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Mae fired up for 'Hot Stove' show on MLB Network

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / December 19, 2008
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For those of you who were fans when she was on NESN, you won't have long to wait to catch Hazel Mae in her new role - as a reporter for the MLB Network.

The venture is launching New Year's Day at 6 p.m. into 50 million homes with a live, one-hour "Hot Stove" studio show followed by a replay of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Throughout the month, the new network will introduce original programming as well as specials.

Mae, the former lead anchor for NESN's SportsDesk, said the transition from Boston to the network's home in Secaucus, N.J., has been interesting.

"So far, so great," said Mae. "It's part nerve-racking, part exhilarating. It is thrilling to be part of a start-up, particularly a national network like MLB. I've been asked whether I feel added pressure. Yes, but I want to turn that pressure into motivation.

"I really feel like the network as a whole is getting off to a tremendous start come Jan. 1."

Her role has yet to be etched in stone but she expects it to change regularly, and that suits her just fine.

"I knew when I took this on that they would look to me to be a versatile part of the team," she said. "If I am needed to go fly somewhere and cover one team out on the field, I am ready and able to do so. They knew a lot of my strength comes from in-studio, anchoring, and hosting, so they were comfortable [on short notice] having me host a particular show here in the studio. That's what's great about this gig, it's a little bit of everything."

She said that keeps it fresh, although she expects to know more once the network gets underway.

"I really don't have a defined role as of yet," she said. "Things are still up in the air. I don't think anybody does apart from maybe the analysts. I was rehearsing on the update desk. I know I'll be out on the field as well."

One project she is particularly looking forward to will come early next year. The network is producing 30 one-hour specials, one from all 30 spring training sites entitled, "30 Clubs in 30 Days."

"It's very ambitious," she said. "I don't think it's ever been done."

Manny moments
Comcast SportsNet will air a 30-minute documentary on former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez entitled, "Manny Being Manny," on Christmas at 8 p.m., following the Celtics-Lakers postgame show. The special will chronicle Ramirez's legacy in Boston, his bond with the fans who overlooked his eccentricities, his offseason preparation for the 2008 season, and his hiring of agent Scott Boras. The show will feature candid commentary from Boston columnists such as Globe colleague Dan Shaughnessy . . . For Dallas Cowboys fans, the NFL Network has a smorgasbord planned for tomorrow leading up to the historic final game at Texas Stadium at 8 p.m. between the Cowboys and Ravens. The game will be preceded by 14 hours of specials starting at 6 a.m., with five episodes of the network's Emmy Award-winning "America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions," which chronicles Dallas's five Super Bowl championships. Beginning at 5 p.m., live from Texas Stadium, the network will air "Total Access on Location," hosted by Rich Eisen, which will set the scene with features such as an interview with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a retrospective on the history of Texas Stadium, and interviews with some of the team's greatest players.

Let's go bowling
ESPN will kick off its college football bowl coverage tomorrow with four games - the inaugural EagleBank Bowl (Wake Forest vs. Navy) at 11 a.m. on ESPN; the New Mexico Bowl (Colorado State vs. Fresno State) at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN; the St. Petersburg Bowl (Memphis vs. South Florida) at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2; and the Las Vegas Bowl (BYU vs. Arizona) at 8 p.m. on ESPN . . . The NHL Winter Classic was a smash last season between the Penguins and Sabres, which was played outdoors in Orchard Park, N.Y. This season, NBC will air the Blackhawks-Red Wings game at Wrigley Field in Chicago New Year's Day. It will be the second outdoor NHL game played in the United States. The festivities will be hosted by Bob Costas. He'll be joined by play-by-play man Mike Emrick, on-site analyst Eddie Olczyk, studio analyst Mike Milbury, and reporters Pierre McGuire and Darren Pang.

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