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TBS says it's happy to have Rays on TV

You might think TBS, which is televising the first round of the baseball playoffs, is looking for the button marked "panic.''

For the first time since 1993, the New York Yankees are not in the playoffs. America's biggest market featuring America's most famous sports team has been replaced. Replaced by the little ol' Tampa Bay Rays.

Does TBS wish the Yankees were in the playoffs? Probably.

Is it upset the Rays are there instead? Not a chance.

"The Rays are an interesting team, one that has gained national attention,'' said Jeff Behnke, executive producer for Turner Sports. "From a television perspective, there's always a team that captures the imagination of the fans. Last season, it was the Colorado Rockies. This season, it's the Rays.

"We're thrilled to have the Rays.''

Maybe so, but TBS is not sending either of its top two broadcasting teams to cover the Rays' first-round series. While Chip Carey and Buck Martinez will do Red Sox-Angels and Dick Stockton, Ron Darling and Tony Gwynn will do Dodgers-Cubs, the Rays will get Don Orsillo on play-by-play with Harold Reynolds handling the analysis.

Orsillo normally calls games on TV for the Red Sox. Reynolds had extensive studio work on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and did analysis for the College and Little League World Series but has not done a lot of game analysis for major-league baseball. Marc Fein, the studio host for Atlanta Braves games, will be the field reporter.

Meantime, the voices Rays fans are used to hearing on TV — Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane — are shut out of the postseason coverage, as are home TV announcers all over the league. If fans want a local perspective, however, they can always use the old trick of turning down the TV sound and turning up the radio. The Rays radio team of Dave Wills and Andy Freed will continue to call playoff games on 1250-AM.

TBS says it's happy to have Rays on TV 10/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 8:33pm]
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