Behind the Mic: Doc Emrick to Call MLB Network Game; Trent Dilfer Heading Back to ESPN After All

Veteran play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick will join MLB Network’s Bob Costas to call the MLB Network Showcase telecast of the Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, July 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will mark the first regular season MLB game call for Emrick, the preeminent hockey announcer in the United States and a lifelong baseball fan, following his guest stint with the Pirates’ broadcast team at Spring Training this past March. 

docheadshotEmrick’s call with Costas on July 8 follows previous guest appearances in the MLB Network Showcase booth by National Baseball Hall of Fame award winners Tim McCarver and Bob Uecker and multiple Emmy Award winner Al Michaels…

…In other “special engagement news, revered Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager joined ESPN’s NBA Finals broadcast team for Game 6 on June 16 on ABC. Sager shared sideline reporting duties with Doris Burke to round out Thursday’s team, which includes play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. This unique, one-time opportunity marked the first time Sager worked an NBA Finals broadcast in his legendary career…

…Trent Dilfer’s has reached a multi-year extension with ESPN and will take on an expanded role this fall, according to MMQB. On top of his current duties, he’ll join Sunday NFL Countdown and work alongside Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Berman, and Charles Woodson. Dilfer, a quarterback who played 14 NFL seasons for Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Seattle, Cleveland and San Francisco, joined ESPN in 2008. (MMQB)…

…According New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman, CBS Sports will not bring the former referee back as its rules analyst for the 2016 season. According to the report, it is highly unlikely CBS will look to hire another retired official to replace Carey, who spent 24 seasons as an NFL ref before making the leap into television. (New York Daily News)…

…NBC Olympics continues to flesh out its on-air team for the Rio Olympics, naming Al Michaels, Dan Patrick, Rebecca Lowe, Liam McHugh and Carolyn Manno as hosts for its coverage. Michaels, Patrick, Lowe, McHugh and Manno join Bob Costas, NBC’s primetime Olympics host for the 11th time, and Ryan Seacrest, who will host NBC’s late night show from Rio. Michaels will serve as a host during NBC’s daytime coverage on weekdays and weekends.  Patrick and Lowe will work across both NBC and NBCSN.  McHugh and Manno will handle NBCSN hosting duties. NBC’s daytime coverage will originate from Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Copacabana Beach.

In addition, TODAY’s Hoda Kotb will join Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira as hosts for the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics. In addition to her Opening Ceremony role, Kotb will serve as an NBC Olympics correspondent throughout the Games, providing her unique brand of conversation, commentary and insight into the sights, sounds and happenings in Rio. She will also be a part of the TODAY anchor team in Rio throughout the Olympics. Kotb previously worked at multiple Olympics for NBC News, including in Athens (2004), Torino (2006), Beijing (2008) and London (2012). Since 2008, Kotb has co-hosted with Kathie Lee Gifford the fourth hour of TODAY. In that time, the fourth hour has been hailed as “appointment television” by Entertainment Weekly, “uproarious and irresistible” by People, and “Today’s happy hour” by USA Today. 

In more NBC Olympics news. Dave Briggs (Bravo/Tennis), Ahmed Fareed (USA Network), Brett Haber (Bravo/Tennis), Fred Roggin(CNBC) and Rob Simmelkjaer (MSNBC) will serve as hosts for NBC Olympics coverage of the Rio Olympics…

The Portland Trail Blazers have hired broadcast veteran Kevin Calabro as its new television play-by-play voice starting with the 2016-17 season, Calabro takes over for play-by-play host Mike Barrett, who departed the Trail Blazers along with color analyst Mike Rice earlier this week after 13 years calling Portland’s games.  A national search continues for a color analyst to pair with Calabro. Calabro spent 21 years as a television and radio announcer for the former Seattle SuperSonics until that franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.  Instead of relocating with the team, he chose his love for the Pacific Northwest and remained in the Seattle area, currently a regular post season national play-by-play announcer for ESPN Radio, Turner Broadcasting and NBA TV, as well as a member of the Westwood One Radio announcer team for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament…

…ESPN college sports play-by-play commentator Jason Benetti called his first nationally-televised MLB game for ESPN on Wednesday Night Baseball on June 22, at 10 p.m. ET, joining analysts Doug Glanville and Rick Sutcliffe in the booth. Benetti was hired by the Chicago White Sox as a television play-by-play commentator for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN Sports earlier this year. He joined ESPN in 2011 and has called college football, college baseball and college lacrosse telecasts along with high school football and Little League baseball telecasts.  Benetti was born with cerebral palsy and works with the “Just Say Hi’ campaign as part of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation…

…Olympic snowboarder and television commentator Todd Richards will host the inaugural Nitro World Games. Joining him as co-hosts are skate icon Tony Hawk and FMX legend Travis Pastrana. The Nitro World Games will air Saturday, July 16 on NBC at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. Central from Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. A seven-time X Games medalist, World Snowboarding Champion and Olympian, Richards has provided in-depth analysis for ESPN’s X Games coverage and most recently served as NBC Olympics’ snowboarding analyst for coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a position he has held since the 2006 Winter Games in Torino. With over 30 X Games medals between them, Hawk and Pastrana have redefined their disciplines, breaking landmark records, such as Hawk’s seminal 900 and Pastrana’s groundbreaking double backflip, previously thought insurmountable.