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Behind the Broadcast: NBC Sports regrouping, trying to put positive spin on Belmont

Saturday, June 9, 2012
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At 10:25 a.m. Friday, the NBC Sports media relations department emailed a press release to promote its “Championship Saturday” coverage. The network had three big events — the French Open women’s singles final in the morning, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals that could see the Los Angeles Kings win the title over the New Jersey Devils and, the big one, I’ll Have Another going for horse racing immortality by winning the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.

Shortly after the press release came out, NBC Sports’ dream day became a huge nightmare.

A swollen tendon ended I’ll Have Another’s bid to become the 12th horse to capture the Triple Crown. That means the 34-year Triple Crown drought continues. Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown, doing it in 1978.

Now, I’ll Have Another becomes the 12th horse since 1978 to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but not finish first in the Belmont Stakes.

Adam Freifeld, vice president of communications for the NBC Sports Group, released a statement, saying, “While we are obviously disappointed that our show won’t feature I’ll Have Another going for the elusive Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is still an iconic event on the sports schedule, and the NBC Sports Group broadcasts will treat it as such. We’re working now to adjust the game plan accordingly.”

What that game plan is remains to be seen. This much we know: NBC Sports Network and NBCSN HD will have the Belmont Stakes undercard at 3 p.m. today.

However, the Belmont Stakes has just become another horse race.

Certainly, Capital Region horse racing fans will probably tune in to the coverage on NBC13 and NBC13 HD starting at 4:30 p.m. because Mechanicville native Chad Brown is the trainer of Belmont Stakes contender Street Life.

But for the casual fan who was caught up in the Triple Crown chase? I doubt that they will be taking time out today to tune in. There isn’t any drama now.

And that is too bad for horse racing. I’m not a fan of the sport, but I was interested to see if I’ll Have Another could win the Triple Crown. This is just another blow to a sport that needs something to catapult it back to national prominence.

The Belmont Stakes will also be on ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team (WTMM) starting at 5 p.m.

state lacrosse finals

Time Warner Cable Sports will televise the New York State boys’ and girls’ high school lacrosse championships today.

TWCS-3 and TWCS-3 HD will have the boys’ finals from Middletown High School. Action starts at 11 a.m. with the Class C final between Penn Yan and Shoreham-Wading River. The Class A final is at 1:30 p.m., with Ithaca taking on West Islip. The Class B final is between Irondequoit and Garden City at 4.

TWCS-1 will televise the girls’ championships at SUNY-Cortland. It gets under way at 9:30 a.m. with the Class C final. The Class A championship is noon, and the Class B final is 2:30 p.m.

parting shots

ESPN and ESPN HD have Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at 8:30 tonight. The winner faces the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals starting at 9 p.m. Tuesday on ABC10 and ABC10 HD. . . .

The Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees is on FOX23 and FOX23 HD tonight at 7:15. Sunday’s game at 1 p.m. will be on CW15, CW15 HD, YES and YES HD. . . .

NBC13 and NBC13 HD will have the finals of the French Open men’s championship at 9 a.m. Sunday. . . .

Longtime Buffalo Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret was selected by the NHL Broadcasters’ Assoc­iation to receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, it was announced Friday. Jeanneret will be honored at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Nov. 12. . . .

The Golf Channel and Golf Channel HD have the final two rounds of the LPGA Wegmans Championship today and Sunday at 2 p.m. . . .

CBS Sports Network and CBSSN HD will have Game 4 of the AHL Calder Cup finals between the Norfolk Admirals and the Toronto Marlies today at 3 p.m. The Admirals have a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. If the Mar­lies, who feature former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute forward Jerry D’Amigo, win, Game 5 will be Sunday at 3 p.m. on CBSSN and CBSSN HD. . . .

The U.S. Open golf tournament gets under way Thursday. ESPN and ESPN HD have the first two rounds at noon and 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday. NBC13 and NBC13 HD will have coverage on those days at 3 p.m. . . .

Former Miami Dolphins linebacker/defensive end Jason Taylor has joined ESPN as a studio an­alyst for its various studio shows. He will appear on “NFL Live,” “NFL32” and “SportsCenter,” in addition to contributing to “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Monday Night Countdown.” . . .

Tiger Woods can draw an aud­ience when he is in contention to win a PGA event. Woods’ victory in The Memorial earned CBS Sports a 3.8 rating and 9 share for the final round last Sunday. That is a whopping, and I do mean whopping, 138 percent increase over last year, when the final round got a measly 1.6/4. The final-round rating peaked at a 5.7/12 between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday’s rating was the highest for the final round of The Mem­orial since 2004 (4.2/9). Saturday’s third-round rating was 2.5/7, up 67 percent from last year’s 1.5/4. . . .

Mets pitcher Johan Santana’s no-hitter last Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the first one in Mets’ history, earned SNY a 4.18 rating, it was announced Monday. It’s the highest-rated prime-time game (non-interleague) in nearly three years for the cable channel. SNY said that 744,000 viewers tuned in between 9:45 and 10 p.m. The rating during those 15 minutes was 7.73. . . .

CBS Sports will kick off its 19-game college football coverage Sept. 1, when Notre Dame plays Navy in Dublin, Ireland, at 9 a.m. CBS will have the BCS championship game rematch between Alabama and LSU at 8 p.m. Nov. 3. . . .

NBC Sports Group starts its 32-game college football coverage Sept. 8. NBC Sports will have Purdue at Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. NBCSN has a double-header — Delaware State at Del­aware at 3:30, followed by Army at San Diego State at 7:30.

 
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