The Week That Was: 2018 TV Upfronts

     The annual upfront week where television networks show off their fall slate of programs took place last week. Sports was certainly a big part of those presentations.

     Fox has owned broadcast rights to televise Sunday afternoon NFL games since 1994 and they have added onto that portfolio by investing $3.3 billion in order to have exclusive rights to televise the NFL’s Thursday night slate of games for the next five years.

     Fox’s game plan is to have its top Sunday team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, broadcast the games, while having its pregame talent pool, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan, and Curt Menefee handle their Thursday chores from New York instead of LA. My guess is that it’s being done to accommodate Michael Strahan’s duties on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

      Giants QB Eli Manning was on stage with his old teammate Michael Strahan at the Fox upfront presentation held at the Beacon Theater.  Manning got off a good quip that was not on the Teleprompter. He asked Strahan to consider coming out of retirement to play for the Giants/ “I am 46 years old!” replied Strahan. “Yeah, but Tom Brady is something like 52!” Manning countered which got big laughs.

    Fox brought in Giants QB Eli Manning to help tout its newly Thursday night NFL package. Eli asked his old teammate Michael Strahan to come back to play for the Giants.  “I’m 46!” Strahan replied. “Well, Tom Brady is like 52!” Eli replied to big audience laughter.

    Fox will also be broadcasting the 2018 World Cup from Russia this summer. Alexi Lalas, arguably the best-known American soccer player of all-time, will be the lead analyst. Lalas conceded that the absence of Team USA, which did not qualify for the tournament, may hurt ratings somewhat but feels that the interest overall is so strong that the decline, if any, will be negligible.

    Turner Sports is getting its feet wet with soccer for the first time as well this summer as it will televise the Union of European Football Associations championship tournament this August while its Sunday afternoon baseball package resumes right after the All-Star Game break.

   ESPN revealed at its upfront that the ubiquitous Alex Rodriguez will be hosting an interview show this fall. It will also be showing 63 short basketball documentaries starting in the fall.  

      The gold medal-winning US Olympic women’s hockey team got a standing ovation at the NBC upfront held at Radio City Music Hall.

      The CW will be launching a new show, “All American,” on Wednesday nights this fall which looks at the life of a star player who transfers from a high school in South Central LA to one in Beverly Hills. Think “90210″ meets “Friday Night Lights.”

     CBS Sports has quietly launched a very good website,, that provides scores, live reports, video content, and even a lot of fun trivia .

     St. John’s University alum Ed Ehrhardt, ESPN’s longtime president of global sales and marketing, told me just after the ESPN upfront concluded that he expects the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow states to have legalized sports betting will certainly help his network. On the other hand Ed is aware of the importance of corporate image to ESPN’s parent, Disney. My guess is that ESPN will be reluctant to run those cheesy ads from Las Vegas handicappers such as Wayne Root which have been a staple on regional cable sports networks for years.

     The Mets suffered a big loss last Wednesday that went far beyond a dreary 12-1 matinee defeat at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. Reflective of how things have been going for the past month for our Flushing heroes, centefielder Juan Lagares, who was one of the few Mets who was hitting well, broke his big toe plantar plate running into the Citi Field wall to corral a long fly ball in the ninth inning. He is expected to miss the rest of the season waiting for it to heal following surgery.

     Juan Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes seem to wind up every season on the disabled list and this one is no different. Cespedes was on the DL with his usual nagging quad injury when Lagares got hurt.

    Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and field manager Mickey Callaway admitted the Mets have a lack of outfield depth. The remaining outfielders on the roster: Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto all bat left-handed and all three have struggled not surprisingly against southpaw pitching. They will have to deal with both lefties and a lack of rest since they will be playing a lot because Mickey Callaway has no other options.

     The Mets have won the last two games that Steven Matz has started but that seems to be more in spite of him than because of him. He has thrown so many pitches in the early frames of a game that Mickey Callaway had to pull him before the sixth inning.

     Another problem with Matz is that he seems to get unraveled very easily such as when an opposing runner steals a base or if a close play goes against the Mets. This past Saturday  Arizona Diamondbacks runner Jarrod Dyson appeared to have been thrown out at second base on a steal and the second base umpire called it in the Mets’ favor. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo challenged the decision and the cal was overturned on a replay review. Matz surrendered a two-run homer to the next batter, former Yankee John Ryan Murphy. Mets fans have seen this pattern from Matz throughout his career but it seems worse than ever.

     It’s safe to say that both New York Racing Association and NBC Sports executives are thrilled that Justify has a chance to be a Triple Crown winner heading into the Belmont Stakes  after winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. It will be interesting to see whether some fresh horses who did not race in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown will be entered into the Belmont Stakes to ruin the fun for Justify and trainer Bob Baffert.

     It should be noted that Justify won both big races on muddy tracks thanks to torrential rains that day. NYRA officials are hoping that the weather will be bright and sunny on June 9 so that attendance will be maximized.

    Attention all amateur golfers. The second annual Queensboro Open Golf Championship will take place on June 2 at the Douglaston Park Golf Course. For more info log onto

     A new energy drink on the market, B4, was developed by a pharmacist to provide various B vitamins that enhance liver health. Unlike most energy drinks, B4, does not have either caffeine or taurine. It should be noted that it does contain sugars however. For more info, log onto

     If you enjoy working out but hate the subsequent soreness that you sometimes feel afterwards, a new product called Lactigo purports to help reduce the pain. Lactigo is a liquid that you rub into your traditional sensitive spots before you begin your workout. For more specifics, log onto

     The German Tourist Bureau held a pres event last week that is promoting the country as a summer destination for epicureans.

     Among the little known facts is that Germany is the ninth largest exporter of wines and has chateaus that can match those of more famous European wine producers as Spain, France, and Italy.

     White asparagus is a special German vegetable delicacy and it is far tastier than its traditional, albeit healthier, green counterpart.

      A surprising fact about Berlin, Germany’s capital, is that the average cost of a hotel room there according to German tourism officials is $97.

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