No, 2009 baseball’s season isn’t about to begin but something big is coming at 6 o’clock Thursday evening…the MLB Network. Happy New Year for baseball junkies!
MLB Network will appear in approximately 50 million homes, the largest network debut in cable history. The new network recently launched MLBNetwork.com. Check out the “Channel Locator” on the home page to learn where the network can be seen in your area. (MLB Network will be available on major systems including Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Time Warner, Charter, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS).
Among the highlights:
**Hot Stove is a live, nightly off-season studio show. It will feature news, reports, and analysis of the moves clubs are making and planning in preparation for the 2009 season. Hot Stove is the lead-off hitter on Friday night, a one-hour show, followed by Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
**MLB Tonight, a live studio show that will air each Monday-Saturday night during the baseball season (6 o’clock ET until the last game ends).The show will air during the off-season at 7:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
**Other weekly shows include Prime 9 (Mondays), AL and AL Awards Shows (Wednesdays), Baseball Seasons (Wednesdays).
**Specials include the Hall of Fame announcement (Jan. 12) and Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues (Jan. 19).
**26 games will be televised live during the season.
There are some “Phillies connections:”
**One of the Studio hosts is Victor Rojas, son of former Phillies infielder Cookie Rojas (1963-69). Victor’s experience in the game has been as broadcaster with the Diamondbacks and Rangers.
**Analysts will include Mitch (Wild Thing) Williams and Dan Plesac, a pair of Phillies Alumni. Dan is part of Veterans Stadium history: the last Phillies pitcher on the mound in the final game of 2003.
**Studio 42 (named in honor Jackie Robinson) features a 25-foot out-of-town scoreboard modeled after the scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. Scores will be updated in real-time.
**Citizens Bank Park and all other MLB parks, will have two MLB Network cameras installed. The cameras will be controlled from the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., in order to fully realize the potential of MLB Tonight. These “Ballpark Cams” will be used for live pre- and post-game interviews with players and other subjects, as well as for live “look-ins” during games.
**Jimmy Rollins will be a guest on the Hot Stove show (Friday, 7 p.m.).
**Prime 9 leads off Monday with All-Time Centerfielders at 8 o’clock, followed by All-Time Home Runs 30 minutes later. Will Richie Ashburn be among the top 9 centerfielders? Will Mike Schmidt be in the All-Time Home Runs top 9?
**Cathedrals of the Game will focus on ballparks and Citizens Bank Park will be featured for 30 minutes (Monday, 9:30 p.m.).