Beth Mowins added by CBS for NFL play-by-play

Beth Mowins continues to make history.

Beth Mowins ESPN
Beth Mowins will call NFL games for ESPN and CBS this season. (ESPN photo)

Mowins, whose star has risen on ESPN college football and basketball games, was recently tabbed by the network to do play-by-play on one of its season-opening Monday Night Football games. Now she’s also been put on one of CBS’ NFL announcing teams.

She will be joined by analyst Jay Feely, former NFL place-kicker. Their first game will be the Sept. 24 Browns-Colts game.

Mowins’ NFL debut will be the ESPN Chargers-Broncos game on Sept. 11. That will be the second of two Monday night games. The opener will be the Saints and Vikings. She will work with former NFL coach Rex Ryan.

The only other woman to call an NFL game was Gayle Sierens for NBC in 1987.

At the time of the MNF announcement, Mowins told The Associated Press: “I understand the significance of it and the importance of this moment and I hope there are a lot of young girls and young boys out there who not necessarily see me as a play-by-play announcer but as a kid who had a dream and had wonderful support from family and friends to pursue that dream and put in a lot of sweat equity to get the opportunity.”

CBS’ other announcing teams, from top to bottom are:

  • Jim Nantz/Tony Romo/Tracy Wolfson
  • Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts/Evan Washburn
  • Greg Gumbel/Trent Green/Jamie Erdahl
  • Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon
  • Andrew Catalon/James Lofton
  • Spero Dedes/ Adam Archuleta
  • Tom McCarthy /Steve Tasker/Steve Beuerlein

The big thing for CBS this season will be the addition of Romo with Nantz on the No. 1 team. He replaces Phil Simms, who moves to The NFL Today pregame show.

FOX FILLS OUT ITS LINEUP

Fox also released how its NFL talent will be set up this season. The most interesting thing in its lineup is Mark Schlereth, formerly with ESPN, being an analyst with Chris Myers. Fox’s teams, from top to bottom:

  • Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Erin Andrews
  • Kevin Burkhardt/Charles Davis/Pam Oliver
  • Kenny Albert/Ronde Barber/Kristina Pink
  • Chris Myers/Daryl Johnston/Laura Okmin
  • Dick Stockton/Mark Schlereth/Shannon Spake
  • Thom Brennaman/Chris Spielman/Peter Schrager
  • Sam Rosen/David Diehl/Jennifer Hale

EXHIBITIONS ON DISPLAY

One of this weekend’s NFL preseason games will be shown on three Los Angeles TV stations. The Rams play the Raiders at Oakland at 7 p.m. PDT Saturday and the game will be shown on KCBS (Channel 2), which shows Rams preseason games in the L.A. market, and also on KTLA (Channel 5), which, for some reason, shows Raiders games. The third station is KFTR (Channel 46), which shows Rams preseason games in Spanish.

Sunday’s Chargers game against New Orleans at StubHub Center will be shown by KABC (Channel 7) at 5 p.m. Sunday.

On national TV this weekend, ESPN shows Buccaneers-Jaguars at 5 p.m. Thursday and Giants-Browns at 5 p.m. Monday. NFL Network’s live games will be Vikings-Seahawks at 7 p.m. Friday, Panthers-Titans at noon Saturday, Colts-Cowboys at 4 p.m. Saturday, Broncos-49ers at 7 p.m. Saturday and Falcons-Steelers at 1 p.m. Sunday.

RENAISSANCE MAN

Tommy Hawkins, who played for the Lakers and was an L.A. sportscaster before becoming an executive for the Dodgers, died Wednesday in Malibu. He was 80.

Hawkins, the first black All-American at Notre Dame, was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1959 and came with the team to Los Angeles in 1960. He sandwiched six seasons with the Lakers with four seasons with the Cincinnati Royals in between.

After he retired from the NBA in 1969, he joined KNBC (Channel 4) as a sportscaster. Ventura County sports fans may remember Hawkins and Ross Porter broadcasting Cal Lutheran’s NAIA Division II national football championship game in 1971. Porter would later go on to become a Dodgers broadcaster.

“A true renaissance man,” Porter said of Hawkins in the Los Angeles Times. “He was interested in so many things and he would learn them, study them.”

Hawkins’ interests included poetry and jazz. His son Kevin told AP that Hawkins self-published a book of poetry and was in the midst of writing a memoir on his basketball career when he died.

He also had a radio stint with KABC (790 AM) and later co-hosted a morning show with Stephanie Edwards on KHJ-TV, now KCAL (Channel 9).

Hawkins was hired in 1987 by the Dodgers to be vice president of communications, working for the team until 2004.

The Dodgers held a moment of silence for Hawkins before their game against the White Sox on Wednesday night.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

The NBA schedule was released this week. The Lakers will have 23 national TV games on TNT (11), ESPN (11) and ABC (1), including their Oct. 19 season opener against the host Clippers on TNT. The Clippers have 19 games on national TV, nine on TNT, 10 on ESPN, none on ABC. The Lakers play on Christmas night against Minnesota, but the Clippers will be off on Christmas for the first time in seven years. … The PGA Championship attracted a 3.6 big-market overnight rating on CBS, the lowest for the event since 2008 when it competed with the Beijing Olympics. U.S. Amateur golf from Riviera Country Club continues on Fox Sports 1 at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday before moving to Fox at 9 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. …

Mike Tirico continues to be more and more visible on NBC. The network announced this week he will replace Dan Hicks on play-by-play of Notre Dame football. Tirico filled in on three Irish games last season while Hicks was doing PGA Tour golf. … ESPN will cover Major League Baseball’s first Little League Classic at 4 p.m. Sunday. The St. Louis Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Williamsport, Pa., where the Little League World Series is going on. … HBO’s Real Sports (11 p.m. Tuesday) will be highlighted by an examination of the NFL Players Association.

The P&G Gymnastics Championships from Anaheim’s Honda Center will be shown live at 8 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and 10 a.m. Sunday (live) and at 7 p.m. (tape-delayed)Sunday on NBC. ESPN will pull out all the stops on its season-opening college football telecast Aug. 31, showing the Ohio State-Indiana in its “MegaCast” mode. It adds “film room” and “homer” channels to its coverage as well as several other options online. … ESPN also has plans for a yearlong project on the history of college football during the sport’s 150th anniversary. … Turner Sports plans to launch a streaming sports service next fall to show UEFA Champions League and Europa League soccer games.

ESPN makes a big investment in streaming its future

Cable TV is not dead, nor should we expect it to be anytime soon, but there are indications that it may soon get smaller.

With more and more people “cutting the cord” and opting to go only with streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Roku, TV networks are finding themselves with fewer cable subscribers. Especially hit hard is Disney, which has seen its cable operations fall 3% and its operating income drop 23% in the most recent quarter, according to SportsBusiness Daily. That’s rough as ESPN is faced with large rights fees to show pro and college sports.

MLBAM_logoThis week, Disney announced it was buying a majority stake in BAMTech, increasing its stake from 33% to 75%. BAMTech, which was spun off from MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) in 2015, is the streaming platform originally created by Major League Baseball to show its games online. It has been so successful, it has become the industry’s state of the art. Disney has used it to stream WatchESPN and ESPN3 programming. MLBAM also runs the NHL’s websites and streams its games.

MLBAM will still own 15% of BAMTech while the NHL will own 10%.

With its investment in BAMTech, Disney plans to start an ESPN streaming service in 2018 and a Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019. The ESPN stream will be available through an updated version of the ESPN app.

“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company.”

The ESPN service, which will not merely duplicate what is on TV, is set to have more than 10,000 live events per year, featuring major league baseball, the NHL, MLS, Grand Slam tennis and college events. It would be the first time ESPN has shown NHL games since 2004.

The plan will also result in Disney ending its new-release movie deal with Netflix, beginning in 2019.

EYE ON SPORTS

Meanwhile, CBS is planning a streaming sports channel of its own.

CBS CEO Les Moonves said this week the company will base its service on CBSN, its streaming news service.

Moonves said CBS will attempt to differentiate itself from ESPN and Fox. CBS already has an online sports unit based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

WELL-WISHES

Three notable broadcasters with health issues this week:

  • NBC’s Ed Olczyk will miss the start of the NHL season as he undergoes treatment for colon cancer. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Olczyk had a tumor removed last week. Olczyk, who also is an analyst on Chicago Blackhawks games, played for six teams, including the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. He has been with NBC since 2007, working with Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire. In addition to hockey, Olczyk has recently added Triple Crown horse racing to his NBC repertoire.
  • Jerry Remy, analyst for the Boston Red Sox, is not expected to return to the broadcast booth this season. Remy had surgery for lung cancer on June 26 and is expected to start chemotherapy soon, according to the Boston Globe.
  • Len Dawson, former quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, will be stepping down as radio analyst after this season. Dawson, 82, has had several health problems recently. He started broadcasting while he was still quarterbacking, becoming the sports anchor for Kansas City’s KMBC-TV in 1966, then after his retirement, became host of HBO’s Inside the NFL from 1978 to 2001. He joined the Chiefs Radio Network in 1984. Dawson is one of only three men — joining Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf — to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as both a player and as a broadcaster.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

Charissa Thompson, who had rumored to be joining Mike Greenberg’s new ESPN morning show, is instead staying at Fox, according to reports. … Other reports are questioning whether Pete Rose is likely to stay at Fox after a recent alleged statutory rape accusation from the 1970s. Fox has reeled in recent months over various sexual harassment accusations on its various networks. … Still more on Fox: The network is not reeling over Jay Cutler backing out of an NFL game analyst job to sign a one-year QB deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The three-man booth he was scheduled to share with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis will reportedly now become a two-man booth. …

A reminder: The PGA Championship continues Friday on TNT at 10 a.m. PDT. CBS will have the third and fourth rounds at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. … Nationally televised baseball this weekend includes the Red Sox-Yankees at 1 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1 and at 5 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. TBS will show Indians-Rays at 10 a.m. Sunday. … Prime Ticket’s schedule of high school football games starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, with Oaks Christian visiting Chaminade. NBCSN’s Premier League soccer season starts at 11:45 a.m. Friday with Leicester City at Arsenal. There will be three games on Saturday: Liverpool-Watford at 4:30 a.m. on NBCSN, Burnley-Chelsea at 7 a.m. on NBCSN; and Stoke City-Everton at 7 a.m. on CNBC. … The Women’s Rugby World Cup from Ireland starts on NBCSN at 6:35 a.m. Sunday with U.S.-Italy. … Wednesday marked six months from the start of the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea.

CBS will have a bag of tech tricks at PGA Championship

Fox has changed the way a lot of sports are televised since the network first got into the sports biz back in the mid ’90s. Most of those innovations have to do with technology, the gadgets and gizmos that have for the most part enhanced the telecasts.

Added to the list of those sports is golf. Fox really came into its own at its most recent U.S. Open, finding ways to bring more information to viewers, such as flight trackers and wind readings.

Now that the final major of the year — the PGA Championship — is looming next weekend, Aug. 10-13, at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., CBS is putting its own spin on golf technology and, if possible, do Fox one better.

CBS will use “Trackman” for the first time on all 18 holes, using 3D radar tracking to provide with distance, height, curvature and more.

“Virtual Eye” will be used on more holes, showing exactly where the ball is on the course, and also providing flyover animation to give a second-shot perspective once the ball comes to rest.

“Toptracer” is basically a portable version of Trackman that can be used for second and third shots. “Smartcart,” used last year, is a custom-fitted golf cart with a 72-inch mobile screen to illustrate golf swings, difficulty of holes and so forth. CBS will also have the super slo-mo “SwingVision,” bunker cams and aerial drone coverage.

“I’m most excited that we can used the technology on all 18 holes,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said. “The ARL Virtual Eye, where you see at the side of the screen exactly the flight of the ball on a 3D model, really, really does show you where the ball goes and the trajectory of the ball. It really sets up what the golfer did with that tee shot and then what he has to deal with for a second shot.

“I like all the technology a lot. I think that for the viewer at home it gives him and her really the best view of the golf course and how that particular player is playing the hole.”

SPIETH IS SPECIAL

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Jordan Spieth will be gunning for a career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship on Aug. 10-13. (Erik Charlton photo)

After winning the British Open, Jordan Spieth will be looking to complete a career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship.

“Golf could be on the precipice of one of the greatest achievements in the history of sport,” CBS anchor Jim Nantz said. “It’s a responsibility that we’re really happy to have in our hands.”

CBS analyst Dottie Pepper believes Spieth’s comeback win at the British Open opened the public’s eyes to Spieth’s ability and potential.

“The context I learned for the impact of his win at the Open was that he was above the fold on the sports page of the New York Times,” Pepper said. “That, to me, tells you all you need to know about impact. And it was the tease on the front page. So when golf moves into that space, that means you’re doing something right.”

TNT will show the first and second rounds of the PGA Championship next Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. PDT. CBS will have the third and fourth rounds at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Nantz and Pepper will be joined by Verne Lundquist, Bill Macatee, Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch, Gary McCord, Frank Nobilo, Peter Kostis and Amanda Balionis.

WHAT IT WAS WAS FOOTBALL

The NFL was set to rumble back into action at 5 Thursday night with the Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio, and the Dallas Cowboys facing the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a chance for viewers to reunite with NBC’s Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.

The game, of course, is secondary at best to the atmosphere the surrounds the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the upcoming inductions which are to take place Saturday (ESPN, 4 p.m.).

Thursday’s NBC telecast will include live interviews with all seven inductees: Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones; Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner; kicker Morten Andersen; running back Terrell Davis; safety Kenny Easley; defensive end Jason Taylor and running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

Jac Collinsworth, son of Cris, will join ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown as a features reporter. Jac has worked as an assistant sideline producer for NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecasts and has done digital and syndicated football work at Notre Dame. … NBC and NBCSN will show 99 NHL games next season, down from last season’s record-high 106. They start with the champion Pittsburgh Penguins hosting St. Louis on Oct. 4 on NBCSN. NBCSN will also show the first home at the Detroit Red Wings’ new Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 5 and the Vegas Golden Knights’ first home game against Arizona on Oct. 10. The Los Angeles Kings appear 10 times, all on NBCSN; the Anaheim Ducks appear four times, also all on NBCSN. …

ESPN says its coverage of the El Clásico Miami soccer game Saturday between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid was seen by 836,000 viewers, the network’s most watched non-U.S. international friendly match. … The Dodgers and New York Mets will be on national TV twice this weekend, at 1 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1 and on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball for the second week in a row (5 p.m.). … TBS will show Nationals-Cubs at 11 a.m. Sunday. …

The final races of Usain Bolt’s career will come this weekend at the World Track and Field Championships from London. Bolt first runs in the men’s 100-meter heats at 10:30 a.m. Friday, live on the new Olympic Channel with coverage of the final at noon Saturday on NBC. Bolt is also expected to compete in the 4×100 relay, which NBC will show at noon Saturday, Aug. 12. … NBC and Motor Racing Network will feature Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race from Watkins Glen from four different vantage points. NBC’s Leigh Diffey and Steve Letarte will call it from the traditional position above the finish line, MRN’s Mike Bagley and NBC’s Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman will report from separate locations around the track.

Baseball is doing more and more clock-watching

MLB Primary Marks - Digital ArtThe one thing that gnaws at Major League Baseball and its commissioner, Rob Manfred, more than anything else it seems, is pace of play. Baseball can’t do anything, apparently, in less than three hours.

It’s the bane of Manfred’s existence. Baseball, which throughout its history has been known as a sport without a clock, now has a clock in every stadium to mark the time between innings, to measure coaching visits to the pitcher’s mound and how much time a manager has to ask for a replay review.

But the thing that swallows up the most time during baseball games — and, obviously, every other televised sporting event — is advertising.

Commercial breaks between innings and during pitching changes can be brutal, especially on nationally televised games. Contracts allow for even longer breaks during nationally televised games than for those just shown regionally.

It’s not easy for baseball to do much to significantly cut down the pace of play when the thing that makes it the worst has nothing to do with play. It takes place when there is no play going on at all. It’s difficult to cut back on the thing that pays the bills.

But Manfred is giving it a shot. MLB experimented during Tuesday night’s game between the Colorado Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals with shorter commercial breaks.

The game, shown nationally on MLB Network, as well as regionally on AT&T SportNet Rocky Mountain and Fox Sports Midwest, reduced its ad breaks from 2 minutes, 25 seconds to 1:45, according to SportsBusiness Daily.

Apparently to make up for the lost revenue in advertising time, the game also experimented in virtual advertising, i.e., digitally displaying corporate logos not only behind home plate, but also in the batter’s eye area, in foul territory near the first- and third-base line and along the top of the stadium.

The whole thing had to get cooperation not only from the teams and networks, but also from the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association unions.

It all went great, except for one thing: The game still took, 3 hours, 11 minutes to play, five minutes longer than this year’s MLB average, which is at an all-time high.

According to baseball-reference.com, time of game first averaged more than three hours in 2014. It managed to dip to 2:56 the next season, but went to 3:00 in 2016 and is at 3:05 this year.

The average time of game was 2:55 10 years ago and 2:56 20 years ago. In 1990, it was 2:51, in 1980 it was 2:38 and in 1970 it was 2:34.

THE LATE PAC-12

The Pacific-12 Conference is also looking for ways to make its football games shorter. At its media days this week, the conference said it plans a pilot program during some nonconference games this season to make games shorter.

The Los Angeles Times said the measures include cutting halftime from 20 to 15 minutes and cutting several minutes of TV commercials.

The Pac-12 hasn’t announced which games will be in the program yet because they need approval from visiting teams.

The conference suffers from having a lot of its games shown at night. The average time of a college football game was 3 hours, 24 minutes last season.

GREEN LIGHT FOR EARNHARDT

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s contract to join NBC next year was finally made official this week. Exactly how he’ll be used in the network’s NASCAR coverage remains to be seen. It also seems pretty likely that the iconic driver will occasionally be doing more than just auto racing.

Sam Flood, NBC Sports executive producer and president of production, told reporters this week there have been discussions about Earnhardt branching out.

“We’ve had conversations, and this is a deal with all of NBCUniversal, so it’s not just NASCAR,” Flood said. “So we’ve talked about football, we’ve talked about the Olympics, we’ve talked about other parts of the company.

“I could see him being involved, if it’s the right fit for him and for us. We’re not going to say. ‘You’re going to go off and do a feature on football,’ we’re going to say, ‘Hey, does this make sense for both sides to get you involved in something here, be it the Super Bowl, be it the Olympics. There’s a lot of speed events in the Olympics. Could be an interesting match for Dale.”

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

The British Open earned a 3.6 big-market overnight rating on NBC for the final round Sunday. Jordan Spieth’s victory was down 8% from last year’s final round, in which Henrik Stenson won over Phil Mickelson. … The BIG3 three-on-three basketball league has seen declining viewership on Fox Sports 1 since it debuted the first of its one-day delayed telecasts on June 26, but the shows are still substantially better than what the network was showing last year at this time, according to SBD. The first telecast in Brooklyn was seen by 400,000 viewers. The ones since then have been seen by 235,000, 129,000 and 148,000. …

Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN and Fantasy Football Now on ESPN2 will both be expanded to three hours when they debut for this season on Sept. 10. … The Big Ten Conference has extended its contracts with CBS, Fox and ESPN for six years each. … Lisa Byington will become the first woman to do play-by-play of a college football game on Big Ten Network when she calls Northwestern-Bowling Green on Sept. 16. … Ray Lewis, previously on ESPN, will join Showtime’s Inside the NFL this season starting Sept. 5. … Sporting News reports ESPN is trying to get Fox’s Charissa Thompson to join Mike Greenberg as a co-host for his new morning show debuting Jan. 1.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, truly a mismatch this season, will be on national TV this weekend from Dodger Stadium. Saturday’s game will be on FS1 as well as SportsNet LA at 1 p.m. PDT and Sunday’s game will be a Sunday Night Baseball game exclusively on ESPN at 5 p.m. … FS1 will also show Reds-Marlins on Saturday at 4 p.m. TBS will have Cubs-Brewers at 11 a.m. Sunday. … And this is for helicopter parents everywhere: ESPN says it will show a record 140 Little League baseball and softball games across six networks (including ESPNews, ESPNU and even the Longhorn Network) between this Sunday and Aug. 27.

Bob Wolff, a venerable and prolific broadcaster, dies at 96

Bob Wolff-Babe Ruth
Bob Wolff, interviews Babe Ruth.

West Coast sports fans know little or nothing, most likely, of Bob Wolff, who died Saturday in South Nyack, N.Y., at the age of 96, but Wolff was one of the most prolific and, in many ways, one of the most loved sports broadcasters who ever lived.

Wolff was recognized in 2012 by Guinness World Records for having the longest sports broadcasting career of all time, spanning 77 years. Wolff and Curt Gowdy are the only broadcasters to be inducted into both the baseball and basketball halls of fame.

He once said, “If you added all the time up, I’ve spent about seven days of my life standing for the national anthem.”

Wolff called some big-time games, too, including Don Larsen’s perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series, and the Baltimore Colts’ overtime NFL championship win over the New York Giants in 1958, called “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” along with New York Knicks championships in 1970 and ’73.

He is also the only broadcaster to call the championships for all four U.S. pro sports — the World Series, the NFL Championship, the NBA Championship and the Stanley Cup finals.

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Bob Wolff died Saturday at 96. He had a 77-year sportscasting career.

Wolff started in 1939, helping a radio station broadcast games for the Duke University baseball team he was a member of until he broke his ankle. He served in the Navy as a supply officer during World War II. Afterward, he joined WINX Radio in Washington as its sports director and from there he became the first sportscaster for WTTG-TV in Washington in 1946 and became play-by-play announcer for the Washington Senators. He even moved with the team when it became the Minnesota Twins in 1961.

While the Senators were usually pathetic, Wolff was appreciated and the Washington Nationals named their broadcast booth for him in 2009. With the Senators, he tried not to remind his listeners how bad the team was.

“I’d look for human-interest stories all the time to keep people listening to the game,” Wolff told The New York Times in 2013. “I’d just say, ‘Well, folks, it’s 17-3,’ and they knew which team was losing.”

The Washington Post said that during his time in that city, Wolff did play-by-play for the Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland, along with national baseball and football broadcasts for the Mutual radio network, and even several inauguration parades.

In the early 1960s, Wolff passed on becoming an original member of the New York Mets’ broadcast team (the top spot went to Lindsay Nelson) and instead joined NBC to do its baseball Game of the Week with Joe Garagiola.

Wolff later started a long career with Madison Square Garden, even before it started its MSG Network. He broadcast Knicks games for 27 years and New York Rangers hockey for 20. He even had a 33-year run doing the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

At various times, Wolff voiced the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the ECAC Holiday Festival, the Millrose Games and Gold Gloves boxing.

Toward the end of his career, Wolff did commentary the News 12 Long Island cable station, which he joined when it was founded in 1986. His final essay for the channel was in February.

WATCH CLOSELY

Roger Federer’s men’s championship at Wimbledon earned a 1.9 rating on ESPN, a 6% increase from last year’s 1.8 when Andy Murray won.

The NBA Summer League telecasts on ESPN had a 112% increase in viewership this year over last, with an average 783,000 viewers, compared to 369,000 in 2016. Six of the seven telecasts feature the Los Angeles Lakers, who were showcasing rookie Lonzo Ball. The top game, Lakers vs. Celtics, was seen by 1.1 million viewers, followed by Lakers-Clippers, 879,000; Lakers-Trail Blazers, 836,000; Lakers-Cavaliers, 780,000; and Lakers-Mavericks, 763,000.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

Nationally televised baseball this weekend features Cardinals-Cubs at 1 p.m. PDT Saturday and Rangers-Rays at 4 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1, Astros-Orioles at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on TBS, and Cardinals-Cubs at 5 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. … ESPN, by the way, has added Dodgers-Mets on Aug. 6 and Red Sox-Yankees on Aug. 13 to its Sunday Night Baseball schedule. …

The final Mike & Mike show on ESPN2 and ESPN Radio will be Nov. 17 and the new Golic & (Trey) Wingo show will debut Nov. 27, the network said. … The WNBA All-Star Game will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC. Both coaches and four players will wear microphones during the game. … The CrossFit Games and CBS have signed a contract making CBS and CBS Sports Network the official home of the games. The first event is Aug. 5.

If you can’t see the Dodgers on TV, you’re not going to

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Commissioner Rob Manfred reiterated his refusal to get involved in the Dodgers’ TV dispute. (Arturo Pardavila III photo)

It’s time we faced facts. Far beyond time, actually. There is no sense in anyone deluding themselves any longer:

If you can’t see the Dodgers now on SportsNet LA, you never will.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve sent letter after letter to the Dodgers, to Spectrum cable, to your congressman or even to the president.

It’s just not going to happen and the sooner you come to grips with that, the better.

SportsNet LA is in its fourth year of being the only local channel that carries Dodgers games. It is owned by the Dodgers and is available only through Charter Communications’ Spectrum, which last year purchased Time Warner Cable. After this long of waiting to see if some kind of breakthrough would come that would entice other providers, such as DirecTV, to put the channel in their lineup, we may as well realize it’s just not going to happen.

And fans certainly aren’t going to get any help from the commissioner of baseball.

During the All-Star Game break in Miami, commissioner Rob Manfred said he can’t and won’t make any kind of ruling in the dispute.

“It’s not my job to tell a club to renegotiate its television agreements,” Manfred told the Los Angeles Times, repeating a line he used in January 2016. “I think the much more productive course, and we have pursued this course, is to try to work with the parties who actually have an economic interest here.”

Manfred added, “I remain very concerned about the issue. As I have said repeatedly, I don’t have a seat at that table.”

By now it should be clear. The only way to see most Dodgers games on TV is to subscribe to Spectrum. Otherwise you’re out of luck. By now if you want to see the team, have access to Spectrum and haven’t switched, it is because you just don’t care all that much.

All the umbrage about the issue — about the greediness of the Dodgers and Spectrum, about Manfred’s refusal to do anything about it, about the unwillingness of any other person in charge to take it on — is simply wasted energy now.

The Dodgers’ SportsNet LA contract with Spectrum isn’t over until 2038 — good grief, I’ll be 82 then! — and they have shown no interest whatsoever in lowering the asking price per subscriber to providers. The providers have suffered no huge loss in subscribers over not being able to see the Dodgers. And baseball has no wish to sully its hands with the whole thing.

Even the U.S. Department of Justice, when it ruled that DirecTV colluded with providers to keep SportsNet LA off their lineups, it did not require DirecTV or anyone else to pick the channel up.

Pundits arguing that the Dodgers’ alleged “brand erosion” is directly linked to the inability of people to be able to see them on TV, is dubious. The Dodgers lead baseball in attendance, both at home and on the road. Dodgers-branded merchandise is being worn everywhere.

The TV thing? It’s over. We may as well move on.

NO FALLING STARS

With the All-Star Game no longer being used to decide home-field advantage for the World Series, Fox decided to make Tuesday’s game into a carnival sideshow.

It started with Alex Rodriguez interviewing three members of the National League infield after the first inning — on the infield.

The whole stunt — and the operative word here is definitely “stunt” — was a sponsored segment bought by Warner Bros. to promote its movie Dunkirk.

Before that, Fox had Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci do one-question interviews with the leadoff batter for each league — the American League’s Jose Altuve and the NL’s Charlie Blackmon.

Even stranger and more invasive were fourth-inning interviews with AL left fielder George Springer and NL right fielder Bryce Harper during the game. Obviously, Fox had gotten permission from MLB and each player to mic the players, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a shameful travesty of the game.

Harper seemed the most comfortable with the setup; he even asked play-by-play man Joe Buck an NFL question. It seemed like neither one of them even liked baseball.

Frankly, I would’ve loved it if Harper’s mic had gotten in the way, or had picked up some unsavory language when he made his second-inning diving catch of Salvador Perez’s fly ball or when he came up short on the fifth-inning RBI hit by Miguel Sano while wearing the mic.

Now, I’m as fun-loving as the next person, but I also lean toward being a baseball purist. Baseball is good enough. It doesn’t need to be “fixed.” As much as I disliked having the All-Star Game determine World Series home advantage, I also disliked Fox’s mockery when it decided the game was now open for ridicule.

I didn’t mind Nelson Cruz stopping the game before his sixth-inning at-bat to have catcher Yadier Molina to take a picture of him and umpire Joe West. There was no advertising stunt there and the way the game was played was not altered.

Aaron Judge HR Derby
Home Run Derby winner Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees talks with ESPN’s Buster Olney. (ESPN photo)

Tuesday’s game was seen by an average of 9.3 million viewers, up 7% from last year’s record-low 8.7 million. Monday night’s Home Run Derby on ESPN, won by Aaron Judge, was seen by 8.2 million, which was the event’s best draw since 2009’s 8.3 million saw Prince Fielder win.

WHERE’S JOE DAVIS THIS WEEK?

The Dodgers’ Joe Davis will stay with the Dodgers this weekend. Fox Sports 1 has the 4 p.m. PDT baseball game this week, which will have the Red Sox and Yankees shown nationally. TBS will also show the two teams at 10 a.m.

Incidentally, Fox announced Thursday that Davis will again head up the network’s No. 2 college football announcing crew, teaming with Brady Quinn.

ESPN announced this week it was turn the July 30 Giants-Dodgers game into a Sunday Night Baseball game and change the time from 1 to 5 p.m.

OLYMPIC CHANNEL LAUNCHES

The Olympic Channel will launch Saturday in 35 million U.S. homes, according to NBC, a partner of the venture with the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The network will be available, NBC says, to Spectrum, DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast and Altice at the start, along with many streaming services, including DirecTV Now, Fubo, Hulu, Sony PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV.

Sports Illustrated reports among the early highlights of the network will be the reairing of all eight original broadcasts of the 1992 U.S. men’s basketball Dream Team. The games start Aug. 28 and conclude with a Labor Day marathon.

Especially notable will be that the games will be shown in their entirety; originally on NBC, some were edited down. The games were announced by the team of Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Jim Gray, and by late Lakers announcer Chick Hearn with Steve Jones.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

The Wimbledon men’s semifinals are at 5-11 a.m. Friday on ESPN, with the women’s championship at 6 a.m. Saturday (repeated by 3 p.m. on ABC). The men’s final is at 6 a.m. Sunday on ESPN (repeated at 3 p.m. on ABC). … An interview with Rod Carew will be a highlight of Tuesday’s Real Sports at 10 p.m. on HBO. … Johnny Miller has signed a contract to continue for at least one more year as an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, according to Golfweek.Tom Hart will take over from Brent Musburger as the SEC Network’s top college football announcer. Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will be the analysts, replacing Jesse Palmer and Kaylee Hartung. … NFL analyst Mark Schlereth is leaving ESPN and moving to FS1, he tweeted Tuesday.AdAge called it “Deflategate 2.0”: Viagra and Cialis will be noticeably absent from NFL TV advertising this season. Both erectile dysfunction medicines will lose their patent exclusivity this year.

Horowitz’s firing continues a rough year for Fox

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Jamie Horowitz (Fox Sports photo)

It’s been a tumultuous week for Fox Sports. First Fox Sports Digital laid off the bulk of its editorial staff in a push toward video and away from text. Then on Monday, Fox abruptly fired Jamie Horowitz, its president of national networks. The dismissal is said to center around an internal investigation of sexual harassment claims.

Fox Sports president Eric Shanks informed the staff in a memo, which was widely reported:

Dear Colleagues:

I regret to inform you that Jamie Horowitz, President of National Networks for FOX Sports, will be leaving FOX Sports effective immediately. We realize this news may come as a surprise for many of you, but we are confident in this decision.

Everyone at FOX Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times. These values are non-negotiable.

Until Jamie’s replacement is named, I am stepping in to handle his former responsibilities including programming, marketing and scheduling for FS1 and FS2, as well as digital. All of these functions will now report directly to me.

We understand how difficult this will be for many of you, but in these times it is important that we remain unwavering and focused in continuing the great work of FOX Sports.

Best,

Eric

Horowitz had joined Fox Sports in May 2015 and made quick changes to Fox Sports 1, bringing his debate programming philosophy from ESPN. He brought ESPN personalities such as Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock to Fox along with a number of executives.

Horowitz was fired by NBC in 2014 after only two months as general manager of the Today show when he attempted to bring about a wholesale makeover of the program. He had also previously been an executive at ABC’s Good Morning America.

The Los Angeles Times reported L.A.-based Fox Sports “interviewed several women … about Horowitz’s behavior,” including “prominent on-air personalities and show producers.” The Times story came from sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it or because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

It appears the case is headed toward litigation. Both sides are said to have hired prominent attorneys.

Horowitz had been behind last month’s layoffs of a reported 20 Fox Sports Digital writers and editors.

Sports Illustrated originally reported Horowitz’s departure. SI’s Richard Deitsch tweeted that Fox’s PR department had sent a memo on the Fourth of July “reminding staff about ‘unauthorized conversations with the press.’ ”

Fox has been beleaguered for the past year by sexual harassment claims in its news division, prompting Fox News in July 2016 to fire its chairman, Roger Ailes, who died in May, and popular host Bill O’Reilly in April.

WHERE’S JOE DAVIS THIS WEEK?

For the first time this season, Joe Davis will be able to broadcast Saturday’s Royals-Dodgers game in Los Angeles and also broadcast for Fox.

The game will be Fox’s No. 2 game, shown to 35% of the nation at 4 p.m. PDT. Davis will do play-by-play alongside Eric Karros and A.J. Pierzynski. It also means that fans without SportsNet LA will be able to see the game on KTTV (Channel 11).

Meanwhile, the Dodgers did all they could to make sure fans stuffed the ballot box for Justin Turner to be voted into Tuesday’s All-Star Game. SportsNet LA was full of reminders, beggings and pleadings by Davis, Orel Hershiser and Alanna Rizzo during Wednesday night’s game against Arizona.

On a side note, Hershiser continued his nightly gushings about the boys in blue, saying that every one of them was someone you’d like your daughter to date. Presumably he meant only the single ones. He did everything but give out the players’ phone numbers. Perhaps not only would you be able to vote for Turner, you would also be able to vote for which Dodger you’d like to date.

Second side note: With the Dodgers hosting the Royals this weekend, it reminds me how close the two teams came to squaring off in the 1985 World Series. It might have happened if it hadn’t been for Jack Clark and Tom Niedenfuer.

SUNDAY NIGHT DEPARTURE

It’s sad for us, but good for him. Dan Shulman will step down from his play-by-play duties on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball after this season with a move toward getting a more balanced life.

SNB-Team
Dan Shulman, left, poses with Sunday Night Baseball analysts Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone. (ESPN photo)

Shulman told SI.com he’s getting remarried next year and wants a schedule that is more conducive toward maintaining a family life at his home in Toronto. Shulman stressed the move was his idea and not ESPN’s, and he was grateful to the network for accommodating him.

Shulman will continue to have a full college basketball schedule and do a limited number of weeknight games for ESPN, as well as postseason games on ESPN Radio.

He has done baseball broadcasts for 20 years on ESPN and has been on SNB since 2011. Shulman also broadcasts a small number of Toronto Blue Jays games in Canada.

HEY THERE, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR

The 88th MLB All-Star Game will air at 5 p.m. on Fox with Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. ESPN Radio will also have the game, locally on KSPN (710 AM), with Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton.

The Home Run Derby will be at 5 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Strangely enough, the Spanish-language production of the Derby will be shown on ESPN2 and not ESPN Deportes.

It’s the first time since 2002 that the winner of the All-Star Game will not determine which league representative will get home-field advantage in the World Series.

I’ll write more about this Monday, but here’s a spoiler alert: I’M THRILLED!

UP & DOWN THE AISLE

TBS will have its first baseball game of the season at 10 a.m. Sunday with the Pirates visiting the Cubs. Ernie Johnson will do play-by-play with analyst Ron Darling. … The Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn “Battle of Brisbane” boxing event Saturday night earned a 1.6 rating for ESPN and was the highest rated fight on cable TV since Carlos Baldomir-Arturo Gatti on HBO in 2006, also a 1.6 rating. It was ESPN’s highest rated fight since Danell Nicholson-Darren Hayden in 1995 (1.7). Saturday’s 1.6 rating translates to 2.8 million viewers. … The Coke Zero 400, NBC’s first NASCAR race of the year, had a 3.0 rating, according to SportsBusiness Daily. That’s down 6% from last year’s 3.2. … Jim (Bones) McKay, formerly Phil Mickelson’s caddie, will become an on-course reporter for NBC and Golf Channel, according to Golf Digest.NBCSN will have AVP pro volleyball action from San Francisco at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. …

Tony Kornheiser, host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, as well as a former Washington Post sports columnist and longtime Washington, D.C., radio host, will be inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Other inductees include Olympic swimming gold medalist Katie Ledecky and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. … It’s not sports, but the World Series of Poker will be shown almost live from Las Vegas starting Saturday through July 22 on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN calls it “live” in its publicity, but it’s really on a 30-minute delay because of gaming regulations.