Friday, October 27, 2017

To Charge Or Not To Charge?...To Ram Or Not To Ram?...: Those Are My NFL In Los Angeles Team Fan Support Questions.

Photo Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia
And
Jeffrey Beall under CC BY 4.0 License.

Photo Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia
And
CASportsFan under CC BY-SA 4.0 License.


Yes it's true! The world of Shakespearean literature titles and the sports blogging universe that is known as Tim's Sports World have finally come together and crash landed into each other for the first time in history! How is that for hyperbole?

All kidding aside that comes with making up an admittedly cheesy Shakespearean sports post title pun, one of the best things for me about watching football games in the National Football League (NFL) and growing up in the city of Los Angeles in the '90's was having the freedom to choose which team I wanted to root for or not root for.

During this time, there were (and still are) friends and family members of mine who are fans of the Raiders, 49ers and Rams and Cowboys and Chargers respectively.The list is somewhat lengthy and mostly includes my mother Letty's friends and family.

As far as I know, two out of the three uncles on her side of my family have been lifelong fans of the Raiders going all the way back to when they were in Los Angeles in the 1980's and 1990's. Another lifelong friend of my mom's family is a fan of the Rams, so he has already staked his claim i this discussion most likely. Another uncle and a cousin also on my mom's side of the family are fans of the 49ers and Cowboys respectively. There is also another cousin in my mom's family whose husband and her family are fans of the Chargers. At least they were fans of the Chargers when the team was still in the city of San Diego which was pretty close to where they live in Oceanside. Now that the Chargers have moved to Los Angeles as of the 2017 NFL season, I don't know for sure if those members of my family are still fans of the team now that the team has since been relocated to Los Angeles. If I had to guess, I would venture to say that they are still fans of the Chargers but who knows? Lastly, on my mom's side of our family, there is one other cousin who does have a favorite football team like I used to for the most part, but like me, his favorite team is not and has never been a part of the Los Angeles or the state of California sports scene. That team would be the Kansas City Chiefs! To this day, I have never quite figured out how the fandom for the Chiefs came to be a reality for him? Then again, I don't think that I have ever asked him how became a fan of the Chiefs so that might have something to do with me not knowing about his story as a Chiefs fan living in L.A.!

Taking a quick look at the intensity level of NFL fandom on my dad's side of the family, other than my dad who was a fan of the 49ers before I was born and also while I was growing up and my aunt and her family who are fans of the Chargers, I'm not really sure if anyone else besides them are big fans of the NFL and the sport of football in general.

As for me, as a kid growing up with a huge interest in sports by mostly watching them on T.V., I started out as a Dallas Cowboys fan when I started watching football games many years ago. Approximately, at the same time that I started to get interested in following the Cowboys was also around the same time that they started going downhill after parting ways with head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. Perhaps I was partly influenced to be a fan of the Cowboys as a result of the team's overall success back then and I was also most likely influenced by my cousin that I mentioned up above earlier who was also a fan of the Cowboys.

Since that period of time has come and gone, I have not had what you would call a legitimate or real rooting interest in any NFL team to be honest with you. As I mentioned above however, the fact that I don't actually have a favorite NFL team that I root for is something that has not really bothered me all that much since I have really liked having the freedom of watching football games and not having a dog in the fight so to speak. it is also worth mentioning that since I don't really have a favorite NFL team that I root for, my stress levels from watching the games are very low as compared to when I watch an Angels game in Major League Baseball (MLB) for example.

Jumping ahead to the NFL games that I watch presently, right now I don't really watch an entire football game in its entirety all the way through. These days, in order to quench my thirst or appetite for watching football games, my family and I have the NFL RedZone channel as part of our  TV multi sports channel viewing package from Dish Network. The great thing about the channel is that instead of focusing the viewer's attention on a single Nfl game, the channel bounces around from game to game. If you are not a fan of any particular football team or you don't have any rooting interest in any specific game, then I highly recommend that you get the NFL RedZone channel if you don't have it already to begin with.

With regards to me being able to keep track of what goes on during each and every NFL game on Sundays on the NFL RedZone channel, I should also mention that it can be a very tough balancing act in trying to watch the channel at the beginning of each season in September and into October due to the conflicting schedule of MLB games in September and October at the same time as well. Since baseball is by far my most favorite sport to watch and thusly has my top viewing priority and attention, once the regular season and the playoffs schedule wraps up in the sport of MLB, it then becomes much easier for me to give more of my full and undivided attention to watching NFL games and the NFL RedZone channel.

In terms of trying to figure out for me which of the two football teams now located here in the Los Angeles to possibly support as a fan, each one has its own share of pros and cons. For the Rams, since they have moved back to the city of Los Angeles after spending many of the last few years in St. Louis until now, they have not experienced a whole lot success as a sports team franchise since moving back to Los Angeles in 2016. In 2016 the Rams finished their season with a final win-loss record of 4 wins and 12 losses after getting off to a 4 win and 9 loss start to that season under the team's then head coach at the time named Jeff Fisher. Fisher was then subsequently fired by the team after that very slow 4 and 9 start and was replaced by John Fassel on an interim head coaching basis for the rest of the 2016 season. At the time that Fisher was replaced by Fassel as the interim head coach in 2016, Fassel served as the Rams special teams coach going all the back to the 2012 season. So far in the 2017 season, the Rams have a record of 4 wins and 2 losses and are in first place in the NFC West division under yet another new head coach in Sean McVay.

When looking at the prospects of possibly supporting the Chargers football team as a fan, one important factor for me does play a very big part in deciding whether or not I will support or root for them. That is the fact that until they made the move to Los Angeles for the beginning of the 2017 NFL season, the Chargers didn't really have a very long, rich and memorable history in Los Angeles other than in 1960 when they were a team of the American Football League (AFL) during their first year of existence. To be a new team in Los Angeles, unless you have had my undying and faithful devotion previously as a fan, you will probably not be given my full and undivided attention after a full season of playing in a new city such as Los Angeles. Maybe with the more time and years that the Chargers spend as a team here in Los Angeles, I might possibly decide to root for them if they become a successful sports team here in Los Angeles.

Having taken all of the above into consideration on this fan support and rooting Los Angeles football team question, it seems to me that the safest bet for me to go with right now would be the Los Angeles Rams! On the other hand however, I never really had any fan allegiance whatsoever to begin with when the Rams were in Los Angeles during their first go around in the City of Angels. To that I say why couldn't team owners Al or Mark Davis of the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders  let cooler heads prevail during that team's relocation negotiations over the last several years and move that franchise back to Los Angeles?! I'm sure the Black Hole bandwagon would have and maybe still has enough room to add someone who could be a possible new team fan member like me to the club!

Tim Musick
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved. 





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Small Step For The NHL And The NFL In Las Vegas...Two Giant Leaps For The Golden Knights And Raiders In Sin City

T-Mobile Arena-Home arena of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Photo Courtesy of:Wikimedia And Tomas Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
underCC BY-SA 2.0 License.

As the year 2017 continues to roll along, the professional sports landscape will also be undergoing some major changes that has never been seen before. Specifically, those major landscape changes will occur during the upcoming month of October and no it has nothing to do with a new playoff format being implemented by a certain sports league or anything like that.

The big piece of sports news to watch and keep our eyes this time around during the upcoming month of October is that is supposed to be the time when the latest and newest major league professional sports expansion franchise known as the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League (NHL) will have their arrival in the sports world and will subsequently become the first ever professional sports team in the history of any of the core four North American major league sports leagues to call the city of Las Vegas home.

What is even more surprising to me about this Las Vegas sports scene thing as a whole is that it is the NHL that will be taking the first brave and bold steps into Sin City where traditionally what happens there supposedly stays there. If you would have asked me my thoughts about which of the big core four North American major league sports leagues would have gotten a team to Las Vegas first, my answer most definitely would not have been the NHL! I would have actually thought that either the NFL or NBA would have been the first professional sports leagues to bring a team to Las Vegas either through relocation or expansion.

A case could also be made that Major League Baseball (MLB) could have and should have been among the first of the four professional major league sports entities to consider the possibility of having a team franchise there, but given how slowly the process goes with regards to other topics of discussion in MLB and how quickly or not those discussions seem to progress and come to fruition, such as the implementation of instant replay and the recent changes to the intentional walk procedures that have been put in place over the last few years as well as already having a minor league team in Las Vegas with the Las Vegas '51's, then it is easy to see why MLB has not done much up to this point as far as looking into the possibility of having their own major league team there is concerned. Facetiously as a huge fan of the sport myself, it's worth some time considering that at least it is good to know that MLB is still doing a very good job of keeping up the traditional view of itself as the slow evolving game that in general tends to move new things and trends along at a snail's pace.

Joe Maloof of the Maloof Family.


The credit for such a groundbreaking sports story in the history of Las Vegas goes to inaugural team owners Bill Foley and the Maloof Family. Foley will reportedly serve as the majority owner of the team with a 70% ownership stake in the team with the Maloof Family owning the remaining 30% of the team.  What is even more surprising to me about the whole thing is that it is the NHL that will be taking the first brave and bold steps into Sin City where traditionally what happens there supposedly stays there.

If you would have me my thoughts about which of the big core four North American major league sports leagues would have gotten a team to Las Vegas, my answer definitely would not have been the NHL! I would have actually thought that either the NFL or NBA would have been the first professional sports leagues to bring a team to Las Vegas either through relocation or expansion.

But upon further consideration a professional sports league like the NHL might just be the perfect guinea pig to test just how viable and popular a professional sports team in Las Vegas can be. probably due to the fact that the NHL is generally considered to be the least popular of the four major league professional sports leagues in North America behind the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

For the purposes of playing a little bit of a Devil's Advocate scenario in this particular situation, if having a professional sports franchise in Las Vegas from either one of the core four North American major league sports leagues doesn't work out for some reason or another, (which I think will not be the case most likely), then we can at least take some comfort in knowing that such an experiment has already been done over the course of the next few years starting in 2017 and onward and depending on how well or not so well it turns out in regards to the futures of both the NHL and the NFL, then we can more easily determine if the Las Vegas sports scene as a whole could be considered a success or not for the potential futures of the other big professional sports leagues such as Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer (MLS) in Las Vegas.

Hypothetically speaking, if it turned out to not be a success with the the NHL, then the other leagues would probably most certainly reconsider any future plans that they may have in Las Vegas based on how successful or not the NHL and the NFL both are during their time there. As I've already mentioned above however, hopefully it won't turn out to be the most extreme worst case scenario of absolute failure over the next few years for the future of sports in Las Vegas and it is a prosperous future for the entirety of the sports franchise landscape over there for many years to come!

While I see no reason about why having a professional sports team or franchise in Las Vegas won't be successful in the near future or in the long run as well, I can certainly understand why the other professional leagues aside from the NHL and the NFL would be a little gun shy at first about breaking new ground in one of the most famous and well known gambling capitals of the world due to the potential conflict of interest ramifications that would potentially arise from such a partnership between the city and the leagues or teams which I will detail a little further later on in this post.    

At this time I would also like to offer my sincerest apologies to any soccer fans out there who might feel bummed or slighted in any way about being left out of the discussion when it comes to talking about which sports leagues are generally considered to be the most popular in North America but it's just a simple fact that professional soccer leagues like Major League Soccer (MLS) and other soccer leagues from around the world  still have quite a ways to go to catch up in terms of overall fan popularity.    

Speaking of other teams and professional sports leagues who also have big plans to move to Las Vegas in search of a new home, the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) will soon follow suit along with the Golden Knights when they themselves will be relocated to Sin City as well by the year 2020. Hopefully there will be a day in the future when the city of Las Vegas will have a professional sports franchise from every major league sport in North America to call its own, MLS included (even though more than likely, I probably would not be very interested myself in following along with any potential games or seasons that a prospective MLS franchise in Las Vegas would play.)

If I had to offer up my own prediction on which team will have the most success in Las Vegas between the Golden Knights and the Raiders to start out, I would put my money on the Raiders to have more success initially. Since the Golden Knights are going to be an expansion team from the start of their history, they will more than likely be facing an uphill battle during the first few years of the teams existence. On the other hand, given how the timeline of events should work out for both teams, it is entirely possible that the Golden Knights could already be quite a successful franchise in Las Vegas by the time the Raiders arrive as new residents of Las Vegas in 2020. You would figure that having a three year head start on the proceedings over the Raiders can only help  and hopefully not hurt the Golden Knights cause during that period of time.  

The upcoming arrival of two of the four big name professional sports leagues is big news in itself because for many years and decades previously until now, the only professional sports teams of any kind in Las Vegas were of the minor league variety. Until the Golden Knights arrive later this year in Las Vegas and begin their inaugural 2017 season, the only professional sports team that currently calls Las Vegas home is the Las Vegas 51's of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) at the Triple-A (AAA) level of Minor League Baseball (MiLB).

As I alluded to above earlier in this post, the biggest and most obvious reason why Las Vegas has not had a major league franchise team yet up to this point is most likely because of the city's well known reputation as a gaming and gambling mecca throughout the world.

As a sports fan like me, it should be easy to understand why Las Vegas's reputation as a gambling mecca has made each of the four major North American professional sports leagues a little apprehensive over the course of the last several years, decades and centuries about having any major league professional sports team in Las Vegas up to this point in time. That is most likely due in large part to the possible (perceived and or otherwise) conflict of interest aspect of the relationship there could be between any of the four major league professional sports  and Las Vegas's casino gaming industry on the whole.

On the other hand, now that the world and society in general has evolved and continues to evolve in the year 2017 and beyond in the 21st century, as a fan it's nice to see that as of right now, at least 2 of the 4 professional major league sports leagues such as the NHL and the NFL are getting smart, brave and possibly bold enough to venture into the new, exciting and yet uncharted territory that is the Las Vegas major league professional sports landscape over the next few years to come. Add to that the fact that the gaming and gambling industry as a whole has already made a ton of money over the years for itself on live sporting events' betting, that should provide even more incentive and be all the more enticing for each of the remaining major league sports (MLB, NBA and MLS) to have their own potential expansion franchise or team relocation move there sometime in the near future hopefully.

With that in mind, I would just like to say that for Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS), it is now up to you and it's your move next to determine what kind of future, if any, your respective leagues will have in the city of Las Vegas. Your time on the Sin City Major League Sports Clock starts now!

Tim Musick
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved.







Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Top 10 MLB Network Insiders And Contributors Right Now

As inspired by MLB Network's Top 10 Right Now Series on the best players at each position in the game today, my version of the MLB Network Top 10 Right Now Series is back once again ranking the on-air talent as broken down in each specific category based on their respective job descriptions of Hosts, Analysts, and Insiders and Contributors.  Following the model of the real Top 10 Right Now series, the final installment will focus on the Insiders and Contributors of MLB Network. These are the guys who are responsible for reporting the latest news such as trades, free agent signings or any other important news going on throughout the year in Major League Baseball.

NOTE: Insiders And Contributors placement in rankings is based on their completed body of work and overall performance during the 2016 Major League Baseball regular season as well as the 2017 Hot Stove off season. 

Photo Courtesy of:
Wikimedia 
and
Thousandrobots
under
CC BY-SA 3.0 US License.

1. Ken Rosenthal-You read that right! Ken Rosenthal is a champion once again in 2017. The FOXSports.com Senior Baseball writer and MLB Network Insider continued his dominance at the head of the MLB Network Insiders and Contributors class in 2016 and he's off to a good start so far in 2017.

Having been with MLB Network since its debut season in 2009, Ken Rosenthal has maintained a level of consistency across a wide array of the network's programming. The long list of programming appearances throughout Rosenthal's career at MLB Network includes appearances on MLB Tonight, Hot Stove and occasionally on MLB Central, The Rundown and MLB Now.  On the off season morning program Hot Stove, Rosenthal's Insider talent are evident on the Leading the League segments where he provides the latest news and most up-to-date information on any and free agent signings and trade rumors. It should also be noted that Ken does a very good job at following one of the more important rules in journalism by giving proper credit to any other reporters or insiders who may have reported on a particular story or news item before he did.

2016 was a year of special circumstances and was particularly noteworthy in Major League Baseball towards the end because of the expiration of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. Like all of the other network's Insiders and Contributors on this list, Rosenthal put in a lot of work and did a very good job in covering all that happened during the labor negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.  Luckily for fans of Major League Baseball and MLB Network like myself, we won't have to worry about hearing too many discussions about any potential labor disputes or disagreements for at least five more years through the 2021 season. On the other hand, it would have been interesting to see how the network would have gone about filling its airtime had a lockout occurred. Thankfully that didn't happen and fans and employees of  the network can keep calm and carry on with their business as usual.

A few more things that further solidify Rosenthal's spot at number one the list are his excellent weekly columns and stories he writes for FOXSports.com which he frequently refers to during his numerous programming appearances on MLB Network and his on-location live reporting duties from the annual General Manager meetings as well as the Winter Meetings and Spring Training each year.

In addition to all of that, Rosenthal also served as one of the the field reporters for FOX Sports during their coverage of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. As a field reporter for FOX, Rosenthal has become well known for his Bow Tie For A Cause movement in which he wears various bow ties that help support and spread the word of various charitable organizations such as the ALS, Alzheimers, American Diabetes and American Heart Associations just to name a few.

Lastly, at the end of July each year, Rosenthal takes part in the network's coverage of the trading deadline letting viewers in on the latest news about which players may or may not be changing uniforms in the middle of the season from a non-contender to a contender and vice versa.

At the start  of the 2017 new year, Ken took part in the Insiders View Hall of Fame special on MLB Network where he discussed the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot and class. As a baseball writer and an actual member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), Mr. Rosenthal does have a vote for the Hall of Fame. He also took part in the network's exclusive coverage of the actual Hall of Fame announcement on January 18. He has also ventured out to Spring Training in Arizona for its first week of action to do some live reports at a few of the team training camps across the Cactus League for the Hot Stove morning show.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2017, the only question will be if he will still be on top for a third year in a row? Only time, effort and hard work will tell. One thing that is certain is that the rest of the Insiders and Contributors field will have their work cut out for them if they want to dethrone the now 2-time champion of the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now.
  
2. Jon Heyman-Retaining the number two spot on this year' installment of the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now is Jon Heyman. Another one of the network's original Insiders from 2009, Jon Heyman also serves as a writer for Today's Knuckleball and FanRag Sports.

As an MLB Network Insider, Heyman offers his own fair share of insider news on MLB Network's various programs such as MLB Tonight, MLB Now, The Rundown and Hot Stove. On Hot Stove, Heyman sometimes fills in for Ken Rosenthal during the Leading the League segments. Sometimes he even beats Ken Rosenthal to the punch in reporting on various trades and free agent signings. Like all other Insiders as well, Heyman was present for the network's coverage of the 2016 Trade Deadline and the 2016 Winter Meetings in Washington D.C.

In 2017, Heyman also took part in the network's coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame election announcement where he discussed his ballot.

Photo Courtesy of:
Wikimedia
and
Caryn Rose
under
CC BY 2.0 License.

3. Tom Verducci-The Sports Illustrated (SI) writer comes in at number three on the list once again. As a writer for Sports Illustrated, Verducci is well known for his annual article called The Year-After Effect. Specifically, the Year_After Effect looks at what kind of impact an increase in a pitcher's innings workload will have on them as compared to the previous year.  That increase in a pitcher's innings can lead to a greater risk of an injury or regression on a pitcher's arm or possibly any any other part of their body such as a shoulder or leg.

During the 2016 season, Verducci was a part of the MLB Tonight crew throughout the season at various times. He also continues to make occasional appearances on MLB Now and Hot Stove. Unlike Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, Verducci does not contribute to the Leading the League segments of the program.  When he is on the Hot Stove program, he usually only appears on one segment only either in the first or second hour of the show discussing a variety of topics.

Having said that, Verducci's working resume in 2016 and so far in 2017 is still quite impressive. As I mentioned above, Tom Verducci put in time on MLB Tonight in 2016. In 2016 he continued his duties with FOX Sports as a color analyst and field reporter.

He also has a new book coming out in March of this year called The Cubs Way in which he chronicles the Cubs postseason playoff run to their first World Series title in 108 years.

Lastly like most of the other Insiders on this list, Verducci also has a vote for the Hall of Fame each year. Not only did he take part in the network's coverage of the Hall of Fame election announcement this year but he was also part of the panel that participated in the Insiders View network special about the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. During the Insiders View program, Verducci went on the record to say that he would never vote for any players who have been connected to the usage of Performance Enhancing Drugs during their playing career.  Regardless of how you might feel about those players, Verducci deserves a lot of credit for being so open and transparent as possible about his stance on this particular polarizing subject.

4. Jon Paul Morosi-Jon Paul Morosi is the first Insider on this year's list to move up one spot from number five to number four.  Morosi's big contribution to MLB Network over the past year or so has been his numerous and detailed reports about the upcoming 2017 World Baseball Classic that will be held in March before the start of the regular season. Morosi has done so much work reporting on the 2017 World Baseball Classic that they should also give him the official title of World Baseball Classic Insider if they haven't done so already.

Throughout the 2016 regular season and 2016-17 off season, Morosi has made several appearances on MLB Central, The Rundown, MLB Now and Hot Stove with his own World Baseball Classic roster update segments. He even continued the roster update segments from the 2016 Winter Meetings on the Hot Stove morning show.

Jon Paul Morosi is another one of those MLB Network on-air talent employees who also works at the NHL Network in addition to his Insider contributions that he does for MLB Network. At this point I must confess that I haven't actually seen any of the work that Morosi has done for the NHL Network at this point, having mainly been focused on evaluating the broadcasting work he has done for MLB Network.

Unlike most of the other MLB Network Insiders and Contributors on this Jon Paul Morosi has the distinct privilege of being only one of two classified as an Insider of MLB Network to do some of his insider reporting from the comfort of his own home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The bottom line for Jon Paul Morosi is that his overall body of work has remained strong and consistent enough to stay in and even climb up a little bit in this year's rankings of the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now. If he keeps up the good work, I see no reason why he wouldn't be at or anywhere near the top four or five on next year's list.


5. Peter Gammons-Dropping one spot from the last Insiders and Contributors list that I did is Peter Gammons. The fact that Peter Gammons dropped one spot on the countdown doesn't diminish or take away the importance of Mr. Gammons work as an Insider in 2016-17.

During his time at MLB Network since 2010, Peter Gammons has been one of the more consistent Insiders with his extensive resume of programming appearances on the network such as MLB Central, The Rundown, MLB Now, MLB Tonight and Hot Stove.

Gammons also took park in the network's coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame election announcement during the month of January when each member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), revealed their voting ballots. The results of said ballot voting revelations were then debated ad nauseum leading up to the actual announcement. He also gets credit for appearing on the network during their coverage of the 2016 trading deadline last July/August as well as the 2016 Winter Meetings from Washington D.C.

In 2017, he also done a few live reports from various team training camps during Spring Training.  

In addition to appearing across most of MLB Network's various programs, Peter Gammons also has his very own website called Gammons Daily in which he publishes various articles and columns with the latest news on the game of Major League Baseball from his unique perspective.

Gammons has also demonstrated a somewhat hidden talent of guitar playing and vast knowledge of numerous genres of music. In previous years, Gammons has taken part in the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert show playing a Fender Stratocaster guitar with a group of Boston musicians serving as the rest of the band

Peter is also so knowledgeable about music that during most of his Insider appearances on MLB Network, he has his own music segment called Song of the Day in which he gives the viewing audience a single song selection that he has listened  to recently to help get their day started on a positive note.  

Peter Gammons is also the second of the MLB Network Insiders and Contributors to have been given the special accommodation and privilege like Jon Paul Morosi one spot above  of doing most of his Insider reporting segments from his home as well in Cataumet, Massachussetts on the "Gam Cam."

Lastly, Mr. Gammons can serve as the perfect example to Matt Yallof (get well soon) of a big name member of the baseball media who has recovered quite nicely and has done great work since suffering a brain aneurysm almost 11 years ago while still working for ESPN.

6. Joel Sherman-Coming in at number six on the Top 10 Insiders and Contributors Right Now list for the second time in a row is Joel Sherman. In addition to his role as an MLB Network Insider, Joel Sherman is also a baseball columnist for the New York Post.

As an MLB Network Insider, Joel Sherman has showcased his Insider talents and abilities on pretty much all of MLB Network's regular season and off season programming from MLB Central, The Rundown MLB Now and MLB Tonight to Hot Stove. On Hot Stove, Sherman has had the honor of filling in for Ken Rosenthal from the band box of Studio K during the Leading the League segments of the off season morning program.

Like all other MLB Network Insiders in 2016 and 2017, Joel Sherman was also present for the network's coverage of the 2016 trading deadline, the 2016 Winter Meetings and the 2017 Hall of Fame election announcement.

So far in 2017, Mr. Sherman has done a few live reports from Spring Training. I'm pretty sure we the viewers will continue to see that trend being utilized by MLB Network over the next few weeks to come for most, if not all of their Insider reporters and Contributors. If he maintains a strong Insider preence and a good overall performance during the 2017 season, Joel Sherman should be able to climb up a lttle in next year's rankings.

7. Anthony Castrovince-Making his debut on the Insiders and Contributors list at number seven is Anthony Castrovince. Anthony is the first individual on this to serve as a Contributor to MLB Network.

Castrovince has a pretty lengthy writing resume to go along with his duties as an MLB Network contributor. Over the past few years, Castrovince has written numerous articles for MLB.com and Sports on Earth.

As a contributor to MLB Network, Anthony has made several appearances on MLB Central, The Rundown and Hot Stove primarily from his home base in Cleveland, Ohio, often discussing the various articles he has written throughout the regular season and off season.

As the 2017 season gets underway, Castrovince figures to continue being a big part of MLB Network roster of insiders and contributors for what is hopefully many years to come.

8. Bob Nightengale-Coming in at number eight for the first time on the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now countdown is Insider Bob Nightengale.

When he is not doing Insider work for MLB Network, Bob Nightengale works as a Major League Baseball columnist for the sports division of USA TODAY. He is also apparently the chairman of the Arizona chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). With such a job title, one would think that Mr Nightengale also fills out a voting ballot each year for the Hall of Fame and he does. On his Hall of Fame ballot for 2017, Nightengale is just one of a growing number of baseball writers who have started to vote players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens who were suspected of using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS), during their playing career.

Since he came on the scene at MLB Network, Nightengale has done pretty much what any other Insider or Contributor ha done by appearing on a majority of MLB Network's regular season and off season programming consisting of MLB Central, The Rundown MLB Now MLB Tonight and Hot Stove.

As we get closer to the start of the 2017 season, Bob Nightengale is another Insider on this list who could definitely rise in the rankings next year if his overall work and performance remains consistent or gets even better than it already is.

9. Nick Cafardo-Coming in at number nine on the list is another first timer in Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. According to his Twitter page, Cafardo refers to himself as an MLB Network correspondent. For the purposes of this countdown, the title of correspondent is good enough to also qualify for a spot as a Contributor on this list.

In addition to his work at the Boston Globe as a national baseball writer, Cafardo is also a correspondent for the New England Sports Network (NESN), a regional sports network in Boston that televises games for the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins.

As a contributor MLB Network's coverage of Major League Baseball, Nick Cafardo has made several appearances on the network often discussing various news items about baseball. Most of the time, these news items often pertain to stories about what is going on with the Boston Red Sox at any time during a particular season. There are a few exceptions however when the topics of discussion for Cafardo have been about other major league teams besides the Red Sox.

Based on his overall performance on MLB Network over the last few years, Mr. Cafardo figures to still be a big part of the Insider and Contributor scene during the upcoming 2017 season.

10. Tony Massarotti-Rounding out the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now is Tony Massarotti. When he does not appear on our TV screens as an MLB Network Contributor, Massarotti is the host of his own radio show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, Massachusetts alongside Mike Felger.

Massarotti came on the scene as a worthy contributor to MLB Network during the 2016 season when he made a few guest hosting appearances on the network's High Heat show filling in for Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo on certain occasions. He also took part in a few appearances on MLB Network's other programs such as MLB Central.

During his appearances on MLB Central in 2016, Massarotti would come on the show during some of the Get Off My Lawn segments in which he would discuss certain issues or aspects about the game of baseball that would potentially bother him during a particular week in the season.

Interestingly enough, when the Get Off My Lawn segments were originally introduced as part of the MLB Central morning show, the main star of the segment was, and still is, Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo! However if my memory of how certain things unfolded is correct, Russo mentioned during one of his Get Off My Lawn segment appearances that he would only be appearing three times a week or so on the aforementioned segment of the network's regular season morning show.

As the 2017 season get nearer to starting, here's to hoping that we see the network continue to utilize Massarotti in some form or another based on the overall body of good work he did for them as a Contributor in the 2016 season.

Those Who Missed The Cut in 2016-2017:

Nobody missed the cut on this year's list. I even  expanded the list to include/combine the Contributors as part of it because of the fact that MLB Network classifies only a small number of its on-air talent as an actual Insider or Contributor.

The only possible exceptions and omissions that could garner future consideration as an Insider or Contributor are Richard Justice, columnist for MLB.com and Phil Rogers, also a columnist for MLB.com.

In both cases for Justice and Rogers, the competition for the Top 10 spots on the lists was so crowded that unfortunately they were unable to potentially secure a spot somewhere in the Top 10 this time around. On future lists however, their respective bodies of work will be taken into account for consideration during the overall evaluation process.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now

As inspired by MLB Network's Top 10 Right Now Series on the best players at each position in the game today, my version of of the MLB Network Top 10 Right Now Series is back once again ranking the on-air talent of MLB Network as broken down by each specific category of the MLB Network employees based on their respective job descriptions of Hosts, Analysts, and Insiders and Contributors.  Following the model of the real Top 10 Right Now series, Part Two will focus on the analysts of MLB Network.

NOTE: Analysts' placement in rankings is based on their completed body of work and overall performance during the 2016 Major League Baseball regular season and postseason as well as the 2017 Hot Stove Off-Season.  

Photo Courtesy of:
Wikimedia
and
Keith Allison on Flickr
under
CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

1. Mark DeRosa-Occupying the top analyst spot on the Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now is Mark DeRosa. Since he came on the scene at MLB Network in 2014, DeRosa has shown excellent baseball analysis skills while appearing primarily on MLB Central during the 2015 and 2016 regular seasons. His work during that time has been so good that first off, he was able to  move up six spots from number seven on the last analysts list I did and second, I wanted to include him in the Hosts' countdown list this time around but his official job description according to the network's website is as an analyst so a analyst he shall be.  

On MLB Central DeRosa takes center stage on fun and informative segments of the program such as the D-Train, Doctor DeRo and DeRo Demo.  In these segments DeRosa gives viewers his unique take on the news around the big leagues by breaking down a different aspect of the game in each of these segments.  The D-Train segments seem to focus on the teams and players who have had some degree of success throughout the season.  The Doctor DeRo and DeRo Demo segments on the other hand focus on what needs to be done to fix any problems a certain player might have throughout the season in Doctor DeRo or what a team needs to get done prior to the July 31st trading deadline for future success in DeRo Demo.  These segments are made even more humorous and wacky in that DeRosa is seen during the opening of each segment dressed as either a train conductor, a doctor about to perform some kind of surgery or a construction worker wearing a hard hat who is ready to demolish a building.

In addition to his MLB Central duties, DeRosa also took part in the network's Spring Training coverage in 2016 for the 30 Clubs in 30 Days programming segments interviewing various players and coaches from around Major League Baseball.

He was also a part of the network's pregame and postgame coverage for the 2016 MLB Playoffs and World Series where the Chicago Cubs broke a 108 year championship drought against the Cleveland Indians that included some on-field demos from Chicago and Cleveland at both Wrigley and Progressive Field.  The  best of those World Series on-field demos for DeRosa was his analysis of Wrigley Field's ivy-covered wall and fence basket where baseballs go to get swallowed up.  He also padded his resume in 2016 with his work at 2016 Winter Meetings in Washington D.C. at the Gaylord National Resort.  The overall body of work throughout the entire baseball calendar year is more than enough for DeRosa to claim the top spot in the countdown for 2016. Looking ahead to 2017, DeRosa should still be at or close to the top of next year's rankings if his overall work and performance remains consistent.

One more thing to think about with regards to DeRosa's potential performance in 2017 and this is totally contingent on how well my favorite team the Angels do in 2017: I hope that we don't have to hear anymore ridiculous DeRo Demo trade proposals involving Mike Trout. I know it might be impossible to fulfill that request given how the team has performed the last few years but it's just something to take into consideration.

Photo Courtesy of:
Wikimedia
and
Craigfnp at the English language Wikipedia
under
CC BY-SA 3.0 License. 

2. Eric Byrnes-Jumping up three spots in the countdown and coming in at a close second place, and I do mean a close second, on the Analyst countdown is Eric Byrnes! Of all the analysts at MLB Network, Byrnes is probably the most Sabremetrically-inclined in his views on the state of today's game of Major League Baseball. To go along with his Sabremetric views of the game, Byrnes was also not shy when it came to expressing his views in favor of an automated strike zone on both MLB Network and in an episode of Real Sports on HBO.  Regardless of how some fans might feel about the possible future of an automated strike zone, there is something to be said about the simple fact that Byrnes is not afraid to mix it up a little in his views and opinions on the game when it comes to his overall strengths as an analyst.

In addition to his strong Pro-Sabremetric views on baseball, Byrnes was also notable in 2016 for his ongoing regular season morning show political campaign to quote "Make MLB Central fun again!" It should also be noted for the record than whenever Byrnes did make an appearance on any of MLB Network's programming in 2016, there was an Unpredictability Factor Added (UFA) (Sabremetric pun intended), that came into play whenever Byrnes was on air because you just never knew what to expect from his overall performance on any given day.  For entertainment purposes the Unpredictability Factor Added (UFA) of Mr. Byrnes is a good thing.

One more thing that helped solidify Eric's standing in the upper portion of the Analysts rankings was his quest to compete in the 2016 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn in Northern California covering a total of 100.2 miles from end to end.  Byrnes' endurance run efforts are chronicled in the documentary film called Diamond To The Rough.

When you put together the entire body of work for Eric Byrnes in 2016, it is somewhat of a shame that the original Top 10 Right Now series doesn't allow for Co-Champions in its Shredder model rankings because the race for the top two spots was that close.  Considering that it was a close call at the top of the rankings, Byrnes has a good chance to claim the top spot next year.        

3. Harold Reynolds-There will be no defending champion in the MLB Network analyst department of this countdown! Also known by the lovable nickname of "HR", Harold Reynolds lands at the number three spot in the latest rankings of the Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now having dropped two spots from last time.  Known for his more old-school views on the game of baseball, Harold Reynolds has been a mainstay with MLB Network since its first year of existence in 2009.  Ever since his MLB Network broadcasting career began, Reynolds has provided his own brand of analysis and commentary on MLB Tonight during the regular season and Hot Stove in the offseason.

He also played a key part in the network's playoff and World Series coverage in 2016.  At the World Series, he continued his excellence as the King of the Diamond Demo with various on-field demonstrations illustrating various plays and strategic moves during the World Series.

Like John Smoltz who also appears on this list, Reynolds also served as a color analyst for some games on FOX Sports alongside Kenny Albert throughout the 2016 season.

4. Carlos Pena-Another newcomer to the countdown, Carlos Pena has quickly risen through the ranks at MLB Network ever since his debut there in 2014.  In 2016 Pena made numerous appearances on MLB Central as a guest analyst in addition to his regular work on MLB Tonight.  Pena also put his stamp on 2016 by starting the #Plakata craze on Twitter whenever there was a good play in a game such as a home run.  In terms of what the word Plakata actually means, I don't think we the viewer have been given official explanation from Mr. Pena up to this point.

In addition to his excellent hitting analysis skills at MLB Network, Carlos Pena also provided some excellent analysis about the relationship between players and umpires during the 2016 postseason in the 2016 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.  Specifically there was a play in Game 4 where Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs disagreed with a strike call by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez.  In his very next at bat, Rizzo apologized to Hernandez for his actions in the previous at bat and both of them moved past that incident without an ejection occurring.  Rizzo even hit a home run later to help his team win the game by a final score of 10 to 2.

For his part in it as an analyst, Pena did an excellent job on putting the spotlight on that particular play in the postseason in a positive way to show that not all interactions between a player and an umpire are bad even if they disagree at times.

Looking ahead to the upcoming 2017 season, Pena's work as an analyst will hopefully still be consistent enough to stay somewhere on the countdown next year.  

5. Al Leiter-Claiming the fifth spot of the Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now is Al Leiter. Leiter is another example of an analyst who made the list this time around after not even being ranked in the previous go around. One of the original analysts for the network since its debut in 2009, Leiter's spot at number five was basically cemented at number five when in addition to his regular work on MLB Tonight and other network programming he was the color analyst for the first Miami Marlins game played after the death of Cuban ace pitcher Jose Fernandez for Fox Sports Florida which was simulcast on MLB Network along with play-by-play commentator Rich Waltz.

In his playing and broadcasting career, Leiter is no stranger to taking part in games that have been played after times of tragedy having been a member of the New York Mets in 2001 when the 9/11 terror attacks took place.  I'm sure that experience helped him with the broadcast on an intangibles level, (which Sabermetrics doesn't measure or account for), considering the circumstances of what happened to Jose Fernandez and Miami Marlins in 2016.

6. Kevin Millar-Dropping three spots, the player who primarily wore number 15 throughout his career and is affectionately nicknamed One-Five because of it is at number six on second ever installment of the Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now. Having been with MLB Network since 2010, Millar is most well known for appearing on Intentional Talk from his home in Austin, Texas alongside Chris Rose and occasionally on MLB Tonight.

On Intentional Talk, Millar and Rose discuss the events of the day in baseball like only they can with fun segments like Kevin's Highlights and Got Heem.  The entertaining duo of Millar and Rose even go the extra mile throughout the year by taking Intentional Talk on the road for the big events in baseball like the All Star Game, World Series and the Winter Meetings.  This should leave little doubt that Kevin Millar has had a big presence with MLB Network since he arrived there almost seven years ago.

Millar also put his Role Model status to good use in 2016 and earned some very valuable Role Model Points (RMP's for those of you who are Sabermetricians ;))  when he and David Ortiz gave a young Rex Sox fan named Maverick Schutte what was most likely an unforgettable experience at Fenway Park last season for the young man.

7. Dan Plesac-Another analyst stalwart from the network's first days in 2009, Dan Plesac checks in at number seven on this installment of the Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now dropping three spots. The fact that Plesac underwent left hip surgery last June didn't do too much damage to his placing on this list.

Sure enough, Plesac made a nice recovery to take part in the network's on-site coverage of the World Series in Cleveland and Chicago and Winter Meetings in Washington D.C. as well as continuing his regular analyst duties on MLB Tonight.

The former pitcher also makes occasional appearances on MLB Now to mix it up with Brian Kenny and on Intentional Talk frequently filling in as a substitute co-host of the program for Kevin Millar. Looking ahead to the 2017 season, I think it would be neat for the MLB Network bosses to consider using Plesac's  vast inventory of knowledge of the game's international players as shown in his comeback video link above in preparation for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.  

8. John Smoltz-Dropping six spots from number two to number eight on the analysts countdown is John Smoltz. The Hall of Famer's overall body of work was still good enough that he didn't get pushed to the Those Who Missed The Cut portion of this countdown list.

Since coming to MLB Network in 2010, John Smoltz has continued to serve as an analyst on MLB Tonight and on select MLB Network Showcase games throughout the regular season.  During the 2016 season, Smoltz was named as the main Color analyst for FOX Sports alongside Joe Buck. Smoltz was lucky enough to be part of the broadcast team for the 2016 World Series on FOX. It is definitely a good thing when certain  MLB Network analysts are allowed to take part in other game broadcasts on other networks to help keep their analysis skills sharp.  

9. Cliff Floyd-Having arrived on the scene at MLB Network in 2013, Cliff Floyd has made it into the top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now with a spot at number nine. During the 2016 regular season, Floyd put in quite a bit of time as a guest analyst on MLB Central alongside Matt Vasgersian, Lauren Shehadi and Mark DeRosa offering his own brand of insight and analysis from a hitters' perspective.

While serving as a guest analyst on MLB Central, Floyd was even given the honor of having his own segment with his name in it called Tough Love With Cornelius Flood.  The Flood surname on the segment is an inside joke that pokes fun at when Floyd was drafted as a player by the Montreal expos and his name was mispronounced as "Flood" when he was selected.  In the Tough Love segments, Floyd took center stage to express his tough love views and opinions on certain teams and players throughout Major League Baseball.

Floyd also spent time on MLB Tonight and also took part in the network's coverage from the 2016 Winter Meetings.  Looking ahead to the 2017 season, Floyd has a very good shot at climbing up a few spots in the future Top 10 edition of analyst rankings.      

10. Sean Casey-Rounding out the Top 10 MLB Network Analysts Right Now is  Sean Casey. Also known as "The Mayor" during his playing career, Casey is one of the original regime of the network's analysts from 2009. Throughout his MLB Network career Sean Casey has provided the loyal viewers with a wide array of funny and entertaining moments.

One such moment from the 2016 season that stands out is when he and Cliff Floyd were doing a fun analysis segment on MLB Tonight called Yearbook Memories in which both analysts were sitting in elementary school desks. During the segment, Casey was trying to get out of the desk and ended up getting stuck in it and fell over onto the studio floor while still in the desk chair.  It's also a good thing that in 2016, there were no incidents reported on involving Casey drilling any of his fellow MLB Network employees in the head while taking batting practice.

Comedic antics aside, Sean Casey also made numerous appearances on MLB Central and MLB Tonight throughout the 2016 season. He also continues to fill in from time to time on Intentional Talk when Kevin Millar is absent.  To top off Casey's slot at number 10 is the fact that he was one of the analysts who took part in the network's 2016 World Series coverage.

Those Who Missed The Cut In 2016-2017:

Bill Ripken
-Bill Ripken was still a steady performer in 2016. In his case, there was just too much competition among the other analysts for him to either retain or improve upon his spot at number six in the inaugural analysts rankings.

Mike Lowell-Like Bill Ripken, Mike Lowell was another MLB Network analyst that fell out of the Top 10 rankings completely who was simply a casualty of stiffer competition among the other analysts at the network who either stepped up their overall analysis game or were good enough in 2016 to claim a spot in the Top 10 this time around after having been previously unranked

Pedro Martinez-Of all the analysts who missed the cut this time around, Pedro Martinez was one of the toughest calls to make. It was so tough that I included him in the rankings when I started making out this year's Top 10 list but in the end, the work of some other analysts was slightly better in 2016. Looking ahead to 2017, based on the work he did while appearing on MLB Tonight in 2016, Martinez has a pretty good chance to go from the those who missed the cut portion of the list to somewhere in the Top 10. It should also be noted that in addition to his appearances on MLB Network, Pedro Martinez also contributes to TBS's coverage of the Major League Baseball posteason.

Ryan Dempster-Ryan Dempster was another MLB Network who did some good work in 2016 who almost made into the Top 10. If he continues to do some more good consistent work in 2017, he and his colorful suits have a good chance to crack into the next Top 10 analyst list of rankings. Hopefully he won't be too busy in 2017 celebrating a World Series championship and working with the Chicago Cubs front office to have a legitimate shot at making the Top 10 list next year.

Tim Flannery-The former third base coach of the San Francisco Giants might have a tough hill to climb with the crowded field of analysts who are already in the rankings and those who are not in the rankings but have a good chance to sneak in and grab a spot next year.

Ron Darling-The case of Ron Darling as an analyst for MLB Network is an intriguing one. While he was included in the last list of analyst rankings at number eight and was given credit for also working as an analyst on TBS's MLB broadcasts and SNY for the Mets, the fact that he works at MLB Network during the off season only did not help him in the rankings this time around. It could also be argued that Pedro Martinez could be penalized as well for working with TBS during the postseason as well, but the advantage for Pedro in future rankings is that he does contribute as an analyst for MLB network during the regular season while Darling does not.

Jim Kaat-Having been with MLB Network since the beginning in 2009, Jim Kaat's main contribution to the network has been as a color analyst for select MLB Network Showcase games. Throughout his time at MLB Network he hasn't appeared on too many of the network's other programs up to this point to merit serious consideration to be in the rankings.

Joe Magrane-Magrane is another MLB Network analyst who has appeared primarily on MLB Tonight since 2009.  He has also done some work for them as a color analyst for some World Baseball Classic games in the past. Where he falls short is the crowded field of competition and the fact that he doesn't contribute all that much to the network's programming during the off season.

Dave Valle-Dave Valle is another of the network's analysts who doesn't really appear and contribute all that much to the network throughout the year.  In 2016, he did appear on MLB Tonight and MLB Now throughout the regular season, but it wasn't enough to be included in the Top 10.

Preston Wilson-Having only been with MLB Network since 2016, Preston Wilson needs to build up his resume of analyst work a little more before being seriously considered for a spot in the Top 10.

Honorable Mention-Darryl Hamilton-R.I.P. to the former MLB Network analyst who tragically passed away suddely on June 21, 2015. After coming in at number ten on the previous analysts rankings countdown, it would have been interesting to see where Hamilton would have ended up on this year's countdown had his life not been cut short at the age of 50.






Tim Musick
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Top 10 MLB Network Hosts Right Now

As inspired by MLB Network's Top 10 Right Now Series on the best players at each position in the game today, my version of the MLB Network Top 10 Right Now Series is back once again ranking the on-air talent as broken down by  each specific category of the MLB Network employees based on their respective job descriptions of Hosts, Analysts, and Insiders and Contributors.  Following the model of the real Top 10 Right Now series, the first installment will focus on the Top 10 Hosts of MLB Network Right Now.

NOTE: Hosts' placement in rankings is based on their completed body of work and overall performance during the 2016 Major League Baseball Regular Season and Postseason as well as the 2017 Hot Stove Off-Season.

2-Time MLB Network Top 10 Right Now Champion Lauren Shehadi.

Photo Courtesy of:
Wikimedia
and
Cbssports under CC BY-SA 3.0 License. 

1. Lauren Shehadi-For the second year in a row, Lauren Shehadi has claimed the top spot in my MLB Network Top 10 Right Now hosts' rankings.  Since her debut at the network in 2012, Shehadi has been a model of consistency showcasing her hosting talents across a variety of the network's regular season programming such as MLB Central during the regular season and Hot Stove in the off season.  In her four years at the network, Shehadi's hosting resume includes MLB Central, The Rundown, Hot Stove, Quick Pitch and MLB Network Countdown for a record five shows hosted during her continuing MLB Network hosting career.

Perhaps the greatest example of this repeat champion's overall performance is her consecutive hosting streak on MLB Central, where since the start of 2015 season, she has never missed an appearance oln the morning show.  Such a streak is reminiscent of Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive games played streak of 2,632 games that lasted for a span of 16 years from May 30, 1982 to September 19, 1998.  Now the only question with respect to Shehadi's current MLB Central streak is just how long will it last? At this rate, loyal MLB Network viewers like myself will likely have to wait for year three of MLB Central to find out our answer.  If her streak continues through the end of the 2016 regular season, it should be up to exactly 600 consecutive hosting appearances.

UPDATE: The streak is still alive after she made her 600th consecutive appearance by my count on the October 5, 2016 broadcast of MLB Central. Even though she still has a ways to go to catch Ripken Jr., the streak is still pretty impressive when you take into consideration that the streak actually started in 2013 when she was the host of The Rundown alongside Matt Yallof.

For the record, it should be noted that Shehadi does take time off during the off season when the network switches its focus from the regular season to the proverbial Hot Stove season of free agent signings and trades.  That means the consecutive hosting streak does not include any hosting appearances during the off season.

During the 2016 postseason Shehadi added on to her number one credentials by serving as the field reporter for MLB Network during the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs and the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs covering the Cubs perspective. After that, she was given the honor and privilege of going back to Chicago to take part in MLB Network's coverage of the Chicago Cubs World Series Victory Parade. To top off Lauren's 2016 performance, she made her first ever Winter Meetings appearance for MLB Network at the 2016 Winter Meetings.

For all other MLB Network hosts looking to move up to the top spot in next year's rankings, all I can say is good luck and bring your 'A' game, because even though her consecutive hosting streak on MLB Central is still intact as of this writing, that doesn't necessarily mean she'll be at the top for a third straight year.  Then again, what sports fan doesn't love a three-peat and the makings of a dynasty?

2. Matt Vasgersian-The other member of the three-headed monster hosting team of MLB Central alongside Lauren Shehadi and Mark DeRosa, Matt Vasgersian lands safely in the number two spot on this year's countdown of the top 10 MLB Network hosts right now.  Vasgersian also serves as a host on MLB Network's offseason show Hot Stove.  On both shows, Vasgersian brings a comedic touch to the proceedings in addition to maintaining a professionalism for the more hard-hitting news and stories of the network's coverage of Major League Baseball.  Extra points for Vasgersian this year for poking fun at the Chris Sale throwback jersey incident by making an appearance on MLB Central in a cut-up suit and tie.  Another memorable moment for Vasgersian came on the 39th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death when Vasgersian dressed up in full King of Rock and Roll garb during the program's musical jukebox segment.  It should be noted that Vasgersian came through for MLB Central viewers by singing a few songs from The King during the segment.

Vasgersian also gets kudos on the countdown for serving as a play-by-play commentator for a select number of MLB Network Showcase games and with Fox Sports in the same role of play-by-play.  In MLB Network's seven years of being on the air, Vasgersian has hosted a record-tying five shows just like this year's repeat champion mentioned above with appearances on MLB Central, Hot Stove, MLB Tonight, MLB Network Showcase and the short-lived Baseball IQ.

3.  Brian Kenny-Climbing up to the third spot on this year's countdown is Brian Kenny.  After making a name for himself at ESPN, Kenny has brought the new-school Sabermetric view of thinking to MLB Network with shows like Clubhouse Confidential and MLB Now.  The introduction of shows dedicated to the new-school of Sabermetrics is a clear example that the network itself isn't afraid to embrace what the future of Major League Baseball has become with a greater emphasis on digging deeper and looking into the statistical numbers to evaluate the greatness of a certain player or team.  Looking to 2017's countdown, Kenny has a good shot at claiming the top spot, particularly if the Sabermetrics movement continues to grow and becomes more widely accepted in the sport.  On top of all that, Kenny serves as the main host of the offseason show that serves as the inspiration and model for this countdown in the Top 10 Right Now series.

Kenny has not only done great work on MLB Network as a host, but he has also branched out in 2016 as an author of the book Ahead of the Curve, which expands on his Sabermetric views on America's National Pasttime.  For anybody who considers themselves an uber baseball fan, I highly recommend adding it to your reading collection.

4. Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo-Dropping a couple spots on the 2016 countdown is perhaps the biggest of MLB Network's "old-school" hosts in Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo.  Even though he dipped a little in this year's rankings, Russo's performance is still fairly consistent to when he debuted as the host of his own show of High Heat on MLB Network in 2014.

The greatest strengths of Russo's old-school hosting talents are his unabashed enthusiasm for baseball and his overall consistency in terms of his thoughts and opinions on the game.  When Russo offers a thought or opinion, there is no doubt at all how passionate he is when offering his two cents on the daily news stories in Major League Baseball, which is still good for fourth place in the countdown.

5. Fran Charles-For the 2016 edition of the countdown, Fran Charles jumps all the way to the number five spot.  Since his debut with the network in 2014, Charles has put together a good resume of work on MLB Tonight and Hot Stove.  He is also one of the main hosts the network has used as a substitute off the bench to host MLB Central in the mornings whenever Matt Vasgersian has been absent, which has been a common theme during the 2016 regular season.  Charles also gets extra kudos for hosting the network's coverage of the passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez from a boating accident on September 25, 2016.  Anytime a news story like that happens, the job of a network or news anchor becomes even more difficult than it already is.  All things considered under the circumstances, Charles did a very good job in covering such a tragic story for the network.  

With all the work he has done on MLB Tonight, MLB Central and Hot Stove over the past year, Fran Charles has solidified his place on the fifth spot in the host countdown for 2016

6. Scott Braun-Scott Braun lands the number six spot on this year's countdown thanks to his body of work during the second half of the 2016 season while hosting The Rundown alongside Kelly Nash. Braun has done an excellent with the hosting duties for The Rundown while filling in for regular host Matt Yallof during the second half of the 2016 season.  Matt Yallof has been absent from MLB Network's programming in the second half of the 2016 season due to a stroke he suffered towards the end of July according to a report from Awful Announcing.  Braun also gets credit for hosting weekend editions of MLB Tonight during the daytime as well as hosting select editions of MLB Network's Strike Zone channel on Tuesday and Friday nights.  Braun's hosting abilities even extend to Spring Training when he serves as a play-by-play commentator on select New York Mets telecasts on SportsNet New York-the regional sports network for the New York Mets.

Braun's talents and skills were also utilized during the 2016 postseason when he was the MLB Network field reporter during the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals and the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs covering the Dodgers.

7. Kelly Nash-In her second year with MLB Network, Kelly Nash moves up a few spots on this year's countdown to number seven.  In her second full year with the network, Nash has showcased her hosting abilities since taking over hosting duties on The Rundown from Lauren Shehadi in 2015.  At the end of each week during the regular season Nash also serves as the main host of Plays of the Week.  She also gets bonus points for appearing on NHL Network from time to time in addition to the work she does on MLB Network.  During the 2016 off season, Nash also made several appearances on the network's off season Hot Stove morning show.

8. Greg Amsinger-Having been with the network since its beginning in 2009, Greg Amsinger falls a few spots in the countdown for 2016.  That is mainly due to the increasing amount of overall competition that MLB Network has among its roster of hosting talent.  Even though he dropped a few spots on 2016's countdown. Amsinger has maintained quite a presence across a majority of MLB Network's programming.  Amsinger's MLB Network hosting resume includes appearances on MLB Tonight as well as hosting the network's coverage from the All Star Game, the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies from Cooperstown in New York, the draft that takes place during June and the postseason coverage.

9. Bob Costas-Another of MLB Network's hosts from the early days, Bob Costas comes in at the eighth spot among the hosts in 2016.  The hosting duties of Costas consists of being the lead host on the offseason shows of Studio 42 and MLB Network Presents.  Costas also serves as the play-by-play commentator on some of the MLB Network Showcase games.  The ranking for Costas would be higher if he didn't go on assignment for NBC to cover a little sporting event known as the Olympics every four years.

10. Heidi Watney-Rounding out the countdown at number 10 in 2016 is Heidi Watney.  Since coming to the network in 2013, Watney has been the main host of Quick Pitch during the regular season.  She also has had occasional appearances on Intentional Talk alongside Chris Rose and Kevin Millar throughout the season and Hot Stove in the offseason.  In 2016 Watney also contributed to the network's Spring Training coverage by conducting interviews with various players and coaches from a variety of team training camps back in March and coverage during the All Star game during the red carpet arrival show when players and their families made their way to Petco Park in July.

Watney was another MLB Network host who was assigned field reporter duties in the 2016 postseason covering the American League Division Series between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox and the American League Championship Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians.

Those Who Missed The Cut:

Matt Yallof-Yallof's absence from this year's countdown was due in large part to the time he missed on the network in the second half while recovering from a stroke that occurred at the end of July. Here's to hoping for a full recovery for the host of The Rundown and a return appearance somewhere on next year's Top 10 list.

Chris Rose-The main host of Intentional Talk fell out of the Top 10 in 2016 mainly due to the amount of hosting candidates whose performance this year was worthy of a spot in the Top 10.  If the countdown had more than ten available spots, then Chris Rose would probably have had a spot this year, but since this countdown only has 10 slots, some of the hosts on the network had to be left off the list.  Better luck next year.

Paul Severino-Another worthy hosting candidate that was simply another casualty of a numbers crunch in 2016 like Chris Rose.  A regular host on MLB Tonight, Severino also serves as a substitute host across most of the network's programming such as The Rundown and Intentional Talk, but Severino will have to wait until 2017 for a shot in the Top 10.

Sam Ryan-While she had a spot on the countdown in 2015, Sam Ryan's body of work in 2016 wasn't enough to crack a spot in the Top 10 for a second consecutive year.  While she serves as the on-field reporter for some of the network's Showcase games, those assignments have decreased for her in the second half of the 2016 season.  Another comparison to her performance in 2015, Ryan hasn't been seen much as the host of weekend editions of Quick Pitch in the second half of the 2016.

Robert Flores-A newcomer to MLB Network in 2016, Robert Flores needs to build up his hosting resume on the network a little bit more for consideration on next year's countdown.  Up to this point, Flores has served as one of the main hosts on MLB Tonight.  Fill-in hosting duties on High Heat and MLB Central from this past season should help his case for next year's countdown but he needs to be given more of these opportunities.  Flores' chances in the 2017 countdown could also be affected by his time spent working on NHL Network in addition to MLB Network but if Kelly Nash can do it, so can you!

Jamie Hersch-Another newcomer to MLB Network in 2016, Jamie Hersch has made a number of weekend appearances on Quick Pitch.  Like Robert Flores, it would be nice if the bosses at MLB Network would expand Hersch' hosting profile beyond Quick Pitch looking ahead to 2017.  Hersch is another MLB Network employee who does double duty on NHL Network, so it remains to be seen what other hosting opportunities come her way on MLB Network next year.


Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Promoting NFL Referees To Full-Time Status Would Be A Good Starting Point To Fixing League's Officiating Shortcomings

One of the more well-known of the NFL'S officials Ed Hochuli is an attorney off the field.
Photo courtesy of:
Wikimedia 
and
Thinh Nguyen
under
CC BY 2.0 License

Unless you've been living under a rock the last few years or so, I don't need to tell you that the National Football League is the most popular sport in terms of the ratings and viewership numbers it generates.  Fans of the gridiron just can't seem to get enough of for whatever reason.  Maybe it's the overall strategy of the game or the hard hits.

The allure of football would lead you to believe that it's decision makers, such as the Commissioner and the Owners would do everything in their power to ensure that the quality of the officials they employ are the best they can be.  Every professional sports league should strive for greatness from their officials. On the other side of the coin, fans know that not all officials have a perfect track record in their career.  

What football fans may not know is that unlike the other Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA) or the National Hockey League (NHL), the officials of the National Football League (NFL) have other jobs and careers in addition to the work they do on the football field.

As I've mentioned before, if you've been paying close attention, one of the things I really look at when watching sports is the work of the officials in charge of making the calls in addition to watching a game for pure entertainment value.  I know that once I really got interested in all things officiating in all the major sports, I was initially surprised by the fact that NFL officials are not employed on a full-time basis.  I must also point out that those who are among the league's best officials have my utmost respect knowing that they are doing the best job they can do while holding down another occupation.

I don't expect to see any immediate changes to the league's officiating procedures and policies on this matter any time soon but it is something worth keeping an eye on in future seasons.  In the meantime, we can continue getting whatever enjoyment you get from the most popular sport in North America. Just remember that the officials are doing the best job they can the next time you feel the urge to put your hands in your head over a blown call for whatever team you root for.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Is The Pinnacle Of Debate For Major League's Baseball's Hall Of Fame

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia and Keith Allison 
under CC BY-SA 2.0 License


During the beginning of each new year, one of the hot topics of Major League Baseball's Hot Stove offseason is the debate over whether or not a certain player's playing career is worthy of Hall of Fame enshrinement.  One thing to remember about being elected into baseball's Hall of Fame is a player has to have at least 75% of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) to get elected.  Another is that a player's time has now been shortened from 15 to 10 years.   As a diehard baseball fan, there are the elite group of players who have gotten elected over the years such as Cal Ripken Jr., Pedro Martinez and most recently Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza who are in the No Doubt category without looking at all the Sabermetric numbers from baseball's new-school approach to evaluating current and former players.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would also be in the No Doubt category if it weren't for cloud of Performance Enhancing Drug suspicion over the course of their current run on the Hall of Fame ballot.  Clemens and Bonds entered 2016 having accumulated 4 years on the ballot.  Under the new rules both Bonds and Clemens have six more years on the ballot for eligibility still needing an additional 30% of the vote per Baseball Reference.  For what's it worth, Piazza was under the cloud of steroid suspicion, but since he has already been elected, it would only be appropriate to move past his credentials given that his case for The Hall is now officially closed with the upcoming induction ceremony in July.

The next category of players seem to fall under the Borderline Category in which the Sabermetric numbers either help or hurt a player's chances at enshrinement.  Players in this category include Trevor Hoffman, Curt Schilling and Edgar Martinez.  The players in this category require a deeper evaluation that the old fashioned eye test doesn't bring.

In the coming years, there's a good chance we will see some of these guys be welcomed into Cooperstown.  By that time, the verdict on the Steroid Era will hopefully become more clear.  For now though, the jury is still out.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.