MLB Media Notes: Cubs In Talks With Fox As Conclusion To WGN Deal Approaches
CSNCHICAGO.com's Patrick Mooney cited sources as saying that the Cubs "are in talks with Fox about their broadcasting future, working on a deal that would end the WGN connection that built the team's national brand and potentially lay the groundwork" for a second RSN in Chicago. The Cubs "are locked into WGN for one more season, and Comcast SportsNet Chicago has exclusive cable rights" through '19. One concept "being discussed is a bridge deal that would put X-number of games on a local Fox affiliate during that five-year window, before taking the full schedule to a new channel" in '20 (CSNCHICAGO.com, 1/13).
MICKEY BLUE EYES: In Philadelphia, Bob Brookover reports former MLBer and current Triple-A Int'l League Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Mickey Morandini last week "was contacted by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia to see whether he would be interested in the role of color analyst" for Phillies broadcasts. Sources said that CSN Philly also "has been in contact with Ricky Bottalico, Kevin Stocker, and Mitch Williams." Both ESPN's John Kruk and former MLBer Brad Lidge publicly have said that they "were contacted but not interested." Chris Coste, Doug Glanville and Ben Davis also "have been mentioned as candidates" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/16).
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: WEEI-FM's Kirk Minihane wrote the "issue of conflict of interest" has come up around the fact that Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks and NESN Red Sox reporter Jenny Dell have acknowledged they are in a relationship and are living together. There is "no way NESN can bring her back in her current position" covering the team after the pair disclosed the relationship. There also is "no way NESN's coverage of the Red Sox can be taken seriously if Dell is allowed to return to that position," as the "already blurred lines will permanently be crossed" (WEEI.com, 1/14).
PRIMETIME PLAYERS: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale noted the Dodgers, Red Sox, Cardinals and Yankees "will be shown three times on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball in the season's first four months." The Dodgers "will be on the first two broadcasts." The Red Sox on April 20 host the Orioles, "just a little more than one year after the Boston Marathon bombings" (USA TODAY, 1/15).