It’s been more than three months, but FS1 is finally looking to land a permanent replacement for Cris Carter on the network’s morning show, First Things First.

Carter, the Hall of Fame receiver who played for the Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, parted ways with the network back in November. It remains unclear what caused the sudden departure, other than reports of unspecified behind-the-scenes issues. Both Fox Sports and Carter have declined to discuss what happened with the Inquirer.

The network is leaning toward former ESPN executive Kevin Wildes as a full-time replacement for Carter, according to network sources not authorized to speak on the record, pointing out a deal has yet to be finalized. Wildes, who most recently worked at Relevent Sports Group after a short stint with ABC, spent 10 years at ESPN as the vice president of original content, where he produced shows like NBA Countdown and Kobe Bryant’s Detail on ESPN+. News of Wildes’ joining First Things First was first reported by the Big Lead’s Bobby Burack.

Fox Sports, which has said the show “remains a priority,” is also exploring the possibility of adding a fourth host alongside Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe, but sources said the network is in the very early stages of considering talent and are not close to making a final decision. Since Carter’s departure from the show, FS1 has turned to a series of fill-in hosts, most recently former NBA player Antoine Walker.

Carter has mostly kept a low profile in recent months, but did make several radio appearances from the Super Bowl’s Radio Row. He has not commented publicly on his separation with FS1, and his Twitter feed continues to be dominated by Bible verses, though during the Super Bowl he did direct a couple of tweets at Wright.

MLB Network hosts rip into Astros after widely-mocked news conference

MLB Network host Matt Vasgersian offered some tough criticism of the Astros following a widely-derided press conference about their sign-stealing scandal on Thursday.
MLB Network
MLB Network host Matt Vasgersian offered some tough criticism of the Astros following a widely-derided press conference about their sign-stealing scandal on Thursday.

In an attempt to address their cheating scandal, the Astros gave a widely-panned news conference on Thursday where second baseman José Altuve refused to outright deny he wore an electric buzzer and owner Jim Crane attempted to downplay the impact sign stealing had during the team’s 2017 World Series win.

ESPN’s Marly Rivera ended the news conference with a tough line of questioning, where she pressed Crane to explain what exactly they were apologizing for:

Crane: “We’re apologizing because we broke the rules.”
Rivera: “But isn’t sign-stealing a distinct advantage for the hitter? So doesn’t it automatically impact competition?”
Crane: "It could possibly do that, it could possibly not."

Refreshingly and somewhat surprisingly, among the most vocal critics of the Astros’ comments were Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds, who anchored the MLB Network’s live coverage immediately following the news conference.

Vasgersian, who also handles play-by-play alongside Alex Rodriguez on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, described the comments as rehearsed “non-admissions.” He was particularly incensed over how players responded when asked why they didn’t come forward or stop the cheating scandal.

“The answer to the question ‘Why didn’t the players stop it?’ is ‘We were winning, we knew we were winning, we were going to win the World Series, and we were drunk with success.’ That’s why,” Vasgersian said. “They’re not going to walk away from the successful thing they built that they were convinced was ironclad and foolproof. That’s the answer. Not, ‘It didn’t help us win.’ "

KTLA, a CW-affiliate in Los Angles, also didn’t pull any punches, describing Altuve in a chyron as simply “Astros cheater.”

Quick hits

• One day after being mocked by the Phillies official Twitter account, 94.1 WIP host Howard Eskin continues to struggle with the names of players and coaches on the team. On Thursday, Eskin mistakenly referred to new Phillies manager Joe Girardi as “Jim" (though some, like the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, suspect it might be intentional):

My former colleague Matt Mullin had some fun over at Philly Voice chronicling some of the misspellings and missteps Eskin has made on Twitter over the years. I had forgotten about many of them, such as calling Cliff Lee “Cluff Lee” and referring to a Ponzi scheme as a “Ponzios scheme.”

“The twitter police can be dopes,” Eskin wrote on Wednesday. “Bite it.”

• Paul Finebaum’s future at ESPN appears to be up in the air. The longtime sports talker and SEC analyst, known in college football circles as the Mouth of the South, is exploring his future as his contract with the network is set to expire next year. Finebaum confirmed on Alabama sports radio a report by Sports Business Daily’s Michael Smith he’s considering a host of options — including the possibility of a sitcom that would tell the story of how his career started on fellow ESPNer Tony Kornheiser’s podcast.

“They wrote it as a guy from New York who comes to the South, loosely set in Birmingham,” Finebaum said, according to “Someone with that mentality dealing with a different culture. That’s the concept. One of the ideas was to have me married to a very Southern family. And, just the conflicts of a New Yorker who was edgier than the norm.”

Finebaum has been with ESPN since 2013. Asked if a second extension with the network is possible, Finebaum simply said, “I’m going to work today. I have an agreement, and I love what I do.”