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9 a.m. Sat.: Another Whiteside achievement; Media column: A look at the Marlins' unique new TV approach and the challenge of replacing Hutton; Media notes

Every week or so, Hassan Whiteside seems to accomplish something that only a select few have. Here's the latest, according to Elias: 

Whiteside scored 26 points, hauled down 12 rebounds and had five blocks while playing only 29 minutes off the bench in Miami's win against Orlando on Friday night.

Since the NBA began tracking blocked shots in 1973, the only other players to reach those levels in points, rebounds and blocks while spending fewer than 30 minutes on the court in a game are Lew Alcindor in 1977 (28 points, 12 rebounds, 9 blocks in 26 minutes), Bill Walton in 1978 (26 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks in 26 minutes) and Robert Parish in 1980 (29 points, 18 rebounds, 7 blocks in 29 minutes).

All three of those players are in the Hall of Fame.

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FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

 

Fox and the Marlins made a monumental mistake dumping Tommy Hutton after 19 seasons, but at least they hired two respected, capable and network-experienced analysts to replace him (Eduardo Perez and Al Leiter) and two other familiar voices (Preston Wilson and Jeff Conine) who will pitch in.

Perez will work between 70 and 80 games, Leiter between 20 and 30, Conine about 10 and Wilson in the 30 to 40 range, including the season’s first two regular-season games against Detroit, April 5 and 6.

In order to develop some continuity, Fox will have the analysts work an entire series alongside Rich Waltz, instead of alternating game to game.

The Marlins preferred to hire one analyst, but former UM and big-league infielder FP Santangelo – Miami’s first choice --- was prohibited from accepting the job because he couldn’t escape his Washington Nationals contract.

The Marlins and Fox auditioned Cubs analyst Todd Hollandsworth but ultimately opted for the four-pronged approach.

Here’s the biggest concern with using four analysts: Will they be as knowledgeable about the team as a single analyst would, considering they won’t be with the club every day?

That’s less of a worry with Conine (a Marlins special assistant) or with Wilson, who will do a lot of Marlins studio work when he’s not in the booth, while also juggling his new studio gig with MLB Network.

But Leiter will be busy calling 30 Yankees games for YES Network and doing studio commentary for MLB Network (70 to 75 annual appearances), while Perez will be making 70 appearances for ESPN, including serving as a co-analyst on the network’s Monday night package.

Perez said he believes doing ESPN games will be “an advantage” in his Marlins job “because I’m covering everybody, National League, American League. I will watch every Marlins game on replay in the morning. I'm a baseball junkie, and this plays into it. It's a great excuse to watch more baseball when I have to explain it to my wife.”

Leiter, who will make his Marlins TV debut on the April 11-13 Mets series, said he “will be pulling up highlights and box scores...I won't be watching every game but I will know exactly what the hell they're doing.”

Money is obviously a natural incentive in Perez taking on a second job, and Leiter accepting a third, but there’s more to it. Both feel a connection to the franchise, Perez having served as hitting coach here for 1 ½ seasons and Leiter having pitched here for three, during two separate stints.

“I live here in Miami. I coached here,” Perez said. “My dad [Hall of Famer Tony Perez] has been part of the Marlins for a long time [as a special assistant].

“I understand the fan base. Doing ESPN and the Marlins, it's the best of both worlds. My agent called and said there was an interest on their side, and I am grateful to ESPN they gave me the OK that I can do this when I'm not over there.”

Perez, who will work the Marlins’ first road series (in Washington), said calling games for a team for the first time also appealed to him. “Anybody sitting next to Rich Waltz is going to be fine,” he said.

Leiter, meanwhile, said he “always had an affinity for my time with the Marlins. It was 100 percent enjoyment here, when I had my first free agency opportunity in the winter of 1995. My wife is from down there. We sold the house in Weston but my wife's family is in Plantation and Fort Lauderdale, and South Florida is definitely a second home.

“Every so often, you want to rattle the cage and spice [life] up. I'm too antsy. I drink too much coffee. I've got to stay busy. This is a 100 percent fun thing. I’m thrilled.”

All the new analysts know Hutton will be difficult to replace.

“I am not going to try to fill his shoes in any way, shape or form,” Perez said. “He has his own unique style. We have ours. I was at a golf tournament with Hut and he was the first person to congratulate me when I got the job. There will be times during the season I will reference Hut. I hope to be half as good as he was.”

Though the Marlins and Fox have declined to comment publicly about the Hutton decision, the Marlins thought Hutton was too negative at times, both on air and off. But a source with direct knowledge insisted that Fox, which employs the announcers, was as much if not more to blame for Hutton’s ouster.

The source said Fox thought Hutton made too much money and considering dumping him during previous offseasons. If Fox Sports Florida general manager Steve Tello wanted to keep Hutton, he certainly could have.

As for Hutton, he will do a weekly Monday segment, in the 3 p.m. hour on Andy Slater’s talk show, on WINZ-940.

Hutton said he’s frustrated he couldn’t find a job with another team, but he got a late start looking, because Fox and the Marlins didn’t dismiss him until Thanksgiving week. And there was very little turnover in MLB announcing booths this offseason.

As for his spirits, he said he has some good days and some bad days after losing a job at which he excelled. He said he’s constantly reminded about his contract not being renewed, because fans frequently approach him and say they will miss him.

• Fox Sports Florida's Marlins season preview will air for the first time at 12:30 p.m. Sunday with numerous re-airings.

AROUND THE DIAL

• Thursday's UM-Villanova game generated a 4.9 rating in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market --- comparable to most Heat games. But that 4.9, equal to 4.9 percent of South Florida homes with TV sets, ranked just 18th among 56 metered markets.

• NCAA Tournament fans could always count on spending the tournament's second Sunday afternoon on the couch, watching regional finals. Not so this year.

TBS, not CBS, has the Sunday regional finals this year and has moved the two games to the evening (between 6 and 11 p.m.). CBS' Saturday games also will air between 6 and 11 p.m., with Oklahoma-Oregon preceding Kansas-Villanova.

• The Los Angeles Rams are the enlightened choice to be featured on this season's five-episode Hard Knocks series on HBO, debuting Aug. 9. It will tell the story of the Rams returning to their former home after 22 years in St. Louis.

Curt Schilling, who was yanked off the air by ESPN last summer after comparing radical Muslims to Nazis, can't seem to keep his world views to himself.

Schilling on March 1 indicated on a Kansas City radio station that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "should be buried under a jail somewhere" for how she handled classified emails as Secretary of State. Schilling added, "If she's allowed to get to the general election before she's in prison I'll be stunned and upset." 

ESPN reportedly will use Schilling on its Monday night games this season.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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