Behind the Mic: Fox Sports Slates Voices of 2018 MLB Postseason, 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers; Matt Millen Steps Away From Big Ten Network

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Fox Sports announces the voices of the 2018 MLB Postseason and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, Matt Millen steps away from the Big Ten Netowrk due to health concerns, Bob Stoops and Vince Young join the college football production on Fox, Stan Van Gundy signs to ESPN as an NBA analyst while Mina Kimes receives an extension, UFC 229:Khabib vs. McGregor is spiced up with a cast of characters, Don Van Natta Jr. will spearhead a new ESPN docuseries and podcasts, and Bob Cole returns for his 50th and final season on Sportsnet’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Fox Sports set the stage for the league’s best teams and greatest matchups this October. The network announced its full on-air broadcaster lineup for coverage of the MLB Postseason, including the National League Division Series presented by Doosan (NLDS), National League Championship Series (NLCS), and World Series presented by YouTube TV, with Postseason coverage beginning Thursday, Oct. 4, on FS1 and Fox Deportes. The announcement was made by John Entz, Fox Sports’ President of Production & Executive Producer.

For the 21st time, the Fox broadcast network is the exclusive home of the World Series, this year streaming live via the Fox Sports App and airing exclusively in Spanish on Fox Deportes.

FS1’s Postseason coverage officially led off with the MLB on FS1 pregame show followed by NLDS Game 1 coverage between the Colorado Rockies and the Milwaukee Brewers at 5:00 PM ET. Veteran play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert, Cy-Young award winner, five-time World Series Champion David Cone, two-time MLB All-Star and World Series Champion AJ Pierzynski and MLB insider Jon Paul Morosi call the series for FS1.

The Atlanta Braves versus Los Angeles Dodgers series is called on FS1 by highly acclaimed play-by-play announcer Joe Davis, alongside first-ballot Hall of Famer and 1995 World Series Champion John Smoltz. Veteran Emmy Award-winning reporter Ken Rosenthal and three-time Emmy Award-winner Tom Verducci join the broadcast booth from the field, bringing viewers exclusive inside information. NLDS Game 2 coverage of Braves at Dodgers airs on FS1 Friday, Oct. 5 at 9:30 PM ET.

For the National League Championship Series and World Series, Smoltz reunites with multi-Emmy Award-winning announcer Joe Buck in the booth, as well as Rosenthal and Verducci.

In the studio, pregame and postgame coverage returns with a two-time Emmy-Award winning group of familiar faces. Host Kevin Burkhardt anchors a desk inundated with larger-than-life personalities, including Hall of Famer Frank Thomas and World Series Champions David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez as analysts. World Series Champion and two-time MLB All-Star Dontrelle Willis joins the group throughout the Postseason as a pitching analyst…

JP Dellacamera, recently honored with the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s 2018 Colin Jose Media Award, and former U.S. Women’s National Team member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Wagner have been named Fox Sports’ lead announce team for the 2018 Concacaf Championship. The announcement was made by David Neal, Executive Producer, FIFA World Cup on Fox.

The duo is set to call all USA Group Stage matches live from Cary, N.C., and the Semifinals and Final from Frisco, Texas. Alex Curry reports from the sideline. Fox Sports’ presentation of the regional qualifying tournament to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off Thursday, Oct. 4 at 5:00 PM ET on FS2 as Trinidad & Tobago faced Panama to begin Group A.

Fox Sports also announced a star-studded roster of on-air talent that will call matches throughout the event. Play-by-play announcers will include Derek Rae, the decorated commentator fresh off his stint calling FIFA World Cup 2018 matches for Fox Sports; Fox Sports FIFA World Cup veterans Jenn Hildreth (2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup) and Mark Followill (2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup); and regular Fox Sports contributor Keith Costigan.

Analysts will include Cat Whitehill, who called the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final; Kyndra de St. Aubin, also a veteran of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Fox Sports and the first full-time female color commentator in Major League Soccer (Minnesota United on Fox Sports North); and former U.S. WNT member Danielle Slaton, who was recently part of the first all-female announce team to call a Major League Soccer match…

…According to Awful AnnouncingMatt Millen has been battling a rare disease called amyloidosis since 2011, but was only diagnosed last summer. Despite his heart operating at 30% capacity, undergoing chemotherapy, and needing a heart transplant, Millen has done his best to keep a full work schedule as an analyst for the Big Ten Network.

On Wednesday, BTN announced in a statement that Millen will be stepping away from the broadcast booth for the rest of this season in order to tend to his health. Millen had been in the booth for the first five games this season, but will not be calling any more games this season…

…A pair of Big 12 Conference icons — former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and former Texas quarterback Vince Young – join Fox Sports’ expanded coverage of the Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 6. The network announced that Stoops and Young are part of a two-hour edition of Fox College Football Pregame live from the State Fair of Texas beginning at 10:00 AM ET on FS1 and continuing at 11:00 AM ET on FS1 and the Fox broadcast network.

Stoops, who led the Sooners to a national title, 10 Big 12 championships and is the program’s all-time winningest coach, and Young, an All-American and national championship quarterback with the Longhorns, sit alongside Fox Sports studio host Rob Stone and analysts Matt Leinart, Robert Smith, and Dave Wannstedt for select segments from the network’s on-site studio outside Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. Once the game kicks off at 12:00 PM ET on the Fox broadcast network, Fox Sports lead play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, analyst Joel Klatt, and reporter Jenny Taft call the action…

…Veteran NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy is joining ESPN as an NBA analyst for the 2018-19 season. Van Gundy will primarily serve as a studio analyst, making appearances on several ESPN shows, including NBA Countdown, The Jump, Get Up!, SportsCenter, First Take and NBA specials…

…ESPN senior writer Mina Kimes has agreed to a multiyear extension with ESPN. She also debuted an NFL-themed podcast — Bootleg with Mina Kimes. Kimes, who joined ESPN in May 2014, will continue to write for ESPN The Magazine, as well as maintain a presence across a variety of programming including: as a regular panelist on Around the Horn; as a co-host on The Morning Roast on ESPN Radio with Domonique Foxworth and Clinton Yates; guesting on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and Highly Questionable; as a debater on First Take; as a contributor to E:60; appearances on Get Up!; and more…

…Fox Sports announced UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping join lead UFC host Karyn Bryant for Fox Sports’ coverage of UFC 229: KHABIB VS. MCGREGOR on Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 live in Las Vegas. Megan Olivi adds reports and interviews fighters on-site.

Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz joins blow-by-blow announcer Jon Anik and veteran MMA analyst Joe Rogan to call UFC 229 live Octagon-side in Las Vegas Saturday. In addition, top-ranked welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio, bantamweight Marlon “Chito” Vera, and Victor Davila call the fights in Spanish on Fox Deportes.

Fox Sports UFC 229 programming begins with UFC Tonight Wednesday, Oct. 3 (8:00 PM ET) on FS1, when hosts Kenny Florian and Daniel Cormier break down Khabib vs. McGregor and interview both fighters. They’ll also talk to the No. 2-ranked lightweight Tony Ferguson about his co-main event against former champion Anthony Pettis…

…Award-winning journalist Don Van Natta Jr. will see his role expand across ESPN as the host of two new series slated to debut in 2019. Van Natta will also increase his contributions to ESPN’s investigative news show Outside the Lines and his work will continue to appear across ESPN’s platforms.

Some details on the two new projects Van Natta will work on with executive producer John Dahl of ESPN Films, Original Content and Special Projects:

  • Backstory
    • Behind sports’ biggest headlines, there is something more — the story behind the story. This documentary series will bring fresh reporting and perspectives by exploring what’s beneath some of sports’ biggest scandals and controversies. The series will include a combination of Van Natta’s own reporting and interviews with the journalists who broke the stories as well as the protagonists themselves. The curious case of Manti Te’o will be explored in the pilot episode of Backstory.

  • The Triangle
    • Van Natta and Dahl are also developing a new ESPN interview podcast. Van Natta will lead a three-way discussion featuring provocative pairings that explore topics and shared histories with a level of depth, storytelling, and, at times, conflict likely to test the comfort zones of all involved…

…A legend and beloved voice to hockey fans across Canada, when Bob Cole sets foot in the broadcast booth on the first Saturday of this NHL season, he will be celebrating his 50th and final year on Hockey Night in Canada.

Beginning his hockey-broadcasting career with VOCM radio in his hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Cole moved into television in 1973. In addition to 50 years on Hockey Night in Canada, Cole has also called hockey play-by-play for multiple Olympic Games. Cole is a Gemini-award winning broadcaster, a member of the Order of Canada, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for broadcasting excellence.

Cole is scheduled to call 10 games, all of which will come in the first half of the 2018-19 season. Cole’s first game of the year will be on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, Oct. 6 for the game between Montreal and Pittsburgh.

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