ESPN Sunday Night Baseball: Dodgers-Pirates Aug. 9; Giants-Pirates Aug 23; Cubs-Dodgers Aug. 30

ESPN announced today it has made its game selections for the Aug. 9, Aug. 23 and Aug. 30 editions of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell. On Aug. 9, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw will visit the Pittsburgh Pirates and Andrew McCutchen at PNC Park. Returning to PNC Park, the Pirates will host the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner on Aug. 23. On Aug. 30, the Dodgers will host the Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant at Dodger Stadium.

All Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell telecasts start at 8 p.m. ET and are also available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and via WatchESPN.

Scheduled commentators

Dan Shulman, in his fifth year as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball, is scheduled to provide commentary for both telecasts with analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney. Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton are scheduled to describe the action for ESPN Radio.

Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet will precede both telecasts with a one-hour, pre-game show at 7 p.m. On Aug. 9, Karl Ravech, will be joined by analyst Aaron Boone, reporter Tim Kurkjian and on-site reporter Nicole Briscoe prior to the Dodgers-Pirates game. On Aug. 30, Adnan Virk will host alongside Boone and Kurkjian for the Cubs-Dodgers matchup.

On deck – the Washington Nationals will visit the New York Mets, August 2, on Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell. Shulman will be joined by Schilling, Kruk, and Olney to call the telecast at Citi Field.

Sunday Night Baseball upcoming schedule:

Date Telecast
Aug. 2 Washington Nationals at New York Mets presented by Taco Bell
Aug. 9 Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates presented by Taco Bell
Aug. 16 TBD
Aug. 23 San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates presented by Taco Bell
Aug. 30 Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers presented by Taco Bell

 

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Media contacts: Ben Cafardo at 860-766-3496 or ben.cafardo@espn.com (@Ben_ESPN);

Gianina Thompson at 860-766-7022 or gianina.thompston@espn.com (@Gianina_ESPN).

Biggio, Johnson, Martinez & Smoltz Take Center Stage at Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Exclusively on MLB Network

mlb-networkMLB Network’s Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz Join Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson in the 2015 Induction Class

Amsinger, Gammons, Kenny, Millar & Reynolds Anchor Live On-Site Coverage Beginning Sunday at 12:00 p.m. ET

July 22, 2015 – Marking just the third time that four players were elected in the same class, MLB Network will exclusively televise the ceremony as Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York this Sunday, July 26. Anchored by Hall of Fame award-winning writer Peter Gammons, Martinez’s former Boston Red Sox teammate Kevin Millar, Johnson’s former Seattle Mariners teammate Harold Reynolds, and hosts Greg Amsinger and Brian Kenny, MLB Network’s live on-site coverage will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. ET, followed by the Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. ET.

MLB Network’s exclusive live telecast of the ceremony will include the acceptance speeches by Biggio, Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz, the four electees from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote in January. The ceremony will also feature the introductions of an expected 53 Hall of Famers, including Whitey Ford, Juan Marichal, Joe Morgan and Nolan Ryan.  Beginning this Friday on MLB Tonight, MLB Network’s Hall of Fame coverage will also feature a special tribute to the three pitchers in the 2015 class as Hall of Famer and three-time Cy Young Award winner Tom Seaver narrates an essay by MLB Network’s Tom Verducci that recalls how Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz each overcame unique challenges to exceed expectations over the course of their careers.

On Sunday at 8:00 p.m. ET, MLB Network will premiere a new episode of Studio 42 with Bob Costas featuring the 2015 Hall of Fame pitchers, Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz, filmed in Cooperstown earlier in the week. With a combined nine Cy Young Awards among them, Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz became the first trio of pitchers honored by the BBWAA in the same election, with each appearing on the ballot for the first time. Immediately following the interview, MLB Network will televise an abbreviated version of the Induction Ceremony at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Leading into its live coverage on Sunday, MLB Network will air the 2015 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11:00 a.m. ET. The presentation, which will be held on Saturday, July 25 in Cooperstown and hosted by Greg Amsinger, will honor longtime Detroit News sportswriter Tom Gage with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for his contributions to baseball writing and San Diego Padres announcer Dick Enberg with the Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting.

MLB Network’s live coverage of the Induction Ceremony will be simulcast on MLB.com and BaseballHall.org, and available for live authenticated streaming via MLB.com At Bat. MLB Network will make footage of the ceremony available live via satellite and additional details on the satellite feed will be sent to media from MLB Network. The Hall of Fame’s 2015 election results were announced on January 6 live from MLB Network’s studios for the seventh consecutive year and aired exclusively on MLB Network and MLB.com.

About MLB Network:

MLB Network is the ultimate television destination for baseball fans, featuring the multiple Emmy Award-winning MLB Tonight, live regular season and Postseason game telecasts, original programming, highlights, and insights and analysis. MLB Network debuted on January 1, 2009 in a record-setting 50 million homes, is currently distributed in approximately 70 million homes throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, and is available for live, authenticated streaming via MLB.com At Bat and MLBNetwork.com. For more information and to find MLB Network in your area, go to www.MLBNetwork.com.

Transcript of ESPN & Missouri Valley Conference Media Call to Announce 10-Year Rights Extension

ESPN and the Missouri Valley Conference held a media conference call on Thursday, July 23, to announce a 10-year extension to their current media rights agreement that will provide increased coverage of conference events across ESPN platforms through the 2023-24 academic year.

Conference call participants included Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN Vice President, College Sports Programming; Doug Elgin, Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner; Larry Lyons, Illinois State University Director of Athletics; David Wright, Drake University Associate Dean & Associate Professor; Gregg Marshall, Wichita State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach; and Jack Watkins, Missouri Valley Conference, Associate Commissioner.

A transcript of the opening comments and Q&A:

Doug Elgin: Good morning, everyone. We are here in Chicago at Loyola University’s School of Communications to announce a long-term extension of the ESPN rights agreement, which clearly signals a new era for our conference. For the term of this new agreement, which runs through the ’23/’24 academic year, the MVC and its member institutions will work together to produce thousands of live athletic events that will be distributed on ESPN3. The co-branded network that will launch next month, The Valley on ESPN3, serves to recognize that our conference continues to be committed to remaining competitive in a fast-changing NCAA Division I landscape. This exponential increase in exposure will bring significant emphasis to men’s and women’s basketball and every conference-sponsored sport.

A key aspect of this campus-based television model will be the involvement of students in the production of live athletics events, and this student involvement is central and foundational to this agreement. Students majoring in broadcast journalism, communications or other areas of study will receive hands-on experience that will enhance their qualifications and opportunities for employment in television media or related fields.

I’m very proud of the commitments that our president’s council and directors are making to our student-athletes and athletic programs and the campus communities in general. We believe ESPN’s commitment to our league through this new agreement is an acknowledgment of our men’s basketball competitiveness that we can compete at the highest level. Certainly Wichita State’s rise to national power and Northern Iowa’s strong run in recent years have opened doors for us, but we’re seeing a much more competitive league in men’s basketball top to bottom.

This new network will provide opportunities to promote academic programs and showcase individuals throughout our campus communities. We are extremely grateful that the Missouri Valley’s relationship with ESPN will be stronger than ever. I think today’s announcement represents one of the biggest steps the MVC has taken in the modern era. This new network will be a game changer for our league. We are a basketball-centric league and the extension of our ESPN agreement ensures we will continue to compete on a national stage. Coaches in every sport will use this exposure to recruit more effectively.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Rosalyn Durant, senior vice president of ESPN’s college networks, and Brent Colborne, the director of programming and acquisitions for their hard work in helping to make this strengthened relationship with the MVC possible. I would also like to commend the MVC Associate Commissioner Jack Watkins and media consultant Rick Chryst, who played critical roles in this process.

Ilan Ben-Hanan: Good morning. The Missouri Valley Conference has been a significant contributor to ESPN’s college sports content since our early years, and with this deal will continue to play a key role into the next decade, nearly 40 years since our first agreement. This extension places the conference and its member institutions at the forefront of innovative sports coverage.

The MVC has been a pioneer in embracing new technology. National coverage of multiple sports that didn’t previously exist to millions of fans is the latest example. We all see the on-campus production initiative as an opportunity for both academic and athletic programs at the member institutions, with benefits that include hands-on experience for students and unprecedented exposure for sports that might otherwise not have been shown on television.

Larry Lyons: The relationship between The Valley and ESPN is tremendous news for MVC men’s basketball. It will provide national coverage for each Valley school as we produce live events for ESPN3. Not only are we building a national platform for our teams to showcase themselves, we are extending the reach of all of our institutions to friends, family, fans, alumni, prospective student-athletes and prospective students. I’m confident that each campus will strive to produce the highest quality of live content and use the creative talents of students and staff to tell the story of inside each contest.

David Wright: This is an exciting day for Drake University and our production. For 28 years we’ve been doing sports production at Drake. We are incredibly excited about the expertise that ESPN will give us and the infusion of excitement of students getting involved in more and more production. This is a new era. What I really am excited about it is it will put athletes and academics together at a greater level than we’ve ever before had at Drake. We are very excited about this.

Gregg Marshall: It obviously gives us an opportunity to play on national television and many different stations across the ESPN brand. We had GameDay here last year. I thought it was tremendous the way they were received as well as the way the league presented itself with the Northern Iowa team coming in as a top-10 team, we were top-10. It just made for great theater with the regular-season title on the line. I know we have the mandate from the league that our teams are supposed to try to participate in the exempt tournaments that are showcased on ESPN over the holiday season. We’ve been doing that for several years. We’re just excited and ecstatic to be able to showcase our league and our program at Wichita State on ESPN.

Q.) Coach Marshall, how do you think this agreement maybe puts you closer, or more on par with, other conferences that you not only compete against but recruit against?
Marshall: Well, I think any time you can appear on ESPN, it helps you with not just your regional but national exposure. You can go anywhere and get ESPN channels, and now with ESPN3 from your laptop, which I’ve learned how to do myself. We have an Apple TV. We can watch just about any game now. The Valley is going to be able to talk about how many times you’re on television.

I think every game we played last year was on television. If it wasn’t on ESPN or CBS, then it was on statewide in Kansas. That was only a handful of times. We were on regionally and nationally 20-something times last year, which is great. Now the other schools will be able to say the same thing. I think it really helps us from a recruiting standpoint, as you mentioned.

Q.) Doug, what does it mean to the brand to have your Olympic sports more exposed to a larger audience? Secondly, you’ve been the commissioner for 28 years. There have been a lot of historic moments as commissioner. How does consummating a deal with the number one brand name in the world, how does that rank among your many accomplishments as the commissioner?
Elgin: It’s right up there at the very top. We’ve never underestimated the promotional power of ESPN. When you think about networks that you can partner with, you certainly look to the worldwide leader. I think through the years we’ve had probably seven or eight different contracts with ESPN. This one kind of fills in all the cracks, all of our sports programs are going to benefit. I think the programs that are going to gain the most are those that have been exposed the least. Those would be the Olympic sports. Baseball has been great. We’ve had three teams in the baseball tournament this year, and many years in past history.

I do think this is going to help our recruiting, our coaches, and every program will have the opportunity to tell recruits and their families they’ll be able to watch their sons and daughters play every game of their college careers essentially at home.

Q.) Doug, I was curious, what is the financial benefit for the schools out of this deal?
Elgin: Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to talk about the finances of contracts that we have with media companies. I can’t really expound upon that.

Q.) Commissioner Elgin, can you speak to the role that the students will have in this production? Is it the full scope of it? To what extent? Is there any concern or consideration for how this would impact quality since you’re lining that up against perhaps some more veteran, more experienced crew members?
Elgin: I’d like to kick that question to associate commissioner Jack Watkins who has been out in the field.

Jack Watkins: ESPN has been largely involved in this process even when we did not have a contract. There have been production professors, if you will, that have been involved with conference calls that have actually made trips to campuses to meet not only with athletic staff, but individuals like Professor David Wright at Drake, to help convey what ESPN expectations are, that production guidelines are met.

To answer your question about the involvement of students, it can be from either running cameras to directing or producing. The long-term is to have as many students engaged and involved. This whole process with the build-out on campus began in earnest in September of 2014. As Doug communicated earlier, we are looking for a launch date on ESPN at or around September the 4. Our institutions as well as ESPN personnel have been in consistent dialogue to move forward and to produce the very best product we can on air.

Ben-Hanan: In addition to all the benefits and procedures and plans that Jack has described, the opportunity for a deal like this to help deepen and diversify our talent pool, find future people that can work for us or other media companies, is a great asset and part of this deal, something we’re excited about.

Q.) Doug or Jack, I want to make sure I understand right. In previous years I could watch Valley games on ESPN3. Educate me how this is different going forward. Secondly, I noticed in the release, there was a buildup, because it talks about a minimum of basketball games in the six-year agreement. Explain how this is going to roll out. What will fans notice different than in past years?
Elgin: As Gregg Marshall pointed out, people are becoming much more comfortable accessing live content through mobile apps and WatchESPN. That’s going to be the biggest change. Every game we play in conference in men’s and women’s basketball will be televised in the early years of this agreement. We’re going to start with the court sports, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball. There’s going to be an eagerness by our conference institutions to produce as many events as they can. They will have a blank page to write on. They can produce as many outdoor sporting events as they can capably handle in the early years. But we’re going to peak at literally 800-plus events a year in the final six years of the agreement.

We’re stair-stepping up to that with numbers that we’re capable of achieving. This is going to be a big endeavor for our schools. I think there’s going to be a lot of excitement on campuses. We’re going to tell stories that couldn’t be told on linear networks. We’re going to have opportunities to talk about individuals on campus, faculty members, students that are achieving in the classroom. I just think there’s going to be a whole new wave of opportunity to market and sell our schools.

Q.) What does it mean for local packages then, like in Wichita? Does that go away?
Elgin: It does not. I think this contract very carefully protects our institutional packages at levels of production in past years, most recent years. We also have protection of our regional syndication. That’s been very important to us, the opportunity to produce games and put them on the regional networks. The best part of that is outside of our five-state footprint, ESPN3 will continue to carry all these games nationally. Again, I credit ESPN for allowing us to spread our games across multiple networks and platforms. We couldn’t be happier with the state of our television operation.

Q.) Mr. Ben-Hanan, you talked about the student involvement with the ESPN3 product, with the involvement of each respective Missouri Valley Conference school. I guess on-air is going to be included with that student help. If that’s the case, is there any worry from the on-air quality you are going to get from your student broadcasters?
Ben-Hanan: Thanks for the question. I think all of these things are a process. I think we have had experience with other students involved in our productions at other schools and conferences. So we’re going into this with some expertise and some knowledge of that. Generally speaking, what we’re talking about here from student involvement does not always extend to on-air. Oftentimes we’re talking about the ability to help run cameras, the production truck, run graphics, and the ability to build up and ramp up to production and direction roles.

Certainly there could be an opportunity here or there for students to have some on-air roles. We’ve done things in past years literally involving students embedded in the student section, which gives you a perspective you can’t get otherwise. I think, generally speaking, anyone who rises to that role, we have an expectation of professionalism. There would be rehearsals and opportunities that hopefully will allow for a level of quality. Having said that, there certainly will be a learning curve. I think we have an expectation that if fans are tuning in to a game, no matter how it’s produced, that it’s credible, that it’s professional, and that it is functional and allows fans to enjoy the game every bit as much as they would otherwise.

Q.) Mr. Wright, I know from the Indiana State University campus, there’s a lot of talk about the students being involved primarily with the on-air stuff. From the Drake perspective, what are you planning on doing with your students?
Wright: Excellent question. We’ve been doing video production for about 28 years in my time at Drake, starting from a delivery truck where we had folding tables. We train our students in a number of the production classes, but now we also have a production division that’s doing work for our steaming and scoreboards. We’ve already made investments in equipment in our production area in the journalism school that are actually very similar to the switcher, a little more powerful than the switcher we will be using in the athletics area. So we are starting to infuse that technology.

What we’re really excited about is the expertise ESPN brings on the graphics side, on the ‘look’ side, and also on the on-air talent side. We’re using a lot of students for on-air talent for some of our cablecasts streaming now. I think the initial thing will be working on the packages, behind the scenes, really understanding what’s going on in the different sports that would be hard for a crew that was coming in from out of town to really know that insight. That’s where I see that coming eventually. I hope with training, the recruiting is going to change. We’re excited about releasing this to prospective students to say, Look at the opportunities you have to start working towards this. Hopefully by the time they get to their senior year they’ll be up to snuff. My background says we can do this; we can produce the quality to be on ESPN.

Q.) Doug, what is a good audience for the ESPN-3? What are kind of the projections since more and more people are cutting the cord on cable a little bit? Is this a move towards the future?
Elgin: I think we’d like to kick that question to our friend in Los Angeles, Ilan Ben-Hanan.

Ben-Hanan: For us a good audience is fans can see the game. We’re really not as concerned with the individual game metrics and trying to determine on a game-by-game basis the total size of the audience. A deal like this is both qualitative and quantitative in nature. And the ability to get these games on in a form that wasn’t even possible just a couple years ago, the ability to not have to worry about the shelf space concerns that have always been limiting for the amount of total games that can be on. That’s what is game-changing about a deal like this. Ultimately our hope is that for the student-athletes, their families, the fans of these schools, the fans of basketball in general, even for the selection committees in the various sports to see these teams, I think that has an impact, not just how many people are tuned in to a given game, but a team’s quest for championships.

Q.) – Question regarding current access and the games moving to ESPN3 –
Watkins: Part of this deal, the commitment in the first year is to the core sports of volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball. But the long-term viability and sustainability of this network is to add more sports as the years go on. As part of the deal, those previous sports that were webcast will now be the exclusive property of The Valley on ESPN3.

Q.) What kind of investment has The Valley estimated most schools are going to have to put into this to pull this off?
Elgin: I think that varies at each institution. As Professor Wright pointed out, Drake has long made investments in their infrastructure. They’ve been leaders in institutional telecasts. I think that commitment will continue.

Q.) For ESPN, has the network ever done anything like this before with any other conference or any league? Is this completely groundbreaking in its nature?
Ben-Hanan: We have had some experience working with some individual schools in doing these kind of what we call ‘school production deals’. We’ve had some conversations with some conferences that have kind of opened the door for the opportunity to do this. I think something like this done at the conference level with the support of both the academic and athletic sides of the house from the very beginning of the deal, that I think is what makes this very unique. We’ve had some experience, but doing something this comprehensive from the very beginning is something we’re really excited about.

Q.) On the investment question. What about the actual equipment, cameras, things like that? Is ESPN going to be involved in helping foot that bill or is that up to the schools?
Watkins: Any cost will be between the conference and the schools as it relates to the production build-out for our institutions. Again, it’s an initiative. Each school is different in terms of the equipment needs and the infrastructure. Any costs to acquire that equipment or those amenities to make the network viable will be between the conference and our 10 member institutions.

I think it’s important to recognize from the Missouri Valley Conference’s perspective that we have a co-branded channel mark in The Valley on ESPN, that the conference has a mark of which it’s proud. It’s a co-branded mark as a leader in the industry. I think that really becomes our calling card from this point forward.

Elgin: One other thing that differentiates our deal from the others is the tonnage, the sheer number of events that are going to be produced by our campuses and by The Missouri Valley for distribution on ESPN3.

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ESPN and Missouri Valley Conference Extend Extensive Agreement Through 2023-24

ESPN and the Missouri Valley Conference have announced a 10-year extension to their current media rights agreement that will provide increased coverage of conference events across ESPN platforms through the 2023-24 academic year.

The_Valley_ESPN3_verticalAs part of the deal – which continues a business relationship that began in 1986 – ESPN, the Missouri Valley Conference and its 10 member institutions will work jointly to develop in-house production capabilities at each campus that will provide significant national coverage for multiple sports on ESPN3 and hands-on educational opportunities for students. As a result, ESPN3 will showcase a minimum of 820 events a year (a minimum of 70 men’s basketball) in the final six years of the agreement.

ESPN also retains the rights to the Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals and championship and Women’s Basketball Tournament championship each year. The agreement will continue to feature multiple men’s basketball and Olympic sports game telecasts across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS each year.

Missouri Valley Conference
The Missouri Valley Conference, the nation’s second-oldest NCAA Division I conference, continues to be a leader in college athletics and is one of the nation’s most progressive conferences, celebrating its 109th season in 2015-16.  League members have worked together to focus on common goals and objectives, placing a high value on league harmony, while continuing to invest in athletic programs to compete at the highest level. League all-sport members include Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, Loyola Chicago, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, and Wichita State.

ESPN, Inc.
ESPN, Inc., is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven U.S. 24-hour television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes and Longhorn Network (with the SEC Network launching August 2014) and five HD simulcast services (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes). Other businesses include ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (24 networks, syndication, radio, digital), ESPN Radio (broadcast, satellite, digital, a growing category led by ScoreCenter), digital services (ESPN.com plus a variety of sport-, college-, and market-specific sites; multi-screen WatchESPN and ESPN3; plus mobile TV and video, apps, alerts and messaging), ESPN The Magazine, consumer products and espnW. Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

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Sunday MLB on TBS Continues Sunday, July 26, with Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets at 1 p.m. ET; Game to be Seen Locally in L.A.

mlb-on-tbs

Coverage Continues with Full National Telecast August 2 – New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox – at 2 p.m.

Sunday MLB on TBS will continue July 26 with a match-up of National League playoff contenders, as the first place Los Angeles Dodgers and All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson visit the New York Mets and All-Star and probable starting pitcher Jacob deGrom at 1 p.m. ETBrian Anderson will provide play-by-play for the game, seen locally in the Los Angeles market, alongside veteran MLB on TBS analyst Ron Darling.

In a full national broadcast, Sunday MLB on TBS will feature the New York Yankees visiting the Chicago White Sox on August 2 at 2 p.m.  Dick Stockton will provide play-by-play, joined by Darling in the broadcast booth.

TBS is entering its 8th consecutive year of live MLB game coverage, with a lineup featuring regular season telecasts each Sunday afternoon and an extensive MLB Postseason schedule including the exclusive presentation of the National League Wild Card Game, both National League Division Series and the National League Championship Series this year.

Upcoming Sunday MLB on TBS Schedule

July 26, 1 p.m.:            Los Angeles Dodgers @ New York Mets

Brian Anderson (play-by-play) and Ron Darling (analyst)

August 2, 2 p.m.:         New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox

Dick Stockton (play-by-play) and Darling (analyst)

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Gillette Home Run Derby Presented by Head & Shoulders is ESPN’s Most-Viewed and Highest-Rated Since 2009

 

 

Gillette Home Run Derby Presented by Head & Shoulders is ESPN’s Most-Viewed and Highest-Rated Since 2009

Home Run Derby Telecast Averages 7,126,000 Viewers and 4.2 Household Rating

ESPN’s exclusive telecast of the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, averaged 7,126,000 viewers (P2+) and a 4.2 US household rating, according to Nielsen, making it the most-viewed and highest-rated Home Run Derby since 2009 (8,250,000 viewers and 5.1 rating).

ESPN won the night among all networks (broadcast and cable) in viewers, as well as all key male and adult demos. The Home Run Derby was the highest-rated telecast on cable among households, viewers (P2+) and adults 25-54; it was also the highest-rated telecast on both broadcast and cable among adults 18-34 and 18-49, and in all the key male demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54).

Viewership was up 32 percent (5,402,000 viewers in 2014) while the rating witnessed a 24 percent increase (3.4 rating) from a year ago. It peaked from 9:30-10 p.m. ET with a 4.5 rating and from 10-10:30 p.m. with 7,517,000 viewers.

Cincinnati Reds slugger Todd Frazier, competing at his home stadium, Great American Ball Park, was crowned champion as Major League Baseball introduced a new, tournament-style format and timed rounds.

Cincinnati sets ratings record

Host market Cincinnati drew a 19.6, the highest local market rating for a Home Run Derby telecast ever on ESPN. The top five markets:

Market Rating
1. Cincinnati 19.6
2. St. Louis 11.3
3. Kansas City 10.4
4. Dayton 9.7
5. Pittsburgh 7.9

 

Home Run Derby on WatchESPN

For the Home Run Derby on WatchESPN, there were 256,000 unique viewers, a 14 percent increase year-over-year, and 12.4 million total minutes viewed, a 10 percent increase.

2015 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game

In addition to the success of the Home Run Derby, ESPN’s telecast of the 2015 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game delivered a 1.7 rating and 2,972,000 viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-viewed Celebrity Softball game since 2010 (2.1 rating and 3,201,000 viewers).

On deck: ESPN will open its coverage of the second half of the MLB season with Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell – Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – on July 19, at 8 p.m. ET.

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Gillette Home Run Derby Presented by Head & Shoulders on ESPN Up 26 Percent with Strong 4.9 Overnight Rating

 

  • Host Cincinnati Market Delivers Highest Local Rating Ever for a Derby Telecast
  • All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Up 62 Percent on ESPN

 ESPN’s exclusive telecast of the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, delivered a strong 4.9 overnight rating, which is up 26 percent from a 3.9 for the 2014 event, according to Nielsen.

The Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, which emanated from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, included a new, tournament-style format and timed rounds. Cincinnati Reds slugger Todd Frazier was crowned champion after a dramatic performance in front of the hometown fans.

Cincinnati sets ratings record

In Cincinnati, the host market for the event, the telecast drew a 19.6, making it the highest local market rating for a Home Run Derby telecast ever on ESPN. The top five markets are below.

Market Rating
1. Cincinnati 19.6
2. St. Louis 11.3
3. Kansas City 10.4
4. Dayton 9.7
5. Pittsburgh 7.9

Home Run Derby on WatchESPN

The Home Run Derby was also the most-watched ever on WatchESPN. An average minute audience of 73,600 viewers watched the compelling event, up from 57 percent from 2014.

2015 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game

In addition to the success of the Home Run Derby, ESPN’s telecast of the 2015 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game delivered a 2.1 overnight rating, up 62 percent from a 1.3 from 2014.

On deck: ESPN will open its coverage of the second half of the MLB season with Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell – Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – on July 19, at 8 p.m. ET.

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Media contact: Ben Cafardo at 860-766-3496 or ben.cafardo@espn.com (@Ben_ESPN).

 

 

Transcript: ESPN Analysts Curt Schilling & Aaron Boone Discuss 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby Presented by Head & Shoulders, MLB All-Star Game

 

ESPN MLB Home Run Derby analysts Curt Schilling and Aaron Boone joined ESPN’s media conference call earlier today to discuss the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders and the MLB All-Star Game. ESPN will exclusively televise the Derby on Monday, July 13, at 8 p.m. ET. The event will also be available on ESPN Radio and WatchESPN.

Additionally, ESPN Radio will serve as the national radio broadcast home of the 2015 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 14, at 8 p.m. Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter will be on site in Cincinnati for pre-game shows. Boone will also participate in the 2015 MLB All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, airing on ESPN Monday, immediately following the Derby.

I’d like to get your thoughts on Pete Rose’s involvement in the on‑field All‑Star Game ceremonies for this year’s game? How do you both individually feel about that?

AARON BOONE:  I’m fine with it.  I think on this level he should be allowed to participate in things on a limited basis.  I think teams like Cincinnati and maybe even the Phillies in controlled situations should be allowed to have him be a part of their organization, part of their marketing, whatever.  I think it’s time that we celebrate him in his accomplishments in a limited way.

But I also don’t believe that he should be allowed all the way back into the game.  I think that the violations that he’s ultimately committed, I think, has been very clear, and I don’t think he should be allowed to be in decision‑making situations anymore in the game.  But I absolutely believe there is a place for him in the Hall of Fame.  I believe there is a place for him certainly with the Cincinnati Reds organization and certainly at this All‑Star Game.

CURT SCHILLING:  I think I’m at this point now I’m indifferent.  Apathy, I guess, is the right word, I think.  I guess I’m a little tired of his story overselling, overplaying or other things like the Hall of Fame weekend.  Every weekend at the Hall of Fame when guys are getting inducted there are always Pete Rose stories.  I think that we’re going to see the same thing at the All‑Star Game.  We have a lot of guys, and he’s going to be the story.

At the end of the day ‑‑ and I know Pete.  I know him actually pretty well.  I don’t know the last time that he has actually told the truth from the standpoint of every time he says something ‑‑ this is a guy that had a Lance Armstrong feel to it.  It turns out that he’s lied in every possible way and he’s adamantly denied lying at every possible turn.

The question I think everybody wants to know, everybody wants to know, did he bet on baseball?  No, no, no, never did, never did, never did.  Turns out he did as a player.  Now the question is did he bet on his own team when he played?  You know, I don’t know where the line ends.  But I do know that that poster about gambling was on every locker room I ever went in from the time I was in rookie ball to my last day in the Big Leagues, and it’s one of the few rules where I think you mess with a lot more than just the integrity of the game.

I’m apathetic.  Certainly as far as the Hall of Fame goes, I don’t know.  I’m just kind of ready for it to end, the story.

Aaron, first of all, you played at Great American in 2003 when it opened so you’re familiar with how the ball flies here. Question is how do you think that affects the Home Run Derby when it’s being held at such a home‑run‑friendly park? And number two, last year Todd Frazier talked about how when he reached the final round of the Derby he was physically, emotionally kind of exhausted.  How different of a thing is this for a hitter to be out there trying to hit home runs?  How different of an approach is that for you guys?  

 AARON BOONE:  Well, first off, I think it’s the best home run park in the game.  The reason I say that is because right field, as many of you know, is just really, really short across the board.  And centerfield, because it goes to that point, even just to the left and just to the right of dead center is shorter than most parks that are rounded there.  Also left field is probably more, call it fair, but it’s still, especially in the summer months, plays a bit on the smaller side.

So even with great hitters, in most great hitters’ ballparks for home runs, usually there is a place you can go that at least plays big.  Nowhere does that exist in Cincinnati and right field, especially for right‑handed hitters, especially these guys, they can mis-hit a ball to right center, and it’s going to go a good portion out with these guys with tremendous power.

So it’s as good a home run park, and I think it’s going to be fun to see if some of these lefties can hit it into the river or over everything.  I think there are going to be a lot of ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ moments in this Home Run Derby because of the smallness of the park but because of where balls might end up.  I think that’s going to be really cool to the eye.  So I think it has a chance to be a great Home Run Derby.

The second question was Todd Frazier talking about how he was exhausted by the final round. Can you just talk as a hitter how different it is to be out there trying to hit home run after home run?

 AARON BOONE:  Oh, yeah, it’s got to be emotionally and physically draining, and a lot depends on the player.  I used to marvel at Ken Griffey Jr. would go out and hit for an hour and be fine, and I used to be like, gosh, he hits so much.  All he wants to do is hit.  I think part of that is how simple his swing was and how smooth it was and what we remember of Junior’s swing.  But for a lot of us, going out there and taking lots of rounds of BP in the heat and then add it to the fact that you’re grinding through mentally and trying to go deep here and put on a show, and they’ve taken ‑‑ you hear all the time about the tunnel being the batting tunnel being out of there, that is an adjustment.

I did a Home Run Derby at the AAA All‑Star Game.  I’ve never done it with the Big Leagues.  That was the first thing that was really weird and really awkward was here you are in this fan setting, trying to hit home runs with no tunnel around you.  It’s something you just don’t do.

Now I think more and more guys are preparing for it, practicing for it, have their pitcher.  So really it’s about getting in a groove and getting in a comfortable scenario.

I think Todd now having experience in this will help him.  I think he understands it.  And there is a different format with the five minutes; I think that’s going to be a good thing.  But the challenge is staying physically sound in an event that can be grinding.

For some of these guys it’s a little easier because their swing is a little less maybe physically demanding or violent or whatever.  But I think that’s one of the big challenges these hitters face, and certainly Todd faces.

Curt, are you pleasantly surprised that a player like Prince Fielder (No microphone) bounced back so he can go to these events, both the Derby and the All‑Star Game?

 CURT SCHILLING:  Pleasantly is understating it.  I’m excited.  I’ve always been a huge fan.  I think when he was good, even though the accolades he got, I think he was still a very underrated player.  I think he was one of the last guys who or is one of the last guys who understands the value of the number 162.  He loves to play.  He’s a phenomenal athlete.  No matter what you want to say about his size, and he’s good for the game.

I’m very excited that he is back playing and he’s a force, because he is definitely a guy who you just don’t get up from the seat when you’re watching him do what he does.  I think it’s good for baseball.

Aaron, both rosters showcase two very good or a lot of very good third basemen. What is your take on the position now and your comparisons between Donaldson and Frazier?

AARON BOONE:  Yeah, I mean there are great third basemen in this game and great defensive third basemen.  Maybe historically great third basemen defensively coming through this game that will be coming off the bench in this one.  Donaldson for me is just so much fun to watch because he’s really good and athletic defensively, and the violence with which he swings with the understanding that I just love watching him try to work through the ball.  He’s obviously got good power to all fields, but he’s just confident in his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark the other way.  So he has no ‑‑ there is no agenda up there where he’s trying to hit the ball.  He’s trying to cover it.

That allows him the time to see the ball deep and because that power is good the other way, he’s able to do that.

As for Frazier, Curt said, talking about Curt’s being good for the game, I think Todd’s one of those guys that’s so good for the game.  He’s become so popular in Cincinnati.  He’s such a great personality.  When we used to go through there when he was first coming up and we’d talk to Dusty Baker, one of the things that stuck out to me with Dusty Baker was he’s got this team of young veterans now like Votto and Bruce and Brandon Phillips, who is kind of the voice in there?  And he said I think the leader of this team in short order will be Todd Frazier, and I think it spoke to what he saw of him outside of his physical playing ability.

He’s just a smart guy.  It’s a big personality.  Now he’s developed into this guy that was a little raw, with a big‑time power, and he’s one of those guys that I think is great at using torque and leverage to create enormous power, but there are a lot of holes in his game.  I think now he’s in a place where he really understands what he’s doing, has a real good idea at plate, and now we’re seeing the blossoming of a star player.

As for Machado and Arenado, I think you’re seeing two potentially all‑time great defensive third basemen, and that’s assuming Machado stays at third.  But I think he and Arenado defensively are ‑‑ when I was playing I used to marvel that I played in the same division with Scott Rolen all the time.  That was kind of my benchmark.  And I’ve watched him play third base like a shortstop built like a power forward, just with the range and the hands and the easy arm.

You know, Machado and Arenado are, honestly, I think going to be on the short list of great defensive third basemen if they stayed healthy and continue this track for a long time.  Now you add in what we’re starting to see with Machado offensively.  We’re starting to see ‑‑ we saw the doubles and the good young player, and I think everyone kind of envisioned there is a day out there where he’s going to start to hit 30, 30‑plus home runs a year.  And it’s happening now.  I think sooner than I even thought, but we’ve seen him gradually fill out more and more each year.

And then Arenado, I think maybe a little more of a secret considering he’s been playing in Colorado and maybe in Tulo’s shadow, to a degree, on a team that hasn’t won yet while he’s been there.  But special, special player, maybe even better defensively than Machado.  But certainly a superstar right now emerging.

Independent of the fact that you obviously work for ESPN which has the rights to this event, do you think there is a shelf life at all for the Home Run Derby? Or is it one of those things that if promoted correctly, done correctly, it could exist in baseball 50 years from now?

CURT SCHILLING:  I think it has potential to be open‑ended as far as life span goes.  I think what you’re seeing ‑‑ I tell you what, for the duration of Rob Manfred’s tenure it will be here because Rob has shown a willingness to act quickly, which I think you have to do in certain situations.

And I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a fan say, wow, I went to the Home Run Derby and it was horrible.  It’s fun.  It’s a unique event.  I think that they’re trying to address the one major issue, everybody is, which is the length of time.

But who doesn’t like to see guys make ballparks look really small?  I mean, it’s like the Slam Dunk Contest, and I think the hockey skill competition is starting to pick up a little bit from a notoriety standpoint.  But I always use the example when you watch the Home Run Derby, for the most part, everybody in the stands watching it can in a way say they’ve all hit home runs.  They’ve all played baseball.  They’ve all played little league.  That’s maybe changing a little bit from a numbers perspective.

But you can watch the Slam Dunk Contest, and my vertical at my peak was 4 to 6 inches, so I can’t relate to what I’m watching.  I sure as hell can’t relate to the hockey skills competition, but I can relate to the Home Run Derby, and I think a lot of people can, and I think that’s why baseball still resonates the way it does, and I think things like that do.

AARON BOONE:  Yeah, I think the tweaks that they’ve made this year will help it.  I think it’s important to continue.  Like Curt said, with Rob Manfred in they’ll act and do things that help change.  And I think you always have the chance of having historic moments at the Home Run Derby.  You know a Josh Hamilton, that kind of moment can happen, can take place.

We may go through a year where we have a bit of a clunker or not a great one by our perspective.  But I think there’s going to be years where you still have a wow, almost I remember where I was watching that when X‑player had that round in round three.  I think another thing that’s really cool this year is when I look at the brackets now and I see the one‑on‑one.  It’s kind of like I’m seeing a team or a brand.  Pujols versus Bryant, Pederson versus Machado.

In my mind, it makes it feel bigger initially.  It’s like those two star players, power hitters kind of slugging it out toe to toe.  I think that puts, I don’t know ‑‑ I think that personalizes it a little bit.  I think these small little changes will help.  And I think over the years you’ll continue to have to make small little changes to keep it very popular and to continue to resonate which I think it has a chance to a long time into the future.

CURT SCHILLING:  I guess I don’t know ‑‑ well, I guess I know why, but we tend to shy away from commenting in, about, around or involving any of the guys that were labeled as PED guys.  But I promise you any baseball fan in the last 35 years if you ask them about one of the Home Run Derbies, I’ll bet you at the top of everyone’s list was 1999.  What was going on at Fenway for all the other reasons, but being there and watching that, that’s why I’m excited about this one.  Because these guys are going to have a chance to make a big league ballpark look like a Wiffle Ball field, and that’s kind of cool.

 Curt, you were talking about the hockey skills competition. Do you see any tweak in the future to the MLB All‑Star Weekend where a similar skills competition is added, perhaps to the pitching side to highlight some of the better pitchers, or do you feel that’s possibly something that would be fought given the protection around arms these days?

 CURT SCHILLING:  Yeah.  I always wanted to see it.  I always wanted to be at the All‑Star Game and have a controlled competition with Maddux or a velocity competition with somebody, but for the exact reason you stated.  When you think about the money that is invested in just one guy, and now you’re looking at a Max Scherzer who has $200‑something million dollars.  That will never happen from a pitchers perspective, which is unfortunate.

I get it, but you’re also asking ‑‑ hitting is so different because Aaron will tell you, you can go out and take batting practice, three, four, five times a day at different times.  You might be tired at the end.  You can’t go out and throw four or five bullpens.  Well, you can, if you’re playing in Japan.  But it just doesn’t work.

Maybe we’d see a base‑running competition or something like that.  But, same thing.  I mean, if you’re the Angels and Mike Trout pulls up lame on a speed contest to first base and he’s out 6 to 8 weeks, that’s a problem, right?  I think it’s one of the reasons why you see the Pro Bowl for the NFL is at the end of the season.

And in hockey, the only thing I would tell you is the All‑Star Game itself in hockey is the way it is for that very reason.  Guys don’t want to get hurt in an exhibition.  The other thing is this game actually has residual effects.

The home team for the World Series, which I always thought was a pretty big deal, is decided.  I still think that there needs to be some maneuvering around that and adjusting to that, but those are all factors that factor in.

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Media contacts: Ben Cafardo at 860-766-3496 or ben.cafardo@espn.com (@Ben_ESPN);

Gianina Thompson at 860-766-7022 or gianina.thompston@espn.com (@Gianina_ESPN).

 

ESPN to Showcase Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball July 26

ESPN announced today it has made its game selection for the July 26 edition of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell: the Detroit Tigers and All-Star Jose Iglesias will visit the Boston Red Sox and All-Star Brock Holt at Fenway Park. All Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell telecasts start at 8 p.m. ET and are also available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and via WatchESPN.

Scheduled commentators

Dan Shulman, in his fifth year as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball, will provide commentary with analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney. Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton will describe the action for ESPN Radio.

Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet will precede the game with a one-hour, pre-game show at 7 p.m. The host, Adnan Virk, will be joined by analyst Aaron Boone and reporters Tim Kurkjian and Nicole Briscoe.

On deck – the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the St. Louis Cardinals, July 12, on Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.

 Sunday Night Baseball upcoming schedule:

Date Game
July 12 St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates presented by Taco Bell
July 19 Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim presented by Taco Bell
July 26 Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox presented by Taco Bell

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Media contacts: Ben Cafardo at 860-766-3496 or ben.cafardo@espn.com (@Ben_ESPN);

Gianina Thompson at 860-766-7022 or gianina.thompston@espn.com (@Gianina_ESPN).

Notes from Turner Sports’ 2015 Sunday MLB on TBS Media Conference Call

mlb-on-tbs

Notes from Turner Sports’ 2015 Sunday MLB on TBS
Media Conference Call

 

Sunday MLB on TBS will return July 12 with the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez visiting the Boston Red Sox and David Ortiz at 1:30 p.m. ET.  Three-time Sports Emmy Award winning commentator Ernie Johnson will provide play-by-play for the game, seen locally in the Boston market, alongside veteran MLB on TBS analyst Ron Darling.

The following week, Sunday MLB on TBS will feature a match-up of current National League division leaders as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Yasiel Puig visit the Washington Nationals and Bryce Harper on July 19 at 1:30 p.m., with the telecast shown locally in Washington, D.C.  Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. will join Johnson and Darling in the broadcast booth.

TBS is entering its 8th consecutive year of live MLB game coverage, with a lineup featuring regular season telecasts each Sunday afternoon and an extensive MLB Postseason schedule including the exclusive presentation of the National League Wild Card Game, both National League Division Series and the National League Championship Series this year.

Notes from today’s media conference call, featuring Ripken, Darling and 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee Pedro Martinez:

Ripken on the season’s most interesting storylines: “The Minnesota Twins are the big surprise.  I don’t think anyone expected them to play as well as they’ve played.  [Rookie Manager] Paul Molitor has done a fantastic job and seems like exactly what they needed.  They’re back again, they are always a good story as a small market team making good baseball decisions and baseball evaluations, putting a team together that’s competitive, similar to the Rays.  They will be fun to watch and see if they can keep it going in the second half.  The Oakland A’s are good, and you scratch your head and wonder why they aren’t winning.  The answer there is how important the defensive execution is in one run games and putting yourself in a position to win and developing momentum through their defense.  They are a good club, and it will be interesting to see what happens with them, if they make moves.  Billy Beane is always entertaining to try and predict [what he will do].  It will be fun to see their direction in the second half.”

Martinez on the season’s biggest surprise: “I was very sarcastic about them, so I have to tip my hat to the Houston Astros.  I kept saying no, no, they’re going to land.  I was the same way about the Mets, they wouldn’t hold on.  Both teams have really surprised me with how they’ve played and how consistent they are.  It’s no coincidence that probably the best pitcher in baseball is one of the Houston Astros [left-hander Dallas Keuchel]. I was sarcastic about them but they proved me wrong in the first half and now I have to believe the second half they will keep on playing baseball the way they have.”

Darling on the first half’s standout performers: “Josh Donaldson having an MVP year, he’s become one of my favorites to watch because of his grit and determination and Toronto is better for it…[Houston’s] Carlos Correa…is one of the brightest shortstop prospects we’ve seen in quite some time…We’re talking [a talent level] like the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers and Manny Machados.  The future of the game has some great young stars in it.”

Darling on the All-Star Final Vote candidates: “I’m lucky enough to watch [Mets closer Jeurys] Familia every day and he’s had an amazing year.  I think it’s going to be difficult for him to garner enough votes to beat out [Dodgers’ ace Clayton] Kershaw or [Rockies’ shortstop Troy] Tulowitzki.  He didn’t get the closer job until Mejia was suspended, and once he got it, he’s been as good as anyone in baseball.  He has seven saves of more than an inning, which is unheard of. He’s gone above and beyond and I’d like to see him rewarded because of that.  I’ll stick up for [Yankees’ outfielder Brett] Gardner in the American League, I hope he [wins the vote].  They’ve both been their team MVPs and it would be nice if they were rewarded for that.”

Ripken on the Final Vote: “Mine are more sentimental choices.  I know that the game matters for home field advantage in the World Series and if I’m in the manager’s seat I’d look at the make-up of the club and add a specialty piece.  I can’t imagine the way that Clayton Kershaw’s pitched the last few years [penalizing him for] looking a little bit human this year…I would vote for him and his body of work.  Brian Dozier from Minnesota, I really enjoy watching him play and compete.  He jumps out at me, but it’s not to slight anyone else on the list.”

Martinez on the Final Vote: “I have to agree with Ron on Familia because, when you look at the numbers, you don’t really stop to think of the importance he has had for the Mets.  The Mets had [reliever] Bobby Parnell go down, then [closer] Jenrry Mejia came up and got suspended.  If Familia wasn’t there, where would the Mets be, regardless of [Matt] Harvey and [Jacob] deGrom and those guys?  The kid has done an outstanding job and because of the importance of what he means to the team and how steady he has been, I think he deserves a chance.  On the other side, Dozier has done some unbelievable things for the Minnesota Twins and probably the biggest reason they are having the success they are having this year is because of what he does.”

Martinez on his upcoming Hall of Fame induction: “I’ve always been a fan of expressing what I feel at the time.  I had a draft of things and people I wanted to mention that I couldn’t have forgotten that have influenced me and my career and my life.  Things I wanted to say to the fan bases, but I’ll be speaking from my heart.  I’m anxious to see what it’s going to be like.  For Latinos and Dominicans, it’s not every day you get a Hall of Famer.  It’s been 32 years for a Dominican.  It’s really important to acknowledge that and maybe a lot of Dominicans will show up in Cooperstown.  We are different, we are loud, we have drums and merengue and I’m interested in seeing those things.  I did not know [the preparation] was going to be so much work.”

Ripken on his memories of facing 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Randy Johnson: “I’m thankful I was a right-handed hitter.  As tall as he was, it felt like he reached halfway to home plate before he delivered the ball.  His velocity was really high and there was a shortened time when you could see the ball.  I couldn’t imagine hanging in with his three-quarter delivery [as a left-handed hitter].  He was as tough as anyone, tough competitor, his velocity was maintained all game…Randy was an early two-pitch guy, he didn’t need to change up.  His slider was the speed of everybody else’s fastball.  I guess the best compliment you can pay is that I always liked to see the papers and see that he pitched the day before he was coming to town…It was not an easy day when you were facing Randy.”

Ripken on the value of winning a championship when weighing free agency decisions: “I think there’s a lot of considerations when you think about your career that don’t always revolve around money.  It’s where you want to play.  I played in my hometown and we went through some major rebuilding processes.  Even through those, I wanted to stay here and get through those and back to the World Series.  There are a lot of considerations, the money being what it is, you have choices in how much you make.  Sometimes people say, ‘How much money is enough?’ It depends on situation and what your needs are.  I applaud people thinking about their life instead of their job just in terms of money.”

Martinez on money as a deciding factor in free agency: “I had to really think of what I was doing and you have to think about the market.  The Players Association is really strong and works together like a wolf pack.  I became a free agent in two years that were a turning point for baseball in terms of the market.  I had to be careful how I chose because it would affect the market.  If I take a pay cut, from there on, everything else goes down.  Thank God I never was in a position where I had to take a big chunk of money off my salary to go somewhere.  The ring I got in 2004 is priceless to me.  It doesn’t matter what you give me, how much money, I would take my ring.”

Martinez on the development of Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer: “I’ve seen him develop the last few years and it seems like he’s growing in front of our eyes.  Each time you see him, something is improving.  I’m extremely proud that he’s following my footsteps and somehow I’ve influenced his talent.  I’m really proud he’s looking up to me as someone to emulate.  He has no ceiling for improvement.  But I don’t know how the Rays do it.  It seems like every year they have a special rookie that comes up and becomes that mega-star.  I hope they keep Archer for a long time because that kid is really special.  His strength, durability and mechanics are getting better.  I see a determination in him that I don’t see every day when it comes to pitching.”

Darling on Archer as a student of the game: “I think there’s thousands and thousands of kids that emulate Pedro and what he’s done.  The thing I love about Archer is that in this day and age where everyone has to act the same, the great thing that separated Pedro from a lot of pitchers was his passion for the game, and Archer has the same.  He’s a free spirit, has great passion, he stomps around the mound and is a great competitor.  Sometimes he wears his heart on his sleeve, but so be it, I love to see that instead of everyone playing everything close to the vest.  He’s a fun watch and baseball is an entertaining game and there’s none more entertaining than Mr. Archer.”

Ripken on Alex Rodriguez’s first half: “I think all of us could agree that what Alex has done in the first half has surprised us.  He’s been nothing short of amazing.  I kind of think that the All-Star team isn’t always based on someone’s first half performance.  A lot of times you’ll pick your All-Stars because they are All-Stars for their career.  Based on his first half numbers, he’s very deserving.”

Ripken on his impressions of the Baltimore Orioles: “They’ve been hit with the injury bug and somehow they find a player to contribute and get them to where they need to be.  You know how good Buck Showalter is as a manager at finding different talent and handling the bullpen.  Zach Britton and Darren O’Day as All-Stars, it’s really indicative of how great they’ve been at the back end of the bullpen.  Their numbers are extraordinary.  I think a lot of people were concerned that they lost Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in the off-season, where was the offense going to come from…They are in a particularly good position now having weathered some of the injuries with Matt Wieters and Jonathan Schoop back.  I think they’re positioned pretty well and I’m not surprised about four All-Stars, they’ve got a good ball club.”

Ripken on Chicago Cubs’ group of talented young infielders: “I kind of laugh because everyone was a shortstop at one point in their life…I think it’s a really good problem to have.  Kris Bryant has continued to amaze.  I haven’t gotten to watch him in person closely yet but I’d like to soon.  He’s a big guy, seems to be under control at all times.  His approach and the way that he takes it in stride are amazing to me.  They are all really, really talented players.  You have to find a mix and match to get them to all play together.  I think all teams would be lucky to have those choices.”

Ripken on his memories of playing with Martinez in the 1999 All-Star Game: “The whole All-Star Game in Boston, there’s a lot of really great memorable moments from that experience.  Very rarely do you get pumped up and psyched at the All-Star Game, especially if you’ve had a few under your belt, but the adrenaline was flowing really good.  It was fun to be on that side of it.  I’m glad I wasn’t trying to face Pedro.  It was a much more fun environment and there was this great excitability different than the other All-Star Games.  It was fun to be part of that.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR.

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