What To Watch: Fri. 7/1 -Sun. 7/3

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 1st

Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays – 10am MLB.tv: The Tribe have been on fire. So much so that they are the hottest team in baseball. Jays are tough at home and it is Canada Day.

Wales vs Belgium – Noon ESPN2: Wales is still trucking in the Euro 2016 but this might be too big of a hill to climb.

Chicago Cubs at NY Mets -4pm MLBN: Two playoff teams from a year ago and by looks of it this year they’ll be back in the playoffs again. Hammel goes for the Cubs while deGrom goes for the Mets.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders – 7pm ESPN2: Both teams are coming off of embarrassing losses in week one but for completely different reasons. Both should make big strides this week.

Real Salt Lake vs DC United – 7:30pm UniMas: This is a solid match on paper. The X factor will be how DC United adjust to playing in ‘the fortress’, also known as Rio Tinto Stadium.

Saturday July 2nd

BikingTour de France – 3:30am NBCSN: Stage 1 of the 103rd Tour de France gets underway from Mont-Saint-Michel and ends at Utah Beach.

Germany vs Italy – Noon ESPN2: I am sure that there is some sort World War II joke here but we’ll just leave it at this…..

Apparently when you win a World Cup and embarrass Brazil in the process you can smell yourself during a match in France.

Montreal Impact vs New England Revolution – 2:30pm MLS.TV: The Revs can tie the Impact in point with a win but that is easier said than done when you have to travel to the great white north.

Nascar Coca-Cola 400 – 4:15pm NBC: Primetime racing from Daytona.

Sunday July 3rd

Tour de France – 5am NBCSN: Stage 2. No biggie, just one of the toughest races in all of sports.

NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – 9am ESPN: A New York Derby match for your holiday weekend. These teams are only separated by a point but the last time they got together at Yankee Stadium the Red Bulls piled on the goals in route to a 7-0 win. Expect things to be different this time.

France vs Iceland – Noon ESPN: Oh c’mon, you know you want to see the miracle run by a nation of less than 400k continue. Go Iceland!


The Best

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Pat Summitt has died at the age of 64. The trailblazing coach roamed the sidelines at Tennessee for 38 years, won eight national championships and 1,098 games. She has gone down as not only one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time but as one of the greatest coaches in all of sports.

“The word icon and the word legend is probably used too much in today’s sports society, but it is certainly appropriate when describing Pat Summitt,”

– Peyton Manning

Summitt was an innovator. Her teams practiced against men, played in your face defense and were famous for playing anybody, anywhere at anytime. She was once offered the Tennessee men’s basketball job where she replied, “Why is that considered a step up?” Years later while watching a men’s practice, she got so fired up at what she was seeing that she took over practice from then men’s coach Bruce Pearl.

She was renowned for her toughness. It was on full display when she went on a recruiting trip to Allentown, PA to convince future star Michelle Marciniak to come to Knoxville. Her water broke as she walked in the door and refused to let the pilots land anywhere but Tennessee where she gave birth to her only child Tyler. Yes, she epitomized ‘Tennessee Tough.’

That toughness was reflected in her team. Year in and year out, the Lady Vols were always among the country’s elite making 18 trips to the Women’s Final Four. They practiced hard, played hard and studied harder. I can remember a friend telling me how blown away he was by the fact that three members of the Lady Vols were in the front row of his 9am class the day after playing a late night game in Ames, IA during the NCAA Tournament.

While there are many great coaches in basketball, Pat Summitt is among the top. She is in the same class as Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight, Phil Jackson and John Wooden. Heck, you have to put her in the same class as Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, Knute Rockne, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre. She was one of the greats and will be sorely missed not just in Knoxville but around the world.

Tribute to Pat Summitt

The Sunday: Shirtless, Floods and Staying Loose.

No Shirt No Worries

The Cleveland Cavaliers are your NBA Champions. How do they celebrate? By going straight from Oakland, CA to Las Vegas, NV. Somewhere in Las Vegas JR Smith took off his shirt….he put it back on about two days later.


While the Golden State Warriors had the best regular season record of all time and held a 3-1 series lead against the Cavs, it would have been understood if they just went back to their locker room and sulked. They didn’t. Draymond Green paid respect LeBron after the game.



The PGA Tour cancelled an upcoming tournament after torrential rain flooded parts of the state killing 24 people.



The San Francisco Giants left fielder Angel Pagan let a home run get away…the only run of the game in a 1-0 Pittsburgh Pirates win over the San Francisco Giants. It was in his glove as he leapt onto the fence only to have it fall out of his glove.


I am Lionel Messi and You’re Not.

From 25 yards out…a thing of beauty.

Despite Messi’s goal and the three other goals that Argentina piled on, the US Men’s National Team didn’t have as bad of a night as Fox did.  From audio issues to incorrect graphics. It was a pretty horrible night for Fox Sports.


But How Bout This


Don’t Turn Around

Coastal Carolina has made it all the way to the College World Series final against Arizona. Once has to believe that their ability to stay loose has something to do with it.


Fighting On The Track

What To Watch: 6/24 – 6/26

All Times Pacific.

Friday June 24th

Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers – 4:10pm MLB.TV: A huge series in the AL Central. Detroit is four games back of the Tribe.

Montreal Winnipeg CFLMontreal Alouettes at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 5:30pm ESPN2: CFL opening weekend is underway and these are two teams where the signal caller spot is in question for various reasons. Should be fun because Lord knows what we’ll see.

Saturday June 25th

Wales vs Northern Ireland – 9am ESPN: Two teams who probably didn’t think they would get to the knock out stage of the EURO. They are also two who will officially not be part of the United Kingdom in the not too distant future.

Seattle Sounders vs NYCFC – 2pm ESPN: Seattle is not what it was but it is still an amazing atmosphere for NYCFC’s Frank Lampard and David Villa.

USA vs Columbia – 5pm FX: USA didn’t do well against Columbia in the first game of the tournament so it will be interesting to see if they can rebound from the embarrassing loss to Argentina and find a way to win this one.

Calgary Stampeders at BC Lions – 7pm ESPN2: Always a fun battle and a lot of changes for the Stamps this offseason. Curious to see if they can maintain their dominate ways.

LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes – 7pm UNIVISION: California Classico to top off your Saturday.

Sunday June 26th

France vs Ireland – 6am ESPN: Oh how crazy is Ireland going to go if they beat France? Little payback for the Thierry Henry handball from 2009?

Germany vs Slovakia – 9am ESPN: Better game than you might think. Upset? Maybe not but it should be fun regardless.

Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins – 10am MLB.TV: Great pitching matchup as Jason Hammel takes on Jose Fernandez.

Argentina vs Chille – 5pm FS1: The final of Copa America. Where we will probably see more of Lionel Messi doing this….

LA Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates – 5pm ESPN: Pirates went from a four game set with the SF Giants and then right into the Dodgers. They have to do better against these clubs if they want to have a chance at the playoffs.

Big Ten – The Last Big Sports Deal

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Big Ten’s media rights are all locked up. They will begin in 2017 and according to John Ourand of SBJ it’s a deal that very much falls in favor of the Big Ten and not the networks. One thing is certain about this deal from the networks perspective, it is the last time you’ll probably see a massive price increase.

People have been pointing to the Big Ten’s media deal for a few years now. The Big Ten was the last one of the Power Five conferences to sign a new deal and many people believe that this deal was either not going to be the typical windfall or would only increase slightly. Well it looks like it will mean $20 million a year more to the conference teams so it’s safe to say that the concerns were almost valid.

The real interesting part of this is ESPN’s late entry. They were in, then left the bidding and then returned to win part of the contract. Some thought they wouldn’t bid or would try to leverage some kind of lower end deal. In the end, they ponied up like they always do even after a very low opening bid.

Another interesting thing is that there is no mention of the Big Ten hoarding it’s digital rights. I along with other cord cutters were hoping that the Big Ten would keep it’s digital rights and sell them as a stand alone package on Amazon or through it’s own site. There was no mention of this to this point and it shows that the Big Ten had to use all it’s leverage to squeeze as much as it possibly could from this deal.

This will be the last time the major networks shell out this kind of cash though. The consumer is at a breaking point and are starting to refuse anymore price increases to support these kinds of transactions. ESPN knows this which is probably why they had such a low opening bid.

While this deal is great for the Big Ten and its teams it is the last hurrah for deals such as this. Networks are not going to be ponying up huge amounts of cash in the future and it is time that the sports leagues and conferences look to splitting out their packages and doing what I call the Jeff Bezos, less money out of each user but having a wider user base.


The Sunday: Hope And Bad Nature

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Hail Sager

It’s nice to see big corporations work things out so that someone like Craig Sager, who is battling acute myeloid leukemia, can work his first ever NBA Final. He was given a standing ovation by the Cleveland crowd and every interview he did was a real treat.

Catch Ball. Drink Beer

Sometimes you just gotta catch a foul ball in your beer and pound it down.

Club Drop

Lee Westwood is in the thick of it at the 116th US Open. Part of the reason is because he holed out from the fairway for an eagle at 14.


It’s called the ‘beautiful game’ for a reason. While it very much has an ugly side to it, sometimes it truly is beautiful as Spain showed us on Friday.


ESPN had to clear their EURO 2016 set this week after labor protests escalated in Paris. No one from the broadcast crew was injured but it’s still one more thing to worry about on a day when a police officer and his partner were murdered and there was still the worry of hooliganism by fans.

 Dr West

While the Washington Redskins may not be changing their name anytime soon they did do something noteworthy this week. They hired Dr. Robin West to be the teams director of sports medicine and in the process making her only the second lead lead orthopedic surgeon in the NFL.

What to Watch: Fri. 6/17 – Sun. 6/19

All times are Pacific.

Friday June 17th

ZlatanItaly vs Sweden – 6am ESPN: Sweden drew vs Ireland in their first game so they really, really need three points here. Can Zlatan get some good shots against the tough Italian defense?

US Open – 7am FS1 / 2pm FOX: Second round of the US Open from Oakmont. Time to see if Jordan Speith can repeat or if Dustin Johnson will hold on this year.

ArrietaPittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs – 11:22am MLB.TV: Two teams who are planning on competing against each other in October. Bonus: Jake Arrieta is scheduled to take the mound for the Cubs. He was also in the mound when the Cubs beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game last year.

Detroit Tigers at KC Royals – 5pm MLB.TV: These two are neck-and-neck in the AL Central. In fact there is only a game separating them in the standings.

Peru vs Columbia – 5pm FS1: We are into the quarterfinals of Copa America.

UFC Fight Night – 7:30pm FS1: Some good stand up fights on this one. Cowboy Cerrone vs Patrick Cote and the headline fight of Rory MacDonald vs Stephen Thompson.

Saturday June 18th

Belgium vs Ireland – 6am ESPN: Both need three points in this one if they have any hopes of advancing.

US Open – 8am FOX: Third round coverage of the US Open from Oakmont.

Toronto FC vs LA Galaxy – 4:30pm MLS LIVE: Some of the big stars for both clubs will not be there but it’s still a big game none the less.

Mexico vs Chile – 5pm FX: This should be a good one. Mexico has looked real strong to this point in the tournament.

Sunday June 19th

F1 European Grand Prix – 5am NBCSN: Cause sometimes you need to see how the F1 drivers do on a new track….in Azerbaijan.

US Open – 8am FOX: Final round of the 116th US Open.

Switzerland vs France – Noon ESPN: France has locked up a trip to the next round but the Swiss haven’t. The Swiss need a huge effort here to advance.

NY Red Bulls vs Seattle Sounders – 4:30pm FS1: Some big names will be missing for the Sounders but a draw or three points here would be huge for them.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 5pm ABC: Game seven. Nuff said.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs – 5pm ESPN: Sunday Night Baseball from Wrigley Field? Yes please!

Fixing ESPN

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

After pointing out the things wrong with ESPN, it is now time to point out how they can right the ship. Righting a ship that generated $10.8 billion in revenue in 2014 seems like an odd thing to say but it’s true. While this scenario does fall under the ‘disruption’ banner, there are some simple things ESPN can do to find some of the mojo again.

John Skipper is a smart guy. While there will be doubters out there after the whole ‘Bill Simmons incident’, you don’t become the head of Disney’s cash cow by being a moron. As he pointed out at the Code/Media Conference about why ESPN has been losing subscribers (which accounts for over 60% of it’s revenue), ‘cord cutting and some trading down from some larger packages to lighter packages’, which goes to show that Skipper is not turning a blind eye. He recognizes what is happening and has already begun to steer the ship into more favorable waters.

The ESPN family of networks is already on Sling TV which I have written about many times on this blog. Sling TV is cord cutting and ESPN is right there in the thick of it. ESPN needs to capitalize on OTT providers like Sling and sell it’s package outside of the satellite and cable providers (yes I do see the irony in that Sling is owned by Dish). ESPN needs their WATCH ESPN app to be stand alone and offer is on places like Amazon.com where you can get Starz and Showtime for $8.99 a month. They also need to offer is on platforms like Hulu, who is coming out with a live TV package,  XBOX, and Playstation. ESPN needs to break from the shackles of cable and stand on it’s own.

Crazy? Not if you read Clayton Christensen’s ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma.

ESPN’s situation is a cross between sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation. In the sustaining innovation model, ESPN has to figure out how to create better products that they can sell for better profits to their customers. They own rights to just about every major sport so it’s clear that they have the inventory to do this. All it takes now is the will which it sounds like they do.

They are also battling disruptive innovation but they can win here too. TV was once complicated and expensive and to a degree it still is. However the OTT providers are disrupting this model and making it affordable and in some ways simpler. Like I mentioned a moment ago, ESPN has to stop dipping it’s toes in the water and just dive in. Yes it will upset existing contracts and partners in the short term but in the long run, it will be the right decision.

adcontentThere is some of the lower hanging fruit that ESPN can pick and start to develop some wins. One of these is to improve their ads on ESPN.com. This playing of 30 second ads on their website in front of a piece of content that is only 33 seconds is just mind boggling. This is a damn ‘if/else’ statement in the code. It’s not rocket surgery. Yes you have to make money selling ads but you can also drive away your viewers away in the process. They have to find a balance and a better way to present advertisements online.


They also have to develop new talent. A lot of play-by-play and color commentators have walked out the door in recent months but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. They still have Jon Gruden, Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, Todd Blackledge, Steve Levy, Kirk Herbstreet, Rece Davis, Chris Fowler, Scott Van Pelt and Bob Ley among their talent pool. They need to add to it along with continuing to find innovative bloggers and reporters or people like Nate Silver.

ESPN is taking some hits but they are not denying it. They do not have their heads buried in the sand. Changes to OTT, developing talent, and creating new products takes time. The first step in identifying the problem is recognizing you have one. Skipper recognizes it and is taking steps to right the ship.

The Sunday: Passing, Goals and Tackles

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Passing

Gordie Howe passes away on the same day as Mohammad Ali’s funeral. If Ali was boxing, Howe was hockey. He was ‘Mr Hockey’….literally.

Howe played 1,687 games with the Detroit Red Wings and 1,767 games across 26 NHL seasons. As Fox Sports Bruce Feldman pointed out in his tweet,

Howe will be dearly missed.


4 for Fighting

Sometimes you don’t like a 90mph plus fastball in the back. Manny Machado received a four game suspension and Yordano Venture received a nine game suspension. No word yet on if a UFC contract is forthcoming for either player.


The Grab and Grand Slam

Auburn’s Tiffany Howard….robber of home runs.

The Goals

Not a good day for Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici….


Paraguay’s Victor Ayala nearly stole the show this week with this goal…

Then Lionel Messi should why he is the best player in the world. He had a hat trick in about 20 minutes after coming on as a sub in Argentina’s match against Panama.

Not The Best Idea

Running onto the court is never a good idea. While the criminal had ‘Trump Suck’s’ written across his chest, the tackle was better. Get this security guy a tryout with the Browns.



What To Watch: 6/10 – 6/12

All times are Pacific.

Friday June 10th

France vs Romania  – Noon ESPN2: The Euro 2016 gets underway with host country France getting us started. They are also one of the favorites to win the whole thing.

Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 6pm ABC: If the Cavs play like they did in game three then this could be a heck of a series.

Panama vs Argentina – 6:30pm FOX: No Luis Suarez no problem right for Argentina right? Well we’ll see. Three points for either club probably locks up a spot in the knockout rounds of the Copa America.

Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants – 7:15pm MLBN: The pitching matchup alone is enough reason to tune into this one. Clayton Kershaw vs Johnny Cueto.

Saturday June 11th

Wales vs Slovakia – 9am ESPN: Wales, yes Wales is in the Euro and looking to make some noise.

England vs Russia – Noon ESPN: Wow, enough story lines here to make your head spin. At least from a political point of view. Soccer wise, England should have this.

USA vs Paraguay – 4pm FS1: USA wins and they move into the next round in the Copa America. A draw probably gets them through but a loss could, possibly send them home.

Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels – 7pm FS1: The Indians lead the AL Central and the Angels have enough offensive firepower to take out a small country.

Sunday June 12th

Germany vs Ukraine – Noon ESPN: Germany looks to add a Euro 2016 title to their mantle to go with their 2014 World Cup title.

St Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates – 3pm ESPN: These two have probably written off trying to catch the division leading Chicago Cubs but a wild card slot is not out of the question.

Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks – 5pm NBC: Game six in the Shark Tank. It’s still an uphill climb for San Jose down 3-2 in the series.

Peru vs Brazil – 5:30pm FS1: Huge match for this group. Winner moves on while the loser, in likelihood, goes back to South America.