The Fanatic is counter-programming the Phillies with ... the Phillies.
With rival 94.1 WIP airing Phillies games, 97.5 has launched a new evening show called The Fanatic Baseball Show, hosted by midday producer Andrew Salciunas. The new show premiered Tuesday and will air Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday nights from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the baseball season (Anthony Gargano’s gambling show Cuz’s Corner airs Thursday nights).
The debut episode featured The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, who addressed the Phillies’ relatively low placement on MLB.com’s latest power rankings, released right around the quarter-season mark. Despite being just one of seven major-league teams with a .600-or-better winning percentage, MLB.com has the Phillies as just the 11th-best team.
“I would have them at seventh or eighth," Stark said. “The road to October is winning every series, and the Phillies are on that track.”
Despite superstar Bryce Harper’s slow start, the Phillies have been a hot commodity. Ratings on NBC Sports Philadelphia were up 31 percent during the first month of the season, compared to last year. And the Phillies are also drawing fans to the ballpark, posting the fourth-highest attendance in all of baseball through the first month of the season, trailing just the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Yankees.
Even with the newfound interest in the Phillies, Salciunas faces an uphill battle, considering WIP airs Phillies games and offers its own pregame show that features interviews with coaches, players, and members of the broadcast team.
Wrestling is returning to TNT, though you won’t see Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, or any of your favorite WWE wrestlers.
TNT and All Elite Wrestling — a new wrestling company featuring all-stars such as Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega — announced an agreement to air live matches weekly in prime time starting later this year. Longtime WWE commentator and executive Jim Ross has also signed on to the company as a senior adviser.
So far, a specific day of the week hasn’t been announced, but it’s been rumored that the upstart wrestling show will air Tuesday nights. All Elite Wrestling will also air matches on Bleacher Report’s streaming platform B/R Live and on pay-per-view.
It’ll be the first time TNT has aired live wrestling since WCW Monday Nitro ended in March 2001. WWE airs Monday Night Raw on USA Network, and beginning Oct. 4, will air SmackDown Live on Friday nights on Fox. An untitled WWE studio show is also slated to air Tuesday nights on FS1 beginning in the fall.
“Wrestling fans have wanted — and needed — something different, authentic and better for far too long,” Tony Khan, the president and chief executive of All Elite Wrestling, said in a statement.
The new company’s inaugural event — “Double or Nothing” — will steam on B/R Live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 25. Headlining the event will be a match between Omega and Jericho.
• Turkey won’t air the NBA’s Western Conference finals because Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter is a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and a supporter of Poconos-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of being the leader of a failed 2016 coup (though he denies any involvement).
• The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday, which will likely impact the league’s television ratings next year. “Obviously not ideal for the NBA,” longtime sports marketing analyst Bob Dorfman told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. The Pelican’s ticket office had a slightly different reaction.