Tag Archives: ESPN

ESPN names Bryce Harper as the most famous ballplayer on the planet

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Harper likely to fall further behind after already late spring start

Sports Illustrated has released its annual “World Fame 100” ranking of the most famous athletes on the planet. Only one baseball player made the 2019 list – new Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper.

There had been no baseball players to make the list in either of the last two years. Harper undoubtedly received a big push from his hotly contested pursuit in free agency this past off-season.
The folks at ESPN explain their process in this manner: “To identify the 100 most famous athletes in the world, we started with 800 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 78 countries. We then ranked them based on a formula that took into account three fame factors.
Those three fame factors are made up of the individual’s internet “search score“, the annual value of their current endorsement deals, and the size of their social media following.
The search score measures just how often the name was searched on Google by taking “the weighted average of an athlete’s Google Trends peak score (how much he spiked on his most searched day) and his average score (how much he was searched throughout 2018, on average.)
ESPN uses a variety of resources including contributors to such sites as Forbes in order to approximate the endorsement values. The social media figure is taken from the individual’s number of followers on their most popular account platform.
Harper received a search score of 3, was listed as having a $13 million endorsement figure, and had 1.4 million followers (Instagram) on his largest social media account.

Harper ranked two places behind New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, right behind Bangladesh cricket player Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, and just ahead of basketball player Blake Griffin.

The top four names on the list remained unchanged from a year ago. Soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo (1), Lionel Messi (3) and Neymar (4) were sandwiched around American basketball star Lebron James, who finished in second place.
Golfer Tiger Woods, a regular in the top 10 since the rankings began in 2016, fell from the #6 spot last year down to #10 in the current rankings. Dropping out of the top 10 from a year ago was basketball star Kevin Durant, replaced by Indian cricket star Virat Kohli.
Harper also becomes the first baseball player to make the Top 100 since the first year that the list was created back in 2016. That year he was ranked #71 with seven more players from Major League Baseball recognized. Mike Trout (73), David Ortiz (78), Robinson Cano (85), Miguel Cabrera (88), Masahiro Tanaka (89), Albert Pujols (93) and Matt Kemp (100) all made that first list.
UPDATE: Harper was forced to leave Friday’s Grapefruit League game when he was drilled in the right ankle area by a fastball from Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Trent Thompson. Preliminary x-rays were negative and he is being sent for a more extensive examination. Even assuming it is just a bad bruise, he could miss enough spring training time now that he would miss Opening Day and beyond.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as Bryce Harper is officially the most famous baseball player in the world

ESPN to open 2019 Sunday Night Baseball at Citizens Bank Park

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The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball team will open 2019 at Citizens Bank Park

We are still four months away from the opening of the 2019 Major League Baseball season. But as we move through this off-season, Phillies fans will be clutching at any news of the team to help make it through these cold months.

Today comes word that the Phillies have been chosen by ESPN to host the network’s first Sunday Night Baseball telecast of that 2019 season. The game on Sunday, March 31, 2019 at Citizens Bank Park will have a 7:00PM EDT start time.


That information first came out on Monday afternoon in a Tweet from Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic.
Montemurro followed up that this will be the first time that the Phillies have led off the Sunday Night Baseball coverage since the 2009 season, with the team as defending World Series champions at that time.
The Phillies’ game against the Braves on March 31 at CBP has been chosen as MLB’s first Sunday Night Baseball game of the season. Will be a 7 p.m. start on ESPN.


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This time around the Phillies will be hosting the division-rival Atlanta Braves. The Phillies and Braves battled for the lead in the National League East Division over most of this past summer.
The Phillies spent most of July at the top of the division with the Braves doing the chasing. Atlanta finally passed the Phillies on August 14 and pulled away to win the division. The Phillies actually faded to finish in third place, falling behind the Washington Nationals by the end of the season.
The Braves are likely to enter 2019 as favorites to successfully defend their division crown. However, the Phillies are believed to be major players for a handful of big-name impact free agents who could quickly change that line of thinking.
The Phillies and Braves are scheduled to open their 2019 season with a 3:05PM game on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The two teams are then scheduled to meet again on Saturday, March 30 with another afternoon game scheduled to begin at 4:05PM.
ESPN has been broadcasting the Sunday Night Baseball program since the start of the 1990 season. Matt Vasgersian handled ESPN’s play-by-play duties this past season, with former softball star Jessica Mendoza and MLB all-star Alex Rodriguez joining him on the broadcasts as color commentator and analyst respectively.


We may still have months to go before that Sunday night, but those months will indeed pass. Before you know it, it will be time to head down to South Philly to enjoy a Phillies game at our beautiful ballpark. Or you can just stay home and enjoy the games on TV, including this broadcast from ESPN.

Ex-Phil Schilling a Witch Hunt Victim

By now, most people are aware that former Phillies 1990’s pitching ace Curt Schilling was recently suspended from his gig covering the Little League World Series for ESPN, and removed for a week from his Sunday Night Baseball broadcast on the network.
What most are unaware of is the true reason: a “witch hunt” mentality which saw his actual actions distorted completely by the numerous people who dislike his outspokenness and his politics.
Now the rest of this post is going to deal with difficult topics like “math” and “truth”, so if you have a rough time with either of those, or prefer your “sports” in the tame realm of scores and trades and such, you might want to just move along.
But if you genuinely care about why it is important that you NOT blindly follow the anti-Schillites, not allow yourself to take part in this partisan witch hunt, then please, read on.
Let’s first address what actually happened to cause the suspension. Schilling was accused of making, or more appropriately sharing, an “anti-Muslim” statement.

He was further charged by some with comparing Muslims to Nazis. Some never actually state what it is specifically that he said or shared, just that whatever it was, was “offensive” in some way.

Here is the specific post that caused all of the uproar, unfiltered:
Now let’s see what this posting and graphic does not do: nowhere does it compare “Muslims” to “Nazis”, instead it compares Muslim “extremists”, radicals such as ISIS and al Qaeda, to 1940 German “extremists” known as Nazis.
If you disagree with this graphic or his tweet, is your argument that Nazis were not extremists? Is your argument that there are no Muslim extremists? Is your argument that Muslim extremism is not a genuine problem in the world today?
Yes, there are extremists of all ilks: religious, political, sociological. And not all Nazis were Germans. But if your answer to any of the questions in that last paragraph is “Yes“, that any of those statements is not true, then you are simply wrong, and you are ignorant of the truth of world events. I would ask, where were you on September 11th, 2001?
What DOES the graphic do: it compares the extremism of the Nazis of 1940 to the extremism of Radical Islam today. It also lists percentages. Maybe your problem is with the math, or the statistics?
In 1940, the population of Germany was approximately 70 million. Meanwhile, the Nazi Party membership in the country has been estimated at 5.3 million and rising by that year.
The point? That the graphic shared and commented on by Schilling is correct in regards to that issue. In fact, it may even be understating the 1940 problem. Do the math yourself.
In 2010, the global Muslim population was estimated at approximately 1.6 billion. Anti-extremism activist and national security expert Brigitte Gabriel, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, was quoted as follows:

“The radicals are estimated to be between 15 to 25 percent, according to all intelligence services around the world…You’re looking at 180 million to 300 million people dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization…
Now keep in mind, she didn’t mention violence by Muslims anywhere in that statement. The destruction of Western civilization, according to the radical Islamist fundamentalists, would involve simply the replacement of our current democracies with adherence to Sharia Law, however such a change can be attained.
Let’s say her figures are greatly exaggerated. Let’s say that the low figure in the graphic is closer to truth. Doing that math, 5% of 1.6 billion is 80 million radical Islamists.
These people want our society changed to one obedient to Sharia Law. If you don’t know already, research how such a change would affect women, homosexuals, alcoholics, gamblers, those having unmarried sex, and frankly anyone who is not a Muslim.
If you don’t see the analogy to 1940, especially with actively violent groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and numerous other groups waging violent Jihad, then I would suggest that your first and most important effort should be in removing your head from the ground in which you have it buried.
Curt Schilling added his own little statement to the graphic. As seen above, Schilling tweeted out: “the math is staggering when you get to true numbers.
When there were 5 million Nazis and rising in 1940, we saw the destruction and violence they were capable of wreaking on the world in just a few years. When we see that “the math” Schilling talks about results in some 80 million radical Islamists today, well, if you don’t agree with him that the numbers are staggering, again, I suggest the problem is yours, not his.
I also suggest that the problem is ESPN’s, which put out the following official statement:
Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We have removed him from his current assignment… pending further consideration.
I ask them, and those who have subsequently attacked Schilling, even calling for him to be outright fired from the network: what SPECIFICALLY was “completely unacceptable” about this tweet? And to ESPN, what IS your “company’s perspective” on those specifics?
I would absolutely love to hear anyone from ESPN, or anywhere in fact, explain with specificity to the kids playing in the Little League World Series exactly why Curt Schilling was suspended from broadcasting their games.
My take? Political and social liberals, radical Islamist apologists, and simply those who just plain don’t like Schilling because they think he is a big mouth in general all raised their voices, and ESPN acted rashly and with cowardice.
If you don’t like Curt Schilling, that’s one thing. If you simply think he is a bad broadcaster, that his opinions on baseball are hogwash, or that his voice is like chalk on chalkboard to you, fine. But guess what, that’s why God made chocolate and vanilla. We all like and dislike a lot of things.
To take our personal dislike for a person and turn it into a witch hunt that calls for him to be vilified publicly as a human being, and to lose his livelihood? That’s something else entirely.
One factor that I am not aware of, and one that has not popped up anywhere in public, is the idea of a contract between Schilling and ESPN. Is he under contract, one that specifically lays out policies on refraining from commenting in public forums on societal issues outside of baseball or sports while under their employment?
Curt Schilling is 5th on the Phillies all-time franchise Strikeouts list, 7th in Wins, 9th in Innings Pitched, and 7th in WHIP. That makes him a Top 10, possibly Top 5 all-time starting pitcher for a 133-year old franchise.
Plenty of Philly media types consider Schilling a big mouth. He is, and has frankly called himself one as well. None of those critics of his style can speak badly about his performance on the field.
None of those outstanding career baseball statistics would excuse reprehensible speech or behavior by Schilling. This ain’t that. This is a witch hunt, plain and simple.
Sports fans and media members, anyone who cares about freedom in America, especially those who care about freedom of speech, should be supporting Schilling – loudly.

Writers Write

Press box at Comerica Park in Detroit, home of the Tigers

The great Flannery O’Connor was quoted regarding writing: “I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius, but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away.

What she was saying in her oh so elegant way was that we writers need to do: it’s not good enough to call yourself a writer, or to say you want to be a writer. Writers write. It’s in the doing. O’Connor was emphasizing that you need to do, and do regularly, or your talent will waste away.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few years, but in particular over the last few months, as I prepare to transition from one career to the next. Whether I ever draw a paycheck, a royalty check, a residual check, whatever – my next career will be as a writer.

The importance in writing is not whether you make money from your creative output, though I will never undervalue the importance of earning a living. The earning is an entirely separate issue. What is at it’s most basic for a writer is that very output.

Writers write.

Flannery O’Connor, one of the great American writers

It’s the very thing that makes you a writer: the output. The creative release from inside. The rolling around in your head of an idea, of words and thoughts and images, and then transferring those into a piece for someone else to enjoy, or to learn from, or both.

In choosing to combine my God-given talent for writing with my love for the greatest game that was ever invented, baseball, I have stumbled across some very interesting opinions, thoughts, and considerations held by other baseball writers.

One that I’ve found of particular interest is the expressed thought from more than one “professional” baseball writer, and I use that term in parentheses only to differentiate someone who is currently drawing a paycheck for their efforts from someone not currently being paid, to not understand why someone would write “for free” for another entity.

Frankly, it’s difficult for me to understand how such writers don’t get it. It’s actually a fairly simple concept. You write for someone else, some other entity: a website, a newspaper, a magazine, because of opportunity. They are willing to give you not only the opportunity to express yourself, but they are giving you a forum that is likely larger than you would have on your own.

For instance, in my own writing, I have my own website. Have had it for years: www.mattveasey.com, and you can find my thoughts on a wide variety of topics going back over the last decade: politics, society, faith, life, family, media, sports, and many others. But beyond a few dozen of my own friends and family, who is actually ever visiting my website and reading my articles?

About six months ago, I specifically and intentionally decided to dedicate myself to writing almost exclusively about baseball. Why? It’s fairly simple. I have frequently heard throughout my life that if you can make a living doing something you love, you won’t actually work a single day. For me, baseball is a love. So I choose to write the game.

After I write an article, I put out a link to that article on social media, at Facebook and Twitter. At some point a few months ago, someone who had read my work offered me a position writing for the Fansided network, the fastest-growing independent network of sports, entertainment, and lifestyle sites on the web, which had entered into an agreement with Sports Illustrated to get more voices heard.

Within Fansided, I specifically am writing for their MLB arm, with the Philadelphia Phillies team feed called That Ball’s Outta Here, or TBOH for short. The name, of course, is based on the old home run call by the legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

I don’t get paid. But what I do get is exposure. My words go out through a multitude of social media methods from both TBOH and Fansided, so any article that I write under their banner is exposed to thousands of social media users. By extension, some percentage of these are going to actually read my article. Some percentage of those are going to follow my writing more.

That is what you get from writing for an entity that is not paying you. They receive product from me, and other writers, in the form of my writing efforts. I get the exposure that their network receives. Fansided, for instance, has over 113,000 followers at it’s Facebook page.

When people read and enjoy your work, they tend to regularly follow you as an individual writer. Over time, you build an individual brand and fan base. If you’re good enough, and lucky enough, and produce enough, then at some point you have a shot at actually landing one of those paying gigs.

“Insiders” like Buster Olney enjoy one tremendous advantage: access

There is very little to distinguish a good writer who gets paid for his output from one who does not. The biggest difference is usually two-fold. First, the person getting paid for their writing can often concentrate solely on that writing. Others, such as myself, have another job/career and just can’t devote the time or effort that we would often like to our writing craft.

The other distinction, and it can be a key one in the world of baseball and other sports, is access. Writer’s who cover teams for Major League Baseball, or Comcast, or Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, etc are given access inside ballparks and locker rooms. They get to interview players, team officials, and others first-hand, and/or are inside the room during press conferences.

That first-hand access is the single most valuable resource held by those covering the game for a living today. Individuals such as Jon Heyman, Buster Olney, and Ken Rosenthal in baseball are considered “insiders” due to their particular access, and the contacts inside the game that they have developed over a period of years covering the sport.

This does not, however, grant these individuals some special knowledge of the game itself that makes their opinions any greater than those of us on the “outside”, but writing and commenting on the game. Having watched, followed, played, managed, and written on the game for decades, my opinions are as valid as any of these individuals regarding the game itself.

As a for instance, Heyman put out on social media this statement in regards to tonight’s Game 6 of the World Series, with Kansas City trailing San Francisco 3-2, but hosting the final two games: “that home teams won games 6 and 7 in recent year(s) isn’t relevant. what matters is Giants experience. kc in tough spot imo.

So Jon Heyman, baseball “insider”, is basically saying that history is not relevant, and that the only thing that matters is the experience of one of the two teams, and that this is all in his opinion (imo – in my opinion.) So his opinion should be taken as more important than history. Ludicrous.

The best predictor of an outcome, be it in politics, personal behavior, or baseball, is history. What is past is prologue. What Jon Heyman thinks, his opinion, is what is irrelevant. That the Giants have experience is not irrelevant, but it also is not the overriding factor here.

What is important? 74% of teams down 3-2 in a World Series and playing Game 6 at home have forced a Game 7. And since 1979, no team has won a World Series Game 7 on the road. Bottom line? That Game 5 gem from Madison Bumgarner, in fact both the Giants wins in Games 4 and 5, were must-wins. And even with those, the odds are against them and with the Royals.

I don’t mean to pick on Heyman. He generally does a nice job reporting on the game. But remember that when you are reading, listening, and following sports-related writers, columnists, reporters, commentators, etc that all you are usually getting is their opinion, which is frankly no better than yours or mine. The big difference? These folks have a platform to sound their opinion.

Ernest Hemingway, great American bleeder

It’s 2014: you have the opportunity to have your own platform. Think you know something about baseball, football, hockey, golf, politics, music, art, banking, teaching, public safety, religion, romance, or any topic on Earth? Start a blog. Go to Blogger, or WordPress, or any similar site, and start writing.

Think you’re a writer? If you have the gift, you’ll find out soon enough. But you’ll never find out if you don’t start writing and keep on writing. Ernest Hemingway said it most colorfully: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Get bleeding. Get writing. Writers writer.

The Greatest Sporting Event on Earth

The 2014 FIFA World Cup opened yesterday with host Brazil coming away victorious with a 3-1 result over Croatia.

Every four years, national teams from around the world meet in what has become by far the world’s most-watched and followed sporting event.

While American football and baseball are king here in the sports-crazed USA, it is “football”, or what we here call “soccer”, that is king most everywhere else on Earth. It is estimated that 48% of the globe’s population watched some portion of the 2010 World Cup, won that year by Spain in South Africa.

The host nation, Brazil in this year’s case, receives an automatic invitation to the tournament. But to reach the World Cup, the 206 other national teams play a series of qualifying matches in their geographical section of the world, known as “federations” in soccer-speak, during the preceding couple of years.

The results of these regional federation qualifying tournaments enable another 31 nations to qualify for the actual World Cup tournament. The whole system is run under the FIFA umbrella, the world’s ruling and governing body for the sport.

After decades of lagging behind the rest of the planet, the U.S. has finally begun to take the sport more seriously. Over the last couple of decades the American men have become a legitimate force in “the beautiful game”, with the women already a dominating presence.

The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) competes in the federation known as CONCACAF, short for the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football. They have qualified now for 6 straight World Cups, hosted the 1994 edition, and are currently ranked 14th in the world.

There have been a handful of great results for the team. In the 1930 World Cup, they reached the semi-finals and finished in 3rd place, the best-ever finish for the USMNT. The next great moment came in 1950, when they defeated heavily favored England 1-0 in a group match. It would be 40 more years before the men again qualified, but have been regular participants since 1990.

In more recent World Cup appearances, the 2002 USMNT reached the quarter-finals, finally falling to a powerful and experienced Germany, the eventual tourney runners-up, by just 1-0. In 2010, they finished with a 1-1-2 record, but were eliminated in the round-of-16 by Ghana in a frustrating 2-1 defeat.

The World Cup tournament begins by dividing the 32 qualifiers into 8 groups of 4 teams each. The top 8 teams in the world are placed in separate Groups, and the others all randomly drawn. In this ‘Group’ stage, the teams play each of the others in their Group, with the top 2 finishers advancing to the round-of-16.

Those top 2 finishers in each Group now qualify for what is known as the “Knockout” stage, where you either win, or you get knocked out of the tournament. Teams cannot play others from their previous Group stage unless they meet in the Final.

The national teams seeded 1-8 as the top seeds in each Group this time around, are: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, and Switzerland. The U.S. was drawn into ‘Group G’, a particularly tough one that includes Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.

Three clear patterns have emerged in World Cup history. First, no team from outside of South America has ever won a World Cup held in the Americas. Second, the beaten team in the Final in each of those American tourneys has been from Europe. Finally, in 19 tourneys, any “top-tier” host country has finished among the final three on 11 occasions, boding well for top-tier hosts Brazil.

The current favorites among odds-makers to emerge from the 8 Groups are: Group A – Brazil & Croatia, Group B – Spain & Netherlands, Group C – Colombia & Ivory Coast, Group D – Italy & Uruguay, Group E – Switzerland & France, Group F – Argentina & Bosnia, Group G – Germany & Portugal, Group H – Belgium & Russia.

You may have noticed a pair of notable omissions from the odds-makers favorites to advance from the Group stage. The United States is not there, and neither is England, where the game is the national past time and passion, and home to the Premier League, the top-rated professional league in the world.

The USMNT is picked to finish 3rd in their Group G, behind both Germany and Portugal. The Germans are obvious favorites for the Group as the #2-rated team in the world. But despite being ranked 13th and Portugal ranked just behind at 14th, the odds-makers have made the Portuguese, led by one of the world’s top players in Cristiano Ronaldo, slight favorites to slip past the Americans and out of the Group stage.

If all goes according to form in Group G, the Germans will advance without too much trouble. The 2nd team to move on will come from a scrum between the USA, Portugal, and Ghana. The results of games among those teams will be pivotal. Ghana has become an American nemesis, eliminating the USMNT with 2-1 victories in both the 2006 Group stage and the 2010 round-of-16.

Between now and the 2014 World Cup Final to be held in Rio de Janeiro on July 13th, the drama will unfold, first in those Group stages, and then through the three Knockout stages, until one nation is left standing, it’s players holding aloft the gold World Cup Trophy as the citizens and fans of that nation party in the streets.

And also between now and the Final, approximately half of the population on the planet will tune in to the matches on television. From the frozen tundra of Antarctica to the African desert, from the war-ravaged Middle East to the Far East of Japan. From pubs in England and Ireland to American homes across our own country, support will come for the national teams, and even if eliminated, interest will continue all the way through.

The soccer World Cup is simply the greatest sporting even on Earth. As much as I personally love baseball and as big an event as the World Series is here in America, and even recognizing the growing global interest in the Super Bowl, perhaps the planet’s most-hyped single day sporting event, the scope and impact of the World Cup cannot be denied.

If you are a soccer fan, you don’t need me to sell you on this tournament. If you are just a casual sports fan, try to tune in at some point. Many of the games will be covered on TV here in the United States by the ESPN and ABC networks. Here is the schedule for Group stage matches involving the USMNT:

Monday, June 16th, 6pm: Ghana
Sunday, June 22nd, 6pm: Portugal
Thursday, June 26th, 12pm: Germany