12 in Mexico City.

Pool C - Canada, Italy, the U.S. and Venezuela, from March 7-11 in Toronto.

Pool D - Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico, from March 7-11 in Puerto Rico.

Source: MLB Network


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB Network to Broadcast Documentary on Negro Leagues Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 12:03

Negro League All-Stars

MLB Network will broadcast a special documentary
on the Negro Leagues, to coincide with Martin
Luther King, Jr. Day, and the eve of President-
elect Barack Obama’s historic inauguration.

MLB Network announced today that it will pay tribute to the Negro Leagues with the debut documentary Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues, airing at 9:00 p.m. ET on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 19. This never before aired one-hour special is narrated by Hall of Famer and Negro Leagues advocate Dave Winfield. Debuting on the eve of President-elect Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, the documentary will depict the history of African Americans in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball.

Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues will feature the history of Negro Leagues baseball players in the early half of the century leading up to the modern era’s African-American Major League Baseball players. Produced by Major League Baseball Productions, Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues, will showcase rarely seen footage from the 1920s through 1950s that feature the birth of the Negro Leagues, and that depict both the struggles endured and milestones achieved by its players. Footage will also highlight the Negro Leagues’ innovations that helped shape modern day baseball, such as the Leagues’ usage of portable light towers to enable games to be played after dusk for the first time ever.

The program includes Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and on April 15, 1947 becoming the first African American in the modern era to play on a Major League team.

“The impact of the Negro Leagues changed not only the sport of baseball, but our culture and society,” said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of Major League Baseball Network. “This documentary will take our viewers through this important milestone in American history.”

“As the United States prepares to welcome our first African American President, this special will help paint the picture of how baseball played a role in leading up to this moment,” said Winfield. “The Negro Leagues players were some of the best athletes of all-time and we hope this special can tell their story to a broader audience.”

Winfield played an integral role in the Special Negro Leagues Player Draft in 2008, which allowed for all 30 teams to ceremonially draft a player whose career included the Negro Leagues.

Source: MLB Network


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Blackout Blues Update: MLB Owners Quarterly Meetings Today in AZ Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 09:16
Blackout Blues

Will the season get underway with the current television blackout policy in place for MLB, or will the third time be the charm?

Owners will convene in Arizona’s Paradise Valley today to begin their quarterly meetings with the blackout policy a hotbed of discussion. The owners have tabled the television blackout territory issue in the last two meetings, even as pressure mounts from consumers that purchase MLB Extra Innings, the league’s out-of-market package each year.

To add to the mix, the new MLB Network is airing 26 games this season, meaning approx. 50 million subscribers may deal with the issue. To get around the vexing problem, MLB Network will show alternate games where blackouts are in play.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB Network to Televise Caribbean World Series Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 18:45

 MLB Network

MLB Network will be televising the 51st
Caribbean World Series, beginning on
Feb. 2nd.

MLB Network announced Monday that it will televise live the 51st annual Caribbean World Series from February 2 through February 6, 2009 scheduled to be played in Mexicali, Mexico. The telecast of the Caribbean World Series will mark the first live games telecast on MLB Network.

In addition to televising 12 games of the winter tournament, otherwise known as “La Serie del Caribe,” MLB Network will air game highlights and recaps of tournament play, preview match-ups and provide extensive coverage as part of its studio show “Hot Stove.”

“MLB Network is proud to join the long, historic tradition of the Caribbean World Series,” said Tony Petitti, MLB Network President and CEO. “We are excited to make this great international event available to a broad audience of baseball fans.”

“The Caribbean World Series offers baseball fans the opportunity to experience competitive play combined with national pride. We are pleased that the tournament will reach its largest distribution ever through the MLB Network,” said Sara Loarte, Cultiva Entertainment.

Since 1949, the Caribbean World Series, a 12-game round robin tournament between the best teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, has crowned a champion within this group of nations, and has served as a platform to showcase the best competition of Winter League Baseball. Major League players who have participated in the Caribbean World Series include legends such as Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt and Fernando Valenzuela; and active Major League players such as Pedro Martinez, Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Rodriguez, and Miguel Cabrera, among others. The Caribbean World Series is sanctioned by Major League Baseball. Cultiva Entertainment is the exclusive agent for the Caribbean 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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Hall of Fame Election Results to Be Broadcast on MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 12 January 2009 02:29

Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson should be a lock to land
in the Hall of Fame on Monday. MLB Network
will broadcast the selection,the first time the
HOF election results have been conducted
on television.

The official announcement of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2009 election results, live from MLB Network’s Secaucus-based studios, will air exclusively on MLB Network and online at MLB.com on Monday, with coverage beginning live at 1:30 p.m. ET. The live program on MLB Network marks the first time this announcement will be made on television.

Jeff Idelson, the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, will appear in studio to reveal the results of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America 2009 Hall of Fame election, as part of a live special beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET, hosted by Victor Rojas and also featuring Barry Larkin, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci. MLB Network launched on January 1 in approximately 50 million homes as the largest network debut in cable history.

MLB Network’s special coverage of the Hall of Fame announcement includes two live specials in addition to its regular Hot Stove show that airs at 7:00 p.m. ET, including a third live show at 9:00 p.m. ET expected to include interviews with those elected, analysis and a look ahead at the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot, in which Larkin will appear for the first time.

In addition to streaming the results announcement live for the sixth straight year, MLB.com will provide fans with complete coverage of the results, including a collection of print and multimedia retrospectives of the electee(s) career(s), a peek into the ballots of its 13 honorary BBWAA reporters to find out who they voted for and why and on-demand video of the Hall of Fame Class of 2009’s introductory press conference from New York on Tuesday, January 13.

Source: MLB Network


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB Network Reportedly Coming to Canada as "Baseball TV" Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:30

 MLB Network

MLB Network currently isn't being aired in
Canada, but could be shortly under the
name Baseball TV

As reported just prior to the MLB Network launch on Jan. 1, and confirmed through our interview with Tony Petitti, the president and CEO of MLB Network, the new 24/7/365 channel dedicated to all things baseball is not currently being distributed in Canada and other international markets.

That may be changing.

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Rogers Cable is looking to carry the channel, but with a slight twist: Canadian-added content. Rogers Communications owns the Toronto Blue Jays. As reported by the Globe and Mail:

Rogers would take programming from MLB Network, add Canadian content, and make the channel, titled Baseball TV, available to distributors.

Rogers Cable would carry it. And so, probably, would other companies. A spokesperson for Bell TV said the satellite company would "look at it very seriously."

The question for MLB fans in Canada is, how soon will the channel be available? "Nothing has stalled," a Rogers spokesperson said somewhat optimistically.

The report mentions that if Rogers were to come to an agreement, they would become a majority owner of Baseball TV. Reached for comment regarding the Rogers deal, MLB Network spokesman Matt Bourne said, “We have had discussions with Rogers about bringing MLB Network to Canada , but at this point, nothing is imminent.” MLB Network declined to discuss details of the negotiations.

Currently, DirecTV, and the cable consortium of iNDemand, which includes Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and Cox Communications, have a minority ownership stake in MLB Network.

(Thanks to BSN staff member, Pete Toms)


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Subscriber Confusion Surrounds MLB Network Launch Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 02 January 2009 11:29

MLB Network

UPDATE #1: MLB Network reports that the HD feed of the channel is available to all carriers offering MLB Network. However, not all carriers are offering HD to customers, at this time.

UPDATE #2: MLB Network reports that the channel is carried on "expanded basic or digital basic or its equivalent."

MLB Network hit the ground running yesterday, with Commissioner Bud Selig addressing fans two-minutes before 6pm ET (watch Selig's address), and then airing MLB Hot Stove, a show dedicated to the action in baseball’s off-season. But some of the approximately 50 million subscribers expecting to see the new channel were met with blank screens, a product of service level requirements, possible hardware issues, and in at least one instance, a local cable company not having digital service up and running by launch time.

The largest factor, for those that may be expecting to have access to MLB Network, revolves around what is deemed to be the “basic” package.  A key point for distribution of MLB Network stemmed from negotiations in April of 2007 for MLB’s out of market package, Extra Innings. While Extra Innings was initially going to be granted to DirecTV as a monopoly, eventually the cable consortium of iNDemand was able to broker a deal to continue to gain access to Extra Innings, but it was stipulated by MLB that MLB Network would also have to be carried, and on the basic tier, the most widely available. According to MLB Network, the distribution deal brokered with all carriers is that all must broadcast on the digital basic, or the carrier’s equivalent, a key difference from early reports. Those that have analog service, no matter the carrier, will need to upgrade.

The exception for the lowest level of digital service required for MLBN, at this stage, appears to be DirecTV. MLB Network is on the Choice package and above. Choice is the level just above what DirecTV deems as "Family", or the lowest level. ESPN, and other sports offerings, are not on the Family level of service.

A statement released from MLB Network said, “MLB Network successfully launched on January 1 in approximately 50 million homes.  MLB Network is carried by most major cable and telco providers as well as DirecTV on digital basic or expanded basic. As has been widely reported, MLB Network is not carried a specialized sports tier, but does require customers to subscribe to digital basic cable or the equivalent. Fans can consult the channel locator on MLBNetwork.com to see where it is available in their zip code, and should call their cable, satellite or telco provider if they have further questions.”

Some carriers may also not be fully upgraded to digital service. In Los Angeles, Bob Timmermann of Baseball Toaster: The Griddle (living in the South Pasadena area) reported that Time Warner customer service said 90 percent of the area was getting MLB Network, that most not getting service now would get the channel sometime next week, and some would need to wait until February 10th or 11th. MLB Network could not yet confirm whether this was due to parts of Time Warner’s service area being upgraded fully to digital service, while some areas may not.

There were also issues reported with Time Warner Cable in the Albany-Schenectady region of New York. New York Capital region subscribers there did not get MLB Network until 11pm ET, according to Ken Schott of the Schenectady Gazette. MLBN confirm that this was a technical issue at the time MLB Network went on the air.

Some Comcast subscribers the Portland and Denver area were said to be unable to catch MLB Network. MLBN reports that they have been in contact with Comcast in these markets and the systems were up and running at launch as part of their distribution agreements.

Reports have also filtered into the Business of Sports Network that some using TiVo players with cable cards are unable to access the channels listed. In the cases reported, subscribers had premium packages. Others, however, have reported that the systems are working properly. MLB Network is looking into the issue at this time. A technical issue has been reported in the past with premium channels and TiVos with cable cards, most notably those looking to watch NHL’s Center Ice.

The other subscriber dissatisfaction stems from lack of HD channels for some carriers.

While some issues are said to be getting ironed out, other issues may take far longer. HD distribution appears to still be in its infancy for MLB Network, and as mentioned in our interview with Tony Petitti, President and CEO of MLB Network, distribution in Canada and other international markets are still being negotiated.

As MLB Network enters its second day, we’d like to hear if you are having issues gaining access. Please post in the comments.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Video: Bud Selig Launches MLB Network Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 01 January 2009 16:39

MLB Network is set to air in just under an hour and a half (6pm ET), and with that, Commissioner Selig is set to kick the launch off by addressing the fans.

(To get background on MLB Network, read the interview with Tony Petitti, the President and CEO of MLB Network, and our MLB Network /  Extra Innings section of BizofBaseball.com)

To see Selig's address to fans, select the image below (Quicktime required)

Selig MLB Network address

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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Comcast Picks Up MLB Network for New England Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 31 December 2008 15:03

MLB NetworkComcast today announced that it has added MLB Network to its digital cable lineup in New England.

MLB Network, which is debuting on January 1 to more than 50 million homes nationwide, offers baseball fans a full menu of year-round baseball news and entertainment, from pre-season deal-making to spring training to live game coverage to daily analysis of the league and its teams. In its inaugural year, the channel will offer more than 1,400 hours of live programming, including at least 26 of baseball's best match-ups.

Of special interest to New England sports fans, the launch will also bring former NESN reporter Hazel Mae back to television in New England. Mae will report for the MLB Network programs Hot Stove, the live nightly off-season studio show featuring news, reports and analysis of the moves various teams make and the planning in preparation for the upcoming season, and MLB Tonight, the network's premiere live in-season studio show that will air each night.

"We are excited to add even more programming to our industry-leading sports lineup as part of our commitment to provide fans with a fantastic baseball viewing experience," said Doug Guthrie, Vice President of Comcast's Western New England Region. "Given the year-round wealth of breaking news that really is unique to Major League Baseball and the incredibly high interest in baseball here in New England, fans are sure to embrace MLB Network's in-depth programming."

"We are thrilled to be launching MLB Network on Comcast systems in New England," said Tony Petitti, MLB Network President and CEO. "MLB Network will offer baseball fans an insider's perspective on the sport that has never been seen before. This launch further expands on our ability to bring the ultimate coverage of the national pastime to fans on a 24/7 basis."

Source: Comcast


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Week 1 Studio Line-Up for MLB Network’s Hot Stove Announced. Tom Verducci Added as "Insider" Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 29 December 2008 14:32

MLB NetworkIt’s been known for weeks now that MLB Network will launch at 6:00pm ET on January 1 with the debut of Hot Stove, but who will viewers see on day one?  And, for that matter, on day two?

Thursday’s episode of Hot Stove will be hosted by Victor Rojas and will feature analysts Barry Larkin, Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds, along with reporters Trenni Kusnierek and Hazel Mae, baseball insiders Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci and special guest Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Friday’s Hot Stove, which begins at its regular time of 7:00pm ET, will feature the same studio team, plus special guest Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins.

In addition, MLB Network has added new episodes of Hot Stove for this weekend, at 7:00pm ET on both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday’s show will be hosted by Rojas with analysts Joe Magrane, Mitch Williams and Reynolds, along with Heyman as baseball insider and Greg Amsinger on the update desk, and featuring former Major League pitcher Mike Flanagan as special guest.  Sunday’s show will mark Amsinger’s debut as host, and he’ll be joined by Magrane, Reynolds, Williams and Heyman.

As noted, Tom Verducci has been added to the MLB Network’s line-up.

The Sports Illustrated Senior Writer will join the studio team as a “Baseball Insider.” Verducci will appear on the debut episode of Hot Stove, at 6:00 p.m. ET on January 1, as well as MLB Tonight, the live, nightly studio show during the baseball season that will be the signature program of the new network, which will launch on January 1, 2009, in approximately 50 million homes as the largest network debut in cable history. Verducci, who will continue to write for Sports Illustrated and SI.com joins SI colleague Jon Heyman, on the MLB Network team.

“Tom’s insight and perspective is very well respected by everyone associated with baseball,” said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network. “It’s very important for us to have Tom and Jon on board from day one to establish our credibility, and we feel we got two of best people for the job.”

To recap, here are the dates, times and studio teams for the first four episodes of Hot Stove on MLB Network:

  • Thursday, January 1, 6:00pm ET
    Victor Rojas (host), Barry Larkin, Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds (analysts), Trenni Kusnierek and Hazel Mae (reporters), Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci (baseball insiders), Jimmy Rollins (guest)
  • Friday, January 2, 7:00pm ET
    Victor Rojas (host), Barry Larkin, Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds (analysts), Trenni Kusnierek and Hazel Mae (reporters), Jon Heyman (baseball insider), Michael Cuddyer (guest)
  • Saturday, January 3, 7:00pm ET
    Victor Rojas (host), Joe Magrane, Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams (analysts), Greg Amsinger (reporter), Jon Heyman (baseball insider), Mike Flanagan (guest)
  • Sunday, January 4, 7:00pm ET
    Greg Amsinger (host), Joe Magrane, Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams (analysts), Jon Heyman (baseball insider)

Source: MLB Network


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB Network Not Initially Available in Canada, International Markets Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 28 December 2008 19:51

MLB NetworkMLB Network will launch in the U.S. to approx. 50 million homes on New Year’s Day, but those in Canada and other international markets will not get the new 24/7/365 network dedicated to all things Major League Baseball, according to the new network.

“Currently MLB Network is not distributed in Canada,” said MLB Network in a statement. “We are looking forward to our launch in the United States on January 1, 2009 and we hope to be able to expand the distribution of the Network to baseball fans in Canada and other international markets in the future.”

Look for more details, should MLB Network become available outside the U.S. in the future.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB Network Programming for Jan. Features World Series Highlights to Classic Years Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 28 December 2008 14:39

MLB NetworkWith 5 days to go before the MLB Network launches, many have wondered what type of archival footage and special programming will be available. Digging through MLBNetwork.com's schedule lineup for January reveals these nuggets.

Friday, January 9 –

(1:00pm ET) – Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and Rays

(8:00pm ET) – World Series Highlights, featuring the1996 World Series matchup between the NY Yankees and Atlanta Braves

Sat. January 10 –

(1:30am ET) - World Series Highlights, featuring the 1946 World Series matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox (key play being Game 7 and Slaughter’s Mad Dash)

(11:00 am ET) Harvey Wallbangers, featuring the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers

January 14 –

(8:00pm ET) – Baseball Seasons, 1986 - The Year of the Debut: Greg Maddux, Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Bo Jackson, Barry Larkin, Jamie Moyer and Fred McGriff started their careers. Red Sox and Mets wage historic World Series battle.

January 16 –

(1:00pm ET) – All Time Games, featuring the 4/21/1991 game between Chicago @ Pittsburgh resulting in a 13-12 shootout.

(8:00pm ET) World Series Highlights, featuring the 2005 World Series matchup between the Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros.

January 17 –

(1:30am ET) – World Series Highlights, featuring the 1947 World Series matchup between the NY Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers

(12:00pm ET) 2007 NLCS Game 4, the National League Pennant clinching game between the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Colorado Rockies.

(3:00pm ET) 2007 ALCS Game 7, the American League Pennant Clinching Game between the Cleveland Indians at the Boston Red Sox.

January 18 –

(12:00pm – 11:30pm ET) – Games 2-4 of the 2007 World Series between the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox

January 19 –

(9:00pm ET) - MLB Network Presents: Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues

(10:00pm ET) – World Baseball Classic rosters are announced and analyzed.

January 22 –

(5:00pm ET) – World Series Highlights, featuring the1946 World Series matchup between the St. Louis Browns vs. Boston Braves.

January 23 –

(8:00pm ET) - World Series Highlights, featuring the 2001 World Series matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. NY Yankees

(9:00pm ET) - World Series Highlights, featuring the 1990 World Series matchup between the Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland Athletics

January 24 –

(12:00pm ET) – 2006 ALCS Game 4, American League Pennant Clinching Game between the Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers.

(3:00pm ET) – 2006 NLCS Game 7, National League Pennant Clinching Game: St. Louis Cardinals @ NY Mets

(6:00pm to 9:00pm ET) – Games 1 and 2 of the 2006 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers.

January 25 –

(1:00pm to 10:30pm ET) – Games 3-5 of the 2006 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers.

January 28 –

(11:00pm ET) – World Series Highlights, featuring the 1944 World Series matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals vs. St. Louis Browns.

(11:30pm ET) - World Series Highlights, featuring the 1945 World Series matchup between the Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs

January 29 –

(12:00am ET) – Baseball Seasons, featuring 1968 - The Year of the Pitcher as Bob Gibson Set a Modern-Day Record with a 1.12 ERA; Denny McLain Won 31 Games and his Teammate Mickey Lolich Won 3 Games in the World Series

January 30 –

(8:00pm ET) – World Series Highlights, featuring the 2002 World Series matchup between the Anaheim Angels vs. San Francisco Giants

(11:00pm ET) - Series Highlights, featuring the 1948 World Series matchup between the Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Braves

Source: MLB Network


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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