Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday's MLB Pitching Probables

HOU at PHI 1:05 PM
HOU: B Myers (R)
PHI: R Halladay (R)

PIT at CHC 2:20 PM
PIT: K Correia (R)
CHC: R Dempster (R)

CHW at CLE 3:05 PM
CHW: M Buehrle (L)
CLE: F Carmona (R)

BOS at TEX 4:05 PM
BOS: J Lester (L)
TEX: C Wilson (L)

ARI at COL 4:10 PM
ARI: I Kennedy (R)
COL: U Jimenez (R)

MIN at TOR 7:07 PM
MIN: C Pavano (R)
TOR: R Romero (L)

NYM at FLA 7:10 PM
NYM: M Pelfrey (R)
FLA: J Johnson (R)

BAL at TAM 7:10 PM
BAL: J Guthrie (R)
TAM: D Price (L)

LAA at KAN 8:10 PM
LAA: D Haren (R)
KAN: J Francis (L)

SEA at OAK 10:05 PM
SEA: F Hernandez (R)
OAK: T Cahill (R)

SFO at LAD 10:10 PM
SFO: J Sanchez (L)
LAD: C Billingsley (R)

ESPN previews The Masters

From ESPN -

Transcript of ESPN Masters Media Conference Call

ESPN golf analysts Andy North and Curtis Strange, host Mike Tirico and John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming acquisition and strategy, participated in a media conference call today to discuss ESPN’s multiplatform coverage of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Coverage begins with live SportsCenter reports from Augusta on Monday, April 4, and also will include 4.5 hours per day of first and second-round play on ESPN, ESPN HD and ESPN Deportes on Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, five days and 10 hours on the ESPN 3D Network, extensive coverage on and a special 43-hour Masters tribute on ESPN Classic. Live coverage of Wednesday’s Par 3 Tournament will air on ESPN, ESPN 3D and

A transcript of the conference call follows:

JOHN WILDHACK:  “We're excited about our fourth year. What's been enjoyable is every year we've worked with the folks at the Masters to bring something new and do something that's additive. The two things this year which stand out are the additional hour on Thursday and Friday on the front end. So as opposed to our live stroke coverage beginning at 4:00, we begin at 3:00 Eastern. I think that's really going to make a nice difference for viewers because it will give them, as opposed to maybe 30 minutes of a player on a certain day, if they have an early starting time, now we can get up to 90 minutes of that player. So I think it's going to make a big difference. And I think it's going to result in more coverage of Top 10 players combined over Thursday and Friday. So I think it's a noticeable difference, and we appreciate the Masters cooperation in that.  The other is all five days are in 3D. In 10 hours of coverage, it will be distributed on ESPN 3D. Last year we broke ground partnering with the Masters to produce coverage in 3D. This year we distribute it on ESPN 3D, and I think again, that commitment and embracing technology will just enhance the enjoyment for the fans of the Masters.  The other thing is our coverage in totality, while our focus here is obviously domestic, there will be 16 platforms, ESPN platforms, that will present Masters coverage over the next week in 88 countries. So this is a multiplatform, multi-territory partnership that we have with the Masters, and we very much look forward to a great week. We're pleased that we can bring these incremental advances to this year's tournament.”

Q - And Mike Tirico, you've been covering the Masters since '97 for ESPN. What are your thoughts going into next week? 

MIKE TIRICO:  “Thanks, I'll just be brief. I'm really excited about next week because quite simply, especially on Thursday and Friday, when you wake up and you know that the place of work for the day is Butler Cabin, that's a heck of a day if you love golf like all of us do. It's a day that we savor every year and cherish.  The par three’s become wonderful. Over the years seeing Arnold Palmer, Jack, and Gary Player together, who knows how many times we'll see that going forward. The memories have been terrific just in our first few years of doing this. We look forward to adding to that and working with Andy and Curtis as I have for the last 15 years here has been a treat. It's great to get our band back together for really just a special schedule of Masters and U.S. Open, and Open Championship with all of us together. Just one quick thought. As we start looking ahead here this week, you always try to figure out who is the favorite, what's going to happen. I think it's interesting. The last three Masters champions have not won since on the major tours, the PGA TOUR or the European Tour, Trevor Immelman, and Angel Cabrera, and Phil Mickelson. And if you look back at the last nine guys to win majors, the last nine players, really only Martin Kaymer over in Europe, since he won the PGA back last summer is the only one to win multiple events.  For some guys that's over two years. So what it tells you is forecasting or handicapping who is going to win these majors these days is as difficult as ever. It's so wide open. I just have a funny feeling that this may be the first time since '99 that we get a European champion at Augusta when Olazabal won it with such a prevalence of the Top 10 being half European players.  So I see that as some of the framework for us diving in with our SportsCenter coverage on Monday and when we get to the par three on Wednesday, and things start for real on Thursday morning.”

Q - Andy and Curtis, I wonder if each of you could address this question about your recollections of 1986, and just your thoughts on what happened there, and the significance of Jack Nicklaus' victory at age 46? 

ANDY NORTH:  “I think, first of all, having talked to Jack about this, he went in there, not playing particularly well. You know, actually I believe that week Barbara had put a clipping on his refrigerator of the house they were renting saying Jack couldn't possibly win here anymore.  And he played reasonably well throughout the early rounds, but nothing happened all that exciting. 
Then on Sunday, he made a putt for birdie at the 9th hole.  And that got stuff started rolling for him.  He made some great shots and made great putts.  He's told me since then that once he made the birdie at 9, he sort of got into the mode.  He forgot that he was 46 years old.  He just got locked into playing major championships and being the best player in the world, playing major championships. He played a spectacular back nine.  It was all finished off with the amazing putt he made for birdie at 17.  But I think he's also talked a lot about it was maybe one of his most favorite wins or one of his most favorite because Jackie was on the bag.  To be able to share that with your son is really emotional and a tremendous amount of fun.” 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “Well, yeah, I was like four groups in front of Jack, so I heard the roars on the front of the back side.  But I think what I remember the most is as a player if you're not winning, you finish the round, I don't care where it is on Sunday, and you escape as quickly as possible.  Well, that afternoon I, along with all of my colleagues, sat in that locker room in the player dining there with a lot of press and were riveted to the TV.  We didn't leave.  It was truly amazing.  I think the one other thing that Andy said was I guess the one last impression that I have in my mind is Jackie and Jack walking off the last green together arm in arm.  I think as a father we all can relate to that.  I just think at 47 or 46, that was unheard of back then.  I don't care who you were, Jack Nicklaus or anybody.  I think back then, 46 would be like 56 today, so it was truly phenomenal what he did. It didn't surprise anybody, I don't think, but it truly was phenomenal.”

Q - I have a couple questions, one past, one present.  Sticking with the historical theme, Gary Player won his first Masters and became the first non American 50 years ago to win there.  How momentous an occasion was that when you look back on it now? 

ANDY NORTH:  “I think people didn't know anything about Gary Player really until about that point in time.  As a young kid that had traveled all over the world to get to America to play, and then to have a foreign player be able to step up and win, not knowing that he was going to do it multiple times after that.  It really changed the way, I think, the world looked at golf in a lot of ways.  That was sort of the start of golf becoming much more global. Obviously, in today's world, and particularly this year's Masters, you'd be shocked if maybe a foreign player didn't win the Masters.  So it really was the start of a change in golf as we know it.”
CURTIS STRANGE: “That was way before my time (laughing), and I mean that jokingly and seriously.  Because when I came up, it was all part of the structure and the fabric of the game.  So I was in my best playing days against five of the best players in the world, and they were all European. So it was all part of my make up, so it wasn't any big deal to me.  But I do know, knowing some of the history of the game and loving the history as we all do as players, I do understand the significance of Gary doing that.  So he certainly has been a great leader of the game for many, many years.”

Q - Andy and Curtis, real quickly, do you guys have a couple quick thoughts on the field, maybe non traditional thoughts.  We know about Phil, we know Tiger's story, Lee Westwood, et cetera.  Is there anything that jumps out at you guys? 

ANDY NORTH:  “If I jump in there first, I think you have three distinct groups of players this year that you need to pay attention to.  First of all, it's this high ranked group of European players that are terrific players.  If you look at them as a group, they haven't had terrific success at Augusta yet. Lee Westwood contended the last couple of years, but other than that, the other guys haven't been there.  But you have to look at that group of players that are all top ranked, really quality players that are looking for a breakthrough there, and there are probably five or six of those guys. 
Then you've got the two guys that when they walk, they drive through that gate, it doesn't matter how they're playing, their games become very, very good, and that is Tiger and Phil.  I think you'd be shocked if one of those two guys didn't play exceptionally well. There is something about the place.  They both love it so much.  There is some freedom in their game there that maybe you don't see some other places.  So I think you've got the Europeans to look at.  Then you've got the two old veterans that know how to play the golf course. Then you've got this group of young American players that have played exceptionally well this year early on.  The Nick Watney's of the world, the Dustin Johnson's of the world.  Those are two guys and there are another five or six of them.  But those two particularly are long, they have played exceptionally well this year, and this is the type of golf course that maybe they can breakthrough on because of the length and the fact that they're playing so well.”

CURTIS STRANGE:  “Let me add that a couple of those players, Mark Wilson.  Gary Woodland is incredibly long, young, inexperienced, but incredibly long.  Jonathan Vegas, the same thing. 
Bubba Watson, don't forget about him, because he's matured more in the last year and a half than anybody else on the planet.  He's literally a contender every time he tees it up.  But Andy said it best.  I think when you summarize what Andy just said, I think the field is very, very even.  The only thing I could say could have an advantage is Tiger and Phil, as Andy said, the light switch is switched on when they come through the gate Monday.  That means a great deal. 
When you're so successful as a player, as they are, Thursdays and Fridays sometimes are rather boring.  You've got to do your due diligence early in the week.  But Saturday and Sunday is what you play for, but not at Augusta.  They come and they're ready to go from the first day on Monday.  If anybody has an advantage, it would be those two.  But I think the field is so wide open, and so evenly matched this year.  It would be hard to pick anybody in the top 50 who didn't have a chance.”

Q. - Andy once told me he was far more nervous in the par three contest than he was on the first tee Thursday because those crowds are packed around those tiny greens so much, he knew he was going to beam a couple people that day.  Could you both talk about how seriously you approached or how you approached the par three contest in the old days?  Did you play it every year?  And talk about its recent evolution since TV, it's because the best kept secret of Augusta, now it's an incredible TV show on Wednesday.  Can you talk about the evolution of that? 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “Let me answer the latter first for you.  It has become a spectacular show.  It's something that, you're right, the general public didn't have any idea other than true golf fans that it existed.  Now by putting it on TV it has become very, very popular. That has changed a lot over the years.  We now have all the youngsters and daughters and sons caddying for these players.  In our day, that didn't happen. Now to answer your first question on did we play or not.  My main concern there was being rested and not to overdo it during the week.  I played the par three some, but I didn't play every year, and I didn't play the years I felt like I had a chance to win because I thought it was more important to play 18 holes.  Now I don't know if all of these players play 18 holes or not, probably not on Wednesday.  But I played 18 holes.  I'd hit a few balls.  I'd spend a long time on the putting green, and then I'd go home.  That was my own practice schedule.  I think today's time with the kids you're almost pressured into playing.  How can you get out of the house and home if you don't say I'm going to play in the par three, and I'm going to caddie for you, dad?  Anyway, it's a great show.  It's a lot of fun for the viewers as well.”
ANDY NORTH:  “Personally, I enjoyed playing the par three.  I have told Gary (Van Sickle) that story of the very first time I played there, they had a different first and second hole.  The first hole was about 65 yards and they had a path for you to walk down through to get to the green.  I was scared to death.  Honestly, I was afraid I was going to kill somebody because the greens are about 20 feet by 20 feet.  Even though you're only hitting a 75 yard shot, I was nervous. 
But the thing I enjoyed so much about the par three courses is the greens over there are the same speed as on the big course.  And I liked the idea of going over there on Wednesday afternoon and trying to make a 10 footer, standing over a 4 footer for par, and really grinding on it to knock it in.  I thought that was really important.  For me, personally, it freed me little bit and made me feel like I competed a little bit this week, and now I'm ready to go on Thursday. 
On the other side of that, a lot has been written about the curse.  There is one year I made four or five birdies early on, and I put three balls in the lake on six on purpose.”

Q.- I also wanted to ask you, the crystal you've collected over the years, where is that right this second? 

ANDY NORTH:  “We have a couple of china cabinet pieces of furniture that has just about all the Augusta glass we got.  I know there are some times that the crystal for eagles was always a big part of it.  Unfortunately, I played a lot of Sundays early on where it didn't make a difference what you're doing. But you'd look over at the ropes and see your wife telling you hit that driver off the fairway at 15 because you needed a chance to try to get some crystal.  And sometimes you'd try stupid shots like that when it really didn't mean anything. 

CURTIS STRANGE:  We have a display just in some cabinets, background of cabinets around the kitchen and things like that.  So it's very, very nice what they do.  It's always been a great side benefit for hitting a couple of good shots.“

Q.- So you're not drinking your orange juice for breakfast out of that stuff any time ever, huh? 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “No, no, no.”

Q. - I guess somebody has to ask the obligatory Tiger Woods question.  From what you've seen from the first three or four events this year, what are you seeing in kind of the evolution of his swing?  Do you think it's in position to make some hay at Augusta? 

ANDY NORTH:  “I think first of all he's been very inconsistent.  We've seen him play a handful of good rounds and a handful of bad rounds.  But I think it changes when he gets to Augusta because he feels so comfortable there. As far as the golf swing, from what I've seen, and I haven't been up there close and watch him hit balls, just a few shots on TV.  He's working on some things that will be positive in his golf swing.  I like that he's starting to get his left arm in a little different position than he's had it in. I know he's hit some horrible shots.  When you're on the golf course and making major swing changes, you're going to hit some goofy looking shots and he's hit some of those. I think Tiger's close enough that all it takes is having a good feeling about Augusta.  Having some confidence there.  If he were to go out and shoot 69 the first day or maybe even 70, I would think that would be the round that would give him a lot of confidence.  Once he starts playing well, I think you'll see him play well a lot.”
CURTIS STRANGE:  “I think that he's in transition right now.  Trying to incorporate these new moves into his own body and his swing.  But let's be honest, he's going to pop out of this.  Once he gets more comfortable on the golf course and in his life, I think he's going to pop out of this, and it could happen next week.  We just don't know yet. He hasn't been playing very well.  He doesn't have my vote as the clear favorite next week.  Simply because the proof is in the pudding in the way he's been playing.  But he's going to pop out of this.  When he does, things will seem like old times.”

Q. - Of the other two groups, kind of the three groups that were mentioned earlier, the Europeans and the young Americans, any hunches as to which might be more likely than the other to rise up next week? 

ANDY NORTH:  “I think if you look based on world rankings, the group of European players are really, really good players.  They've all got a lot of confidence right now.  But length has such a huge impact of playing well at Augusta.  So many of these players we've talked about in those two groups really don't have good track records there.  That's important. Experience around Augusta National is very important.  Understanding pins to shoot at, pins not to shoot at.  That stuff that sometimes it takes you a while to learn.  If you go back and look at how soon a player won at Augusta.  Very seldom does it happen in the first two or three years.  Usually the players get into their fourth, fifth, sixth year before they figure the golf course out. But pure length really makes a big difference.  And some of these younger players now, not just young Americans, but you throw a Rory McIlroy in there, the guy hits it a mile.  These guys hit it so far could something happen like Tiger in 1997 again?  It might.  Some of these guys are that long that if you got on a great driving week, you have a great opportunity to hit a sure shot on these greens and make a lot of birdies.” 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “To follow up on what Andy was saying, nobody is a top player that doesn't launch it now.  Maybe Mark Wilson might be a little bit of an oddity, that he's not a launcher of the golf ball. But to answer your question, without a doubt, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood have more experience and are the cream right now over our young guys.  That's just because of Kaymer's record in the last two or three years and number one in the world. Lee Westwood has been certainly a consistent player and just hasn't come through.  That shows I would think he's extremely hungry.  I think right now the three Europeans have an edge over our young guys.”

Q. - We have Virginia Commonwealth in the basketball final four.  Do either of you have sort of a one sweeper, one potential Virginia Commonwealth in this tournament?

CURTIS STRANGE:  “I'm going with this.  I've had this guy on my mind for a couple of weeks now, and he actually played pretty doggone well last week, Mark Leishman.  Is he even in the field.  That's what I want to know.”
ANDY NORTH:  “That would be important to know first.  I just think the world of this guy's golf swing.  I don't know.”  (Leishman is not in the Masters field yet)

CURTIS STRANGE:  “To answer your question of a VCU type, I don't think VCU has a chance to win Augusta National, to answer your question.  Oh, a guy, a rookie or high ranked player that just gets in the Masters, that would be an interesting comparison how big an upset that would be to win the Masters and VCU to win the NCAA. I honestly don't think either one is going to happen, but it would be comparable.”
ANDY NORTH:  “So much is experience around Augusta, which we both talked about.  For a player in his first year or even second year going in there, there is so much going on around you.  It is so difficult to really understand the magnitude of the event. Going back to my first year at Augusta.  I opened up a 66 on Thursday.  I walked off the 18th green that day and thought, well, shoot, I'll win 6 or 7 of these things.  I love this golf course.  It was perfect. It was a day I had the ball below the hole on every hole by mistake sometimes you didn't have a clue what you were doing.  The second round on Friday, I played almost the same way and had it on the wrong side of the hole every single hole.  Spun it off the bank on the 15th green and shot 81, and literally didn't feel like I hit the ball much differently.  And that is the difference on that golf course understanding how to get it around.  That is why it's almost impossible for a VCU to win.”

Q. - Those two par 5s on the back nine are crucial on Sunday, which you kind of learned the hard way in '85.  I'm wondering, could you sort of walk us through what happened and what you were thinking at that point?  Then after if you would give me the recap on whether that helped you win the U.S. Opens a couple of years later?  Whether that hardened you up or smartened you up or whatever it did? 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “So, I was playing very well.  I did exactly what Andy just said.  I shot 80 the first round, was really, really playing well.  Made a couple bogeys, tried to get aggressive, tried to make birdies.  Short sided myself six or seven times, got frustrated and shot 80 and probably lost interest.  The next day I just happened to get something going when there wasn't much pressure.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I came to 13 with a couple of shot lead at that time. Maybe, two, I believe, and I felt like I drove it perfectly and felt like I hit it without the green, because I felt like I had to keep making birdies because Langer was playing well in front of me.  I hit it in the creek and made six.  Then 15 was I hit a real good drive, and I hit a good 4 iron and it wasn't enough club.  So as happens at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon. We talk about Jack Nicklaus and his backside in 1986, and the flip side of that coin was me and my one chance to win Augusta.  So there is a lot of excitement, and a lot of just heartache and disappointment. 
I played, I thought, pretty well on Sunday.  Just didn't play well enough on those key holes.  You're so right in that they're so key.  You have to play them well to win there.  Not only on Sunday afternoon, but also on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Because you just felt like especially for an average length player like I was, I had to take advantage of the par 5s.  And I made two bogeys and you just can't win there Sunday afternoon making two bogeys. What did that do for me?  I don't know.  It probably hardened me, and you get a little taste of playing well in a major.  I think it makes you hungry.  It's just the next step in the maturity of a player, I think.  It hardens you to where you don't lose your concentration, or the next time you know how your body's going to react to that type of pressure.  I'd won a few tournaments at that point, and it was nothing like the pressure on the backside of Augusta.  Nothing like it in this world other than the three other major championships.  I'm not going to say it was good for me, but I think I learned my lesson as well.”

Q. - We talked about Tiger, but what about Phil the defending champ coming in here?  Also struggling with his game a little bit.  You don't see the two of them as the two favorites? 

ANDY NORTH:  “I think that Phil at Augusta National looks like a totally different player than he does at any other major championship.  I don't know if it's just a confidence factor, or he has so much confidence in his short game or whatever.  But his swing looks so much freer when he's at Augusta National than any other place he plays. Yes, he hasn't played very well yet, but I really don't think that's that big of a deal.  I understand he was in there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday working.  He's going to play Houston this week.  If he makes the cut or not, I don't think it's really that important to him. As a player, you always want to play well going in there.  But I think he has such a good feeling and so much of what he's doing right now is preparing for that tournament.  I think that's something that people might not understand.  There were tournaments two and three weeks before the Masters that I would start practicing the shots that I want to hit there.  You try to hit a really high 3 iron, anticipating a second shot at the par 5 15th, that type of shot. Sometimes you might play that shot when it isn't the smartest shot to play.  It affects your scoring in that tournament a week or two beforehand.  But I do think he's got to be a favorite there.  He's played so well there lately.  He has such great feelings for that golf course, and the golf course fits perfectly to his length and everything that he likes to do there.  So, even though he and Tiger haven't played exceptionally well, I still think both of them will be there Sunday afternoon.” 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “Phil prepares differently than anybody I've ever known.  It is about a certain goal out there.  I would think he'd plan this week in Houston to make sure he's competitively sharp for Houston. And he goes in there early.  And when he goes into Augusta National for two or three days, he really works at it.  He doesn't just play with the members and drink a couple beers afterwards. That is something that is the new age preparing for Augusta and some of these majors that we never did.  We never went into Augusta early.  The only guy that I know of in my day before was Jack Nicklaus. A lot of these guys go in a couple of weeks before for a day or two just to familiarize themselves with the place, to where they get there Monday and Tuesday of tournament week they know what to expect.  I think it's a hell of an idea.  I wish we had done it.  But I think Phil will be fine.  I really do.  He's shown that he doesn't have to be on top of his game to play well there in the past.”

Q.- We're talking about a rookie's chances to win here.  I believe there are 11 players in this field that have qualified by winning a Tour in the last year.  Other than the distractions that you mentioned, what is it specifically that makes it so difficult for a rookie or first year player to contend at Augusta? 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “For me, I think it's different for everybody.  But for    I was first year as an amateur, so forget about that.  For first year as a professional who has played well on Tour, that's what we'll talk about.  It's the excitement.  You've grown up thinking about it.  You have to calm yourself down.  You have to make sure you don't overdo in your two to three practice rounds where you'll be almost tired by the weekend. You have to prepare that way as well.  And I think most of these guys understand that, but there is such an excitement every day to go out and play and practice and want to do too much.  The other thing is mainly the golf course.  It is a very, very much a local knowledge golf course.  It's not so much where to hit it as where to miss it.  You have to know how to go at certain hole locations, when to go, when not to go. When you're playing perfect golf, you get away with some of those aggressive plays.  But when you're not playing perfect and you make some of those plays, you won't win there, because you'll hit it to where you cannot get it up and down.  I can go through all 18 holes and tell you there are certain places that you cannot afford to hit it if you're going to win the golf tournament.” 

ANDY NORTH:  “I think you are going to, no matter how well you play there, you're going to put yourself in a position that you'll have no idea how fast a putt's going to be.  Or you'll have no idea what the chip shot's going to do until you've done that and you've had that particular putter, that particular chip a bunch of times.  Because of that, you're going to make more mistakes having not gotten around that golf course. I think you so look forward to playing at Augusta.  When you finally … I know when I first qualified for my first time, I thought about that for nine months before I got there.  So you put so much pressure on yourself to play well, and you're so excited about it that you really don't have much of a chance before it even starts.  Even though you're playing pretty well. I know there were some times when I went there and I felt like I was swinging beautifully, and sometimes that can be the worst thing that can happen to you there.  Because if you think you're hitting it so well, now you start shooting at pins you shouldn't shoot at.  That's when it kills you. I like going in there playing reasonably okay, but not great, where you still had a little bit of fear in there and you maybe went to a little wider part of the green or shot more toward the middle part of the green.  I think that is the circumstance you play well there.  But it takes years to figure that out.  You can't do that your first time around.”
CURTIS STRANGE:  “The frustrating part of all of that is that it looks so simple.  When you go in there the first day or two and see it for the first time, the simplicity of Augusta National is I think what lulls you to sleep.”
ANDY NORTH:  “I agree.  It seems like the speeds get more on Thursday than on Tuesday.  And the pins you've been practicing to are maybe a little flatter area than they actually got placed on a Thursday or Friday. It really blows you away as a player how much the golf course can change from a Monday Tuesday, to a Thursday Friday as far as speed and firmness.”

Q. - In your times playing there, can you talk about something that you enjoyed just by going there that had nothing to do with actually playing the course or a tradition or some sort of perk or privilege that you guys got there? 

CURTIS STRANGE:  “I just think that when I went there, from day one to the last time I ever played there was I got to go to a place that we play every year since the inception of the game.  The ghost    the ghost is the wrong word, but the memory of Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, and some of the old past champions that would come back and play practice rounds and most of them would play the tournament.  The Sneads and Nelsons would hang out on the practice tee with you, hit balls with you, trash talk with you.  That's what made it more special than other majors.  They hang out, they enjoy hanging out, and it shows.  That's what made it special to me.”
ANDY NORTH:  “I think that's something that happens there that doesn't happen in the other championship events you're playing.  And that is the gallery is so knowledgeable.  They so understand the history of the event.  They are so well behaved. They are dressed exceptionally well for golf tournaments.  I mean, there is that part of it that really makes it special.  It means so much to the players to be there and having a chance to play, but when you look at the folks who have paid their money to come in and watch, they care about it as much as the players do.  And that doesn't happen at many events you play in.  There is such respect for the game, and respect for the player who have earned the right to be there. I talked about my first year and how I played really well on Thursday and terrible on Friday.  Walking up the last hole, I was so embarrassed the score I was shooting.  Yet people still clapped for you.  I mean, that is something you don't get any other place. I think that just adds to the history and the tradition that we all loved about it.”   

MLB on TBS begins with Red Sox/Rangers

From TBS Sports -

“Sunday MLB on TBS” Returns with a Showdown Between the Defending American League Champion Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox

“Sunday MLB on TBS” returns on April 3 with a match-up featuring Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and the new-look Boston Red Sox visiting 2010 A.L. MVP Josh Hamilton and the defending A.L. Champion Texas Rangers at 2 p.m. (ET). Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start for the Red Sox against the Rangers’ probable starter Matt Harrison. Calling the action will be Ernie Johnson (play-by-play) and Dennis Eckersley (analyst).

“Sunday MLB on TBS” includes match-ups on TBS every Sunday afternoon throughout the regular season. The network also will exclusively televise the MLB All-Star Selection Show on Sunday, July 3. Additionally, beginning in October TBS will once again provide exclusive coverage of the four Division Series and the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

TBS has served as the exclusive home of Major League Baseball’s Division Series (DS) and one League Championship Series (LCS) since 2007, has broadcasted MLB games for more than 30 years and was home of Atlanta Braves from 1977-2007.

Sun, April 3
2 p.m. (ET)
Boston Red Sox @ Texas Rangers
Ernie Johnson (play-by-play) and Dennis Eckersley (analyst)

Sun., April 10
1:30 p.m. (ET)
Philadelphia Phillies @ Atlanta Braves
Ernie Johnson (play-by-play), Ron Darling (analyst) and John Smoltz (analyst)

Sun., April 17
1:30 p.m. (ET)
Toronto Blue Jays @ Boston Red Sox
Announcers: Brian Anderson (play-by-play) and Dennis Eckersley (analyst)

ESPN's all over Spring College Football

From ESPN -

ESPN Kicks Off Spring Football with Games & Return of Daily College Football Live

14 Spring Games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU &; Month-long Bus Tour; College Football Live Returns April 4 with Special Urban Meyer “Spring Football 101” Series
ESPN will kick off an extensive schedule of spring college football programming, highlighted by spring practice telecasts of 14 teams and the return of the daily College Football Live with in-depth analysis, news, features, interviews and discussion.
Spring games will be presented across ESPN (three games), ESPN2 (one), ESPNU (one) and (all 14, nine exclusively) beginning with Virginia on Saturday, April 2, at 2:30 p.m. ET on and Texas on Sunday, April 3, at 3 p.m. on ESPN. Joe Tessitore, Chris Spielman and Urban Meyer will work the Texas game, marking the first game Meyer will work for ESPN. Spring game telecasts will conclude with Oregon on ESPN2 on Saturday, April 30, at 4 p.m.
As part of its spring football coverage, ESPN’s DIRECTV satellite bus will originate from numerous campuses throughout April to provide interviews with coaches and players across multiple outlets, highlighted by College Football Live, SportsCenter and ESPNU programs. Scheduled stops include Texas (April 5), Oklahoma (April 6), TCU (April 7), LSU (April 8-9), Florida (April 11), Florida State (April 12), Alabama (April 13), Arkansas (April 15-16), Notre Dame (April 18), Ohio State (April 19), Michigan (April 20), Wisconsin (April 21), Nebraska (April 22), USC (April 25), UCLA (April 26), Stanford (April 27) and Oregon (April 29-30). Schedule is subject to change.
Spring Game Schedule
Date Time (ET) Team Network
Sat, April 2 2:30 p.m. Virginia
John Sadak & Danny Kanell
Sun, April 3 3 p.m. Texas
Joe Tessitore, Chris Spielman & Urban Meyer
Sat, April 9 1 p.m. South Carolina
Bill Rosinski & Randy Shannon
4 p.m. LSU
Chris Fowler, Todd Blackledge & Jenn Brown
4 p.m. Clemson *
5 p.m. Stanford
6 p.m. Mississippi State *
Sat, April 16 3 p.m. Arkansas
Chris Fowler, Matt Millen & Mark May
3 p.m. Alabama
Dave Neal, Andre Ware & Tom Luginbill
3 p.m. Auburn *
4 p.m. Florida State
Bill Rosinski & Dan Hawkins
Sun, April 17 5 p.m. Miami **
Mon, April 18 5 p.m. Ole Miss **
Sat, April 30 4 p.m. Oregon
Brent Musburger & Urban Meyer
* Subject to blackout
** Subject to blackout; one-day delay
College Football Live
ESPN’s College Football Live will return Monday, April 4 and be aired generally at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN through the conclusion of the BCS National Championship Game on ESPN. Chris Fowler will host the first three days of programs with various top analysts including Desmond Howard, Jesse Palmer, Urban Meyer, Andre Ware and more. The College Football Live schedule will include telecasts at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN Monday, April 4 and Tuesday, April 5; ESPN2 Wednesday, April 6; and ESPNU Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8. The College Football Live Spring Practice Special will air Saturday, April 9, at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
The show will debut with a week-long “Spring Football 101” series by Meyer. The series will give viewers a unique look at how coaches prepare their teams during spring camp in hopes of setting the tone for the regular season. The schedule:
  • Monday, April 4 - Texas: Coach Mack Brown discusses the offseason changes and emotional introduction of the coaching staff to the players.
  • Tuesday, April 5 - Notre Dame: Coach Brian Kelly implements competitive drills for playmakers and utilizes a helmet camera in practice for his quarterbacks.
  • Wednesday, April 6 – Oregon: Coach Chip Kelly breaks down film and explains the Ducks’ spread offense.
  • Thursday, April 7 – Utah: Meyer, who coached Utah (2003-04), returns to the campus for the first time in six years to discuss the Utes’ move to the Pac-12 with his old defensive coordinator and current head coach Kyle Whittingham.
  • Friday, April 8 – Michigan: New head coach Brady Hoke’s hands-on approach stresses fundamentals as he tries to improve the team’s 110th ranked defense.
Throughout the offseason, College Football Live will offer:
  • A series of roundtable discussions with analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Palmer, Craig James, Meyer and Robert Smith, including an in-depth look of the top 20 pre-season teams over the month of May with one team discussed each day.
  • Special week-long themed topics leading up the beginning of the season. Themes include (specific weeks and additional themes will be announced):
  • College Football Live Top 25: The show will reveal its pre-season top 25 with a discussion on each team’s prospects heading into the 2011 campaign. Five teams will be unveiled each show.
  • Top 10 games of 2010: A look back at the 10 best games of the 2010 season.
  • Collision Course: A discussion about 10 highly anticipated games in 2011.
  • Who’s next?: A preview of the next top players who are expected to break out in 2011.
  • Big cleats to fill: A discussion on who will replace departing top players from teams across the sport.
  • Immediate impact: A look at incoming players who could have an immediate impact with their team.
  • Conference storylines: A discussion on storylines for each conference heading into the season.

NBC & Versus all over NHL final week

From NBC Sports -


Current Eastern Conference No. 1 Flyers host No. 7 Rangers in Possible First-Round Playoff Preview This Sunday on NBC

Blackhawks & Red Wings close out VERSUS & NBC regular seasons with home-and-home series

NEW YORK – March 31, 2011
– The NBC Sports Group will conclude its 2010-11 NHL regular-season coverage (90 games) with eight games in eight days on both NBC and VERSUS, beginning this Sunday.

The Eastern Conference’s current No. 1 seed, the Philadelphia Flyers (102 points), host the No. 7 (tie) New York Rangers (87) at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC’s “NHL Game of the Week.” Both teams are fighting for playoff positioning with the Rangers currently in a precarious tie with Buffalo for the seventh playoff spot in the conference and the Flyers looking to hold on to home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. will also stream the game live.

Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass analyst) will call the action on NBC. McGuire will pull double duty as he joins NBC Sports’ analyst Mike Milbury in the studio.

VERSUS will broadcast six games in five days beginning with a doubleheader on Monday (Bruins at Rangers; Kings at Sharks) featuring three teams jockeying for playoff positioning and the Rangers fighting for their postseason lives. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, also fighting for their playoff lives as the current No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, and Red Wings, currently No. 2 in the West, conclude both the VERSUS and NBC regular seasons with a home-and-home series on Friday, April 8 and Sunday, April 10, respectively.


N.Y. Rangers @ Philadelphia 12:30 p.m. NBC

Boston @ N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m. VERSUS
Los Angeles @ San Jose 10 p.m. VERSUS

New Jersey @ Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m. VERSUS

St. Louis @ Chicago 8 p.m. VERSUS

Atlanta @ N.Y. Rangers 7 p.m. VERSUS

Friday (4/8)
Chicago @ Detroit 7:30 p.m. VERSUS

Sunday (4/10)
Detroit @ Chicago 12:30 p.m. NBC

NBCSPORTS.COM: will stream live all “NHL Game of the Week” broadcasts this season. It will again offer “Star-cam,” which follows a marquee player in the game. Following the game, will present bonus material, including “Star-cam” and “Net-cam” and bonus analysis from NBC Sports commentators. The NHL on NBC also has its own Facebook page. For NHL news and behind-the-scenes videos and photos, click here

FLEX SCHEDULING & CONSISTENT 12:30 PM ET START TIME: Again this year, “Game of the Week” broadcasts will consistently start at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sundays.

For the fourth straight season, the NHL and NBC Sports will utilize flex scheduling and will be able to select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, the NHL and NBC Sports will announce one of those games as the "Game of the Week" to be broadcast during the NBC Sports window. The other games will remain available to the teams’ regional carrier but will not be televised during NBC Sports' broadcast window.

NCAA Tournament Final Four on CBS & Turner

From CBS & Turner Sports -


Connecticut, Kentucky, Butler and VCU Vie for College Basketball's National Championship

Connecticut, Kentucky, Butler and VCU are on the road to Houston as CBS Sports and Turner Sports provide exclusive coverage of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and Final Four. For the 30th consecutive year, CBS Sports will broadcast live the national semi-final games on Saturday, April 2 (6:00-11:00 PM, ET) and the National Championship game on Monday, April 4 (9:00 PM, ET-conclusion) from Reliant Stadium.

Saturday’s Final Four features Butler versus VCU, with tip-off scheduled for 6:09 PM, ET. Forty minutes after the game concludes, Connecticut takes on Kentucky to determine the final participant in Monday night’s Championship game. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr call the games along with Tracy Wolfson serving as reporter. Nantz will be covering his 26th Final Four and National Championship, Kellogg will be working his third, and Kerr joins Nantz and Kellogg to call his first Final Four and National Championship.

On Saturday, April 2 (3:00-4:00 PM, ET) “Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off” starts the day’s coverage on truTV. Leading in to the semi-final games, THE FINAL FOUR SHOW (4:00-6:00 PM, ET) on CBS with Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Seth Davis features tournament highlights, analysis of the four participating teams and interviews with coaches and players. Included in the broadcast are features on:

* Matt Howard, Butler
- Senior forward Matt Howard embodies Butler basketball. The three-time Academic All-America has been a leader in the Bulldogs Final Four runs the past two years. The values he exhibits on the court and within the Butler community were instilled in him growing up in rural Connersville, Indiana as the eighth of 10 children. The Final Four Show visits with Howard and those closest to him as he prepares for the culmination of his storied collegiate career. Alanna Campbell produces.

* Kemba Walker, Connecticut - A first-team All-America and native of the Bronx, N.Y., Kemba Walker is the heart and soul of the Connecticut Huskies. Walker has led his team to nine straight wins since the end of the regular-season, including five wins in five days to capture the Big East Conference Championship. The Final Four Show sits down with Walker and his mother, Andrea, and learns something special about this NCAA Tournament star. Jeff St. Arromand produces.

* Kentucky - It was only two years ago that Kentucky didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, and after reaching the Elite Eight last season, five Kentucky players left for the NBA, all first-round picks. Other teams might have had to rebuild, but head coach John Calipari has the Wildcats in their first Final Four since 1998, thanks to the leadership of senior Josh Harrelson, juniors DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller, along with a talented trio of freshmen. Sarah Rinaldi produces.

* VCU Confidential - From the first-ever FIRST FOUR to their first-ever Final Four, the VCU Rams are enjoying a historic tournament run. The feature captures Head Coach Shaka Smart and his team behind-the-scenes as the Rams prepare to take on Butler, and a chance to advance to the National Championship game.

* A Coaching Bond - While working together at Florida to build the Gators’ program into a national powerhouse, Head Coach Billy Donovan and his assistants, John Pelphrey and Anthony Grant, forged a bond as colleagues and close friends. Their relationship grew stronger as they supported each other while coping with shared grief through a series of personal tragedies. Sarah Rinaldi produces.

* John Wooden - Known as “The Wizard of Westwood,” legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden stands as one of the most revered and successful college basketball coaches in history. Wooden led his Bruins to 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years. Wooden was more than just a coach, as he projected a unique vision and perspective on life that transcended sports. As a special tribute to Coach Wooden, who passed away last June, this feature looks back at some of the timeless inspirational wisdom he passed on. Charlie Bloom produces.

* David Letterman Breaks down the Bracket with Bill Raftery - As anyone who filled out a bracket this tournament knows, there probably weren’t too many people who successfully chose the Final Four teams. David Letterman puts his unique spin on March Madness, and is joined by CBS Sports’ Bill Raftery. Deb Gelman produces.

Bob Dekas, coordinating producer of CBS Sports' NCAA basketball coverage, produces the 2011 Final Four and Bob Fishman directs. Eric Mann produces the pre- and post-game and halftime programs, and Bob Matina directs. Harold Bryant is Vice President, Production, CBS Sports.

* * * * *


Sat., April 2 truTV 
3:00-4:00 PM Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off

CBS 4:00-6:00 PM 

CBS 6:00-11:00 PM 
Reliant Stadium - Houston, Texas

truTV 11:30 PM-12:30 AM 
Inside March Madness presented by Buick

Mon., April 4 truTV 
8:00-9:00 PM Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off

CBS 9:00-11:30 PM 
Reliant Stadium - Houston, Texas

truTV 12:00-1:00 AM
Inside March Madness presented by Buick

ESPN puts Masters Everywhere!

From ESPN -

ESPN’s Masters Coverage Expands Across Multimedia Platforms
Added Hour for First Two Rounds; 5 Days Coverage on ESPN 3D; SportsCenter Reports Start Monday

In its fourth year of live coverage of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, ESPN will have an added hour of live Tournament play from the first two rounds, five days of action on the ESPN 3D Network and the traditional Par 3 Contest the day preceding the Tournament. Expansive news, information and analysis will appear on a variety of ESPN platforms in the U.S. and around the world, including television, radio, online and mobile devices.

ESPN and ESPN HD will air 4.5 hours of live first and second round action on Thursday, April 7, and Friday, April 8, from 3-7:30 p.m. ET, an additional hour each day from the previous three years. An edited encore presentation will air in prime time each night from 8-11 p.m. ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language U.S. sports network, also will televise the first and second rounds live from 3-7:30 p.m. and the ESPN 3D Network will air two hours of live play from the first two rounds each day starting at 5:30 p.m.

Prior to the live television windows Thursday and Friday, SportsCenter will air updates every 30 minutes beginning at 9 a.m. daily.

Mike Tirico will serve as host of ESPN’s Thursday and Friday telecasts and will conduct player interviews from Augusta National’s iconic Butler Cabin. Curtis Strange will provide analysis. CBS will again produce the telecasts, with announcer contributions from Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, Peter Oosterhuis, Verne Lundquist, David Feherty, Bill Macatee, Peter Kostis and Ian-Baker Finch. Paco Aleman and Silvia Bertolaccini will have the call on ESPN Deportes with John Sutcliffe serving as the on course reporter.

Live reports on SportsCenter from Augusta National Golf Club begin Monday, April 4, in the afternoon and continue through Sunday. Media Day is Tuesday, April 5, and SportsCenter will air the news conferences of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Tirico and Scott Van Pelt will host SportsCenter reports from the Masters and will be joined by Strange, Rinaldi and lead SportsCenter analyst Andy North.  Van Pelt also will host with North a special one-hour preview SportsCenter at the Masters Wednesday, April 8, at 5 p.m., with Rinaldi reporting, following the Par 3 Contest telecast. ESPN the Magazine’s Rick Reilly will provide essays for SportsCenter Wednesday through Sunday.

Masters Par 3 Contest
The Masters Par 3 Contest will air live Wednesday, April 6, from 3-5 p.m. on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN 3D and The Par 3 Contest is the traditional event held each Wednesday prior to the Masters that includes Tournament participants, non-competing past champions and honorary invitees in a fun, family atmosphere. The event, which began in 1960, was first televised by ESPN in 2008. On ESPN, Tirico, North and Strange will be joined by Tom Rinaldi, who will conduct interviews on the putting green, and on-ground reporter Kostis. Host Terry Gannon and analyst Paul Azinger will have the call on ESPN 3D.

ESPN 3D Network
ESPN’s television coverage will include 10 hours of programming in 3D on the ESPN 3D network, including two hours from all four rounds of Tournament action. Thursday and Friday’s telecasts begin at 5:30 p.m. while the weekend telecasts begin at 5 p.m. Two hours of coverage of Wednesday’s Par 3 Contest airs at 3 p.m. Last April, the Masters became the first major sporting event produced and broadcast live in 3D internationally on television and the Internet. Gannon will host ESPN 3D’s telecasts with analyst Azinger Wednesday through Friday, while Tirico, Azinger and Strange will have the call Saturday and Sunday.

The Masters Online
In addition to television coverage, there will be extensive Masters Tournament offerings for fans online across and

·         Daily diary from first-time Masters competitor Jhonny Vegas from Wednesday-Sunday (also on
·         Columns/articles by national columnist Gene Wojciechowski and golf writer Bob Harig.
·         “Digital Drive,” exclusive video with host Rick Reilly and nightly analysis from Wojciechowski and Harig. 
·         The Top 25 Masters Moments, a series of blogs leading up to the Masters.
·         Extensive highlights during tournament week.
·         Live leaderboard link from
·         Features/columns on Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus.
·         CoverItLive on Thursday/Friday with comments and insights from ESPN’s golf team covering the Masters from Augusta and beyond.
·         CoverItLive with golf blogger Jason Sobel on Saturday/Sunday.
·         Live audio updates and interviews on
·         Masters Best Ball Challenge (fantasy game)
  • Alternate feed coverage links to “Amen Corner,” “Two Featured Groups,” and “Hole Nos. 15 and 16” on
All Masters programming on ESPN will also be available online through, which is accessible to fans who receive their video service from an affiliated provider.

ESPN International
This year 88 countries will see the Masters on ESPN platforms. Fans in these countries can follow the Masters on ESPN television, online, mobile and broadband platforms. The Masters is available in:
·         Asia (17.5 hours to 16 countries and 174 million households via ESS),
·         Latin America and the Caribbean (all four rounds and the Par 3 Contest coverage to 51 Countries and over 32 million households)
·         In Canada, TSN will air the first two rounds of the Masters live with same day re-airs in primetime of the final rounds. RDS is airing all four rounds of the Masters live in French. TSN reaches 13.6 million households.
·         North Africa and the Middle East (all four rounds to 21 countries and 600,000 households)
·         The Par 3 Contest, all four rounds of the Masters and exclusive “Amen Corner,” “Featured Group,” and “Hole Nos. 15 and 16,” will be live on ESPN Play in Latin America. 

ESPN Radio
ESPN Radio SportsCenter reporter Dan Davis will present updates from Augusta National Golf Club throughout the Masters Tournament Wednesday-Sunday, April 6-10. Davis will provide live hourly updates (4:40.-9:40 p.m.) during the first two rounds, and twice-an-hour reports at 20 and 40 minutes past the hour (1:20-8:40 p.m.) throughout the weekend’s SportsCenter Saturday and SportsCenter Sunday programs as well as during ESPN Radio’s NBA and MLB studio shows. Davis’ reports will also run on weekday’s SportsCenter AM (5-6 a.m.) and in SportsCenter Tonight (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) throughout the week.

ESPNEWS will offer all the latest Masters news beginning Monday, April 5, with interviews, pre- and post-round news conferences and analysis from Scott Van Pelt, Andy North and Mike Tirico.

The ESPN Films original production Yes Sir: Jack Nicklaus and the ’86 Masters will premiere Wednesday, April 6, at 6 p.m. on ESPN, following SportsCenter at the Masters. The one-hour documentary looks back at Nicklaus’ thrilling victory at Augusta in 1986 at the age of 46, the last of his 18 major wins. Included are new interviews with Nicklaus, his son and caddy Jackie, and others including Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Greg Norman.   

ESPN Classic
ESPN Classic will televise a 43-hour Masters Tribute featuring Official Masters Films beginning Tuesday, April 5, at 8 p.m. The tribute will include highlights from every year of the Masters from 1960 through 2010, with programming continuing all day Wednesday and through 3 p.m. on Thursday when first round coverage begins.

Parts of the first and second rounds and the Par 3 Contest will be simulcast live on the ABC SuperSign in New York City’s Time Square on Wednesday, April 6, from 3-5 p.m. and Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

ESPN Classic
8:00 PM
3:00 PM
43-Hour Masters Tribute
3:00 PM
5:00 PM
Par 3 Contest
5:00 PM
6:00 PM
SportsCenter at the Masters
6:00 PM
7:00 PM
Yes Sir – Jack Nicklaus and the ’86 Masters
ESPN, ESPN Deportes
3:00 PM
7:30 PM
First Round
5:30 PM
7:30 PM
First Round
8:00 PM
11:00 PM
First Round (Encore)
ESPN, ESPN Deportes
3:00 PM
7:30 PM
Second Round
5:30 PM
7:30 PM
Second Round
8:00 PM
11:00 PM
Second Round (Encore)
5:00 PM
7:00 PM
Third Round
5:00 PM
7:00 PM
Final Round