Friday, February 27, 2015

Top 10 MLB Network Right Now-Analysts

There's a Hall of Famer on the Shredder's analyst list!

Hello and welcome to the third and final installment of Top Ten MLB Network Right Now.  Over the past week, we have focused on the personalities of MLB Network in an effort to showcase the great talent that the network has to offer.

Each personality has been fit into their specific category based on their specific job description within the organizational workplace of MLB Network.  The two previous categories were Hosts and Reporters and Insiders.  In today's final rankings we focus on the individuals who are seemingly the most free to express their opinions swirling within the inner realms of their minds in the Analysts. The analysts have the biggest presence of the personalities in Secaucus.  Let's end the suspense.  Here are the Top 10 MLB Network Right Now Analysts edition according to the Sports Network Television Shredder:

1. Harold Reynolds-Yes the number one analyst spot on the Shredder's rankings is occupied by none other than the model of analyst consistency in Harold Reynolds.  Say what you will about this old school apologist, there's something to be said about his nearly 20-year career as an analyst post playing career.  Talk about bringing back excellent value as an analyst.  Reynolds has vastly improved from his rookie days at the World Wide leader in ESPN.  Looking into the future, Reynolds shows no signs of slowing down thanks to the added responsibility of covering the World Series on Fox for years to come.

2. John Smoltz-When you can lay claim to a very decorated Hall of Fame career you are virtually guaranteed of a spot in the Shredder's Top 10 MLB Network Right Now Analyst List.  The surprise here is that Smoltz doesn't own the top spot.  In any case, Smoltz has greatly utilized his Hall of Fame knowledge as a resourceful pitcher to his advantage.  It's no accident that he regularly appears as a color commentator on the network's Showcase game coverage throughout the regular season and playoffs.

3. Kevin Millar-The self-proclaimed 04 champion of the Boston Red Sox is unlike any analyst currently covering the sport right now.  Not too many analysts can lay claim to their very own unique and most definitely one-of-a-kind vernacular.  More times than not, Millar really does offer very good insight through that otherwise complicated language of his.

4. Dan Plesac-Plesac cracks the top 4 thanks to his veteran presence with the network.  The 18-year pitching veteran has brought that same longevity and work ethic to his resume as an excellent commentator on the game today.  He's also not fazed by his own antics of wearing kung fu Panda hats complete with karate sound effects in honor of Red Sox (that feels weird to type) third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

5. Eric Byrnes-The former Oakland Athletic has been a bastion of the new school era of progressiveness from the former player's point of view.  There's also a feisty quality in his analysis as evidenced by his weekly appearances on High Heat opposite Christopher 'Mad Dog' Russo.  His effortless nonstop energy is a huge advantage that he utilizes beautifully to the max.

6. Bill Ripken-The lesser known of the Ripken siblings comes in at number 6 on the Shredder's Analyst list.  Like his brother Cal, Bill does an excellent job in teaching the fundamentals of the game from the demo field in Studio 42.  Another thing in his favor is his preference to add a Designated Hitter position to the National League style of game.  Even though his opinions may not always be shared by the public at large, having no fear when expressing your opinions goes a long way when becoming the best analyst one could possibly be.  

7. Mark DeRosa-One of MLB Network's newer analysts, Mark DeRosa has so far made the most out of his knowledge as a recent former player thanks to a 15+ year career with 8 teams.  DeRosa showed early potential as an analyst as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 when he make frequent appearances on MLB Network's Intentional Talk alongside fellow teammate and sparkplug Munenori Kawasaki.  If DeRosa stays dedicated to his craft as an analyst, the Shredder sees nothing but good things for his future.

8. Ron Darling-This man seemingly has exposure down to a science.  The former Mets pitcher of '80s fame appears across all of MLB Network's big name programs in addition to his regular season contributions with Sportsnet New York (SNY) Mets telecasts and TBS' national  game coverage on weekends.

9. Mike Lowell-The 2-time World Series winner always delivers a unique insight into the game.  He does good work on the MLB Now panel alongside Brian Kenny.  Where he provides the most value is his insight of what it's like for foreign born players to make the transition to the big leagues.  This is especially true given the growing influx of players from Cuba making the transition the the big show.

10. Darryl Hamilton-Since joining MLB Network in 2013, Hamilton is a perfect role model when it comes to finding the right mix of ingredients in an analyst.  He always delivers very thoughtful and smart insight when discussing the daily happenings of Major League Baseball.  He's also not afraid to be critical of players when he feels that such analysis is warranted.

Those That Just Missed The Cut-Sean Casey, Ryan Dempster, Cliff Floyd, Al Leiter, Jim Kaat, Joe Magrane.  Sorry gentlemen, there just wasn't enough room in such a crowded field.  Keep at it and you may see your name in the Top 10 next time.

Those That Need More Seasoning Or Exposure-Carlos Pena, Dave Valle, Joey Cora.  With more reps and exposure these guys could work their way up through the ranks.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Top 10 MLB Network Right Now-Insiders

Does Mr. Bow Tie For A Cause occupy the top spot?

Photo Courtesy of

Hello and welcome to the second installment of Top 10 MLB Network Right Now where we rank the various personalities of MLB Network using our own version of objective methodology combined with the personality makeup of the individual.  We call it the Sports Network Television Shredder.

In today's episode we will focus on the Insiders of MLB Network.  The Insiders are responsible for providing the latest up-to-date information on trade rumors, free agent signings and various other pertinent team transactions.  In other words this is no easy task that bears a huge responsibility for those willing to take it on.

One more thing before we release the Shredder's rankings.  Since MLB Network has a grand total of 6 Insiders on their payroll this will be a Top 6 list rather than the usual Top 10.  And remember, your are always free to agree or disagree with the Shredder's rankings.  With that in mind, here is the Top 10 MLB Network Right Now-Insiders Edition.

1. Ken Rosenthal-Rosenthal takes the top spot on the Sports Network Television Shredder's Insiders list.  In addition to his appearances on Hot Stove and MLB Tonight, Rosenthal also has a presence with Fox Sports and their coverage of Major League Baseball happenings.  He even writes his own series of columns for Fox Sports on their website.

When it comes to reporting on the latest information on the league, Rosenthal's skills are second to none.  He consistent track record of breaking the major stories before most of his colleagues while also giving credit to others is a perfect illustration of his excellent reputation and top notch work ethic within the industry.

2. Jon Heyman-At number two on the Shredder's list, Heyman's reporting of various deals and transactions is fearless and yet unnerving for agents everywhere when it comes to throwing out the rumored terms on contract negotiations for various players.

As an agent, you have to build a very strong working relationship with the CBS Sports writer to feel somewhat comfortable with his style of reporting.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Caryn Rose under CC BY 2.0 license

3. Tom Verducci-Verducci lands in the third spot on the Shredder's list.  Verducci's work at Sports Illustrated continues to be some of the finest pieces of journalism you will see anywhere.  His reporting on baseball's steroid scandal was flawless, especially at a time when the sport essentially did all it could to ignore it and sweep it under the rug.

Luckily that didn't happen and the sport now has one the toughest Performance Enhancement Drug policies of any sport.

He also has some pretty innovative ideas on how to improve the game today and for the future which is a plus for the game going forward under Commissioner Rob Manfred's leadership.

4. Peter Gammons-Since joining the MLB Network family in 2010, Gammons still does some masterful work that is reminiscent of his days at the World Wide Leader in ESPN.  His behind-the-scenes access style of reporting is a nice touch in today's game of baseball.

5. Jon Paul Morosi-Occupying the number 5 spot, Jon Paul Morosi profiles as a potential rising star among MLB Network's stable of Insiders.  If he keeps up his current path of trajectory, Morosi could potentially crack into the top 3 on this list.

6. Joel Sherman-Along with Ken Rosenthal, Joel Sherman is the epitome of professional sports journalism.  He gets his fair share of inside scoop and gives credit where credit is due.  What more could you want in the pursuit of journalistic excellence.

So there you have it.  This is the Sports Network Television Shredder's Top 6 MLB Network Right Now Insiders' list.  What's yours?

Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top 10 MLB Network Right Now-Hosts And Reporters

Where will he land on our list?

Photo Courtesy of
Wikimedia and
Jeffrey Beall
CC BY 3.0 License

MLB Network's  Top 10 Right Now shows in the offseason have inspired me to start my own series ranking the Top Ten Personalities Right Now of MLB Network.  My hope is that over the coming week you will see the main reason why I think MLB Network is one of the best sports networks out there.  There will be three separate lists published that will each focus on a separate category.  They are as follows-Hosts and Reporters, Analysts and Insiders. The only list that won't have a full top 10 will be the Insiders list since MLB Network only has 6 insiders.  

This series will take a sabermetrics approach with these lists so it should point out that these rankings take into account the overall exposure of the MLB Network personalities as well as the makeup of each individual.  Consider it a blending of Old School scouting and New School progressiveness.  And remember this series should be fun and engaging and spark some  passionate and insightful debate among myself and you, the readers.  So here we go with the Sports Network Television Shredder's Top 10 MLB Network Right Now-Hosts and Reporters edition.

1. Lauren Shehadi-Taking the the top spot on our list is Lauren Shehadi.  Shehadi has become one of the more recognizable faces at the network since her debut in 2012.  Appearing on The Rundown during the regular season and Hot Stove in the offseason, Shehadi brilliantly navigates through the boys club of the sometimes tough baseball world very well. She is the kind of person who will make you feel like whatever you have to say at any given moment is very important to her.  Even if all you have to offer at the time is utter nonsense, she is not afraid to play along up to a certain point.  That shows that she can be fun, engaging or serious depending on the what the situation calls for.  It also doesn't hurt that she is easy on the eyes.  She gets bonus points as well for having a sweet tooth, even if it is not always the healthiest thing to do in your life but who am I to judge.  In addition, Shehadi is passionate about the sport she covers on a daily basis and it shows.  The effort she puts into her craft is excellent.  What it all boils down to is Shehadi is the quintessential Five Tool player of MLB Network.

2. Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo-What can I say about the Mad Dog.  When he first appeared on High Heat about a year ago I thought what is a radio guy doing on TV?  Well, I started watching the show from day one and I haven't stopped watching since.  The Mad Dog moniker says it all.  You never really know what he's going to say at any given moment.  As a lifelong card carrying member of Old School baseball, Russo's rants are one of a kind.  And let me tell you, when he gets in the zone, such as his spirited debates with New School poster boy Brian Kenny, HE REALLY GETS IN THE ZONE!  All I can say is when these "zone" moments happens you better have your popcorn ready!

3. Bob Costas-First off, does the man ever stop working!  I mean seriously!  It's like he addicted to staying busy.  All kidding aside though, Costas is one of the best broadcasters in the business along with Vin Scully.  If there was a Mount Rushmore of broadcasters, they would definitely be included. Studio 42, MLB Network's 20 Greatest Games and MLB Network presents are fantastic pieces of sports television that detail the history of the game.

4. Greg Amsinger-Having been with MLB Network since its inception in 2009, Amsinger, a noted St. Louis Cardinals apologist, has become a stalwart in Secaucus.  Serving primarily as a rotating lead anchor on MLB Tonight Amsinger's quick wit and sharp humor is a nice ingredient which adds to the chemistry he has with his fellow anchors and analysts.  From time to time, he's been known to get a funny feeling in his knee when he feels something big is about to happen in a game such as a home run.  He's also not afraid to throw out various crazy trade proposals on a whim.

5. Brian Kenny-Let's face it.  A list like this probably wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the masterful work of Kenny and for that he earns the number 5 slot on our list.  Brian is at the forefront of innovation and progress in the broadcasting industry with MLB Now.  Say what you want about WAR and those other crazy formulas and calculations, the bottom line is Kenny is willing to keep an open mind when discussing our national pasttime.

6. Matt Vasgersian-Along with Greg Amsinger, Matt Vasgersian is one of the funnier guys at MLB Network.  From his near flawless impressions like Thom Brennaman and Kevin Millar to his clever use of sound effects, Vasgersian's seemingly comedic mind is always one step ahead of everybody else.  He's also not afraid to speak his mind whenever a thought strikes him.  A good example was his diatribe of the Oakland Athletics and GM Billy Beane following the Athletics second half collapse and loss in the AL Wild Card game in 2014 and Beane's subsequent penchant for tearing everything down and seemingly starting from scratch earlier in the offseason on Hot Stove.  If you don't know what I'm talking about you can easily find it on YouTube.

7. Matt Yallof-Yallof lands at number seven on our list.  Yallof appears primarily on MLB Tonight and The Rundown.  It's on The Rundown where he is at his best.  Here, he teams Lauren Shehadi.  On The Rundown Yallof and Shehadi provide the latest news and analysis once the regular season gets underway.  They talk with fellow players and beat writers about the latest stories that come about as the regular season unfolds.

8. Chris Rose-The more serious half of MLB Network's Odd Couple, Chris Rose could easily have the trickiest job at MLB Network that nobody else probably wants.  That is trying to figure out just what the heck is coming out of Kevin Millar's mouth on Intentional Talk.  Christopher we feel your pain.

9. Sam Ryan-Sam Ryan is another versatile tool in the MLB Network arsenal.  She appears on Hot Stove and Quick Pitch just to name a few.  Of the female presence at the network with the most veteran experience, she provides a nice bargain to those who still excel at what they do as they get older.

10. Fran Charles-Nabbing the final spot on our list is Fran Charles.  Charles appears on MLB Tonight and Hot Stove.  In the past few months his exposure on the network has greatly increased since his debut in 2013.

Those That Just Missed The Cut-Scott Braun, Heidi Watney, Paul Severino, Kristina Fitzpatrick.  Maybe with more exposure once the regular season commences, these individuals may have a good shot at cracking the Top 10 MLB Network Right Now list next time.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved