ESPN is taking a low-key approach to its first telecast of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft from 1-5 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2.
The fact that it is being televised at all shows how far MLB officials have gone in changing their attitude about publicizing the draft. A few years ago, it was conduced in near secrecy.
“We have no expectations,” said ESPN senior vice president Len DeLuca in a conference call Monday. “We’ll have a lovely afternoon in which we can sit down and attract the great MLB fan who wants to know who will be the next great star on his team, if in fact you can determine that from this, and maybe we’ll attract some casual viewers. We know this is not an event that is tantamount to the NFL draft or NBA draft.”
The fact that it is being held on a weekday afternoon shows neither baseball nor ESPN is expecting a big audience.
Karl Ravech will serve as host with analysts Peter Gammons and Steve Phillips from Orlando, Fla. Additional contributors will include ESPN.com’s Keith Law, ESPN.com fantasy expert Matthew Berry, Baseball America’s Jim Callis and the Perfect Game’s Dave Rawnsley (of the amateur baseball site www.pgcrosschecker.com).
ESPN will provide coverage of the first-round and compensation picks. Producers have lined up video highlights of the top 60-70 players. Teams will have only five minutes between first-round picks, meaning the telecast will move quickly, unlike the NFL draft, which has 15 minutes between picks.
Vitale picks Cavs to win NBA Finals: ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale, appearing on Monday’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” show on ESPN Radio and ESPN2, predicted a victory for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. “I’m picking Cleveland to win that series in seven for a very simple reason – LeBron,” Vitale said. “Like Magic, when he was a rookie, when they had to play without Kareem … he would not allow them to lose. That was the defining moment in the world of Magic. He (LeBron) is not going to let Cleveland lose.”
NFL Network ranks bad weather games: What game had the worst weather in NFL history? The NFL Network (Cox 252) will list its top 10 at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The hour show features archival footage of each game along with fresh interviews with former players and coaches including Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary and Don Shula.
Of course, the “Ice Bowl” will be included. The 1967 NFL Championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field was played in -13 conditions with a wind chill of -46. The Packers beat Dallas 21-17 on Bart Starr’s 1-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds left.
The most recent game will be the New England Patriots’ 16-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC divisional playoffs. Three inches of snow fell during the final game at Foxboro Stadium. Adam Vinatieri kicked the game into overtime with a 45-yard field goal five plays after the “Tuck Rule” overturned a Patriots’ fumble. Vinatieri won the game with a 23-yard kick in overtime.