Peter Gammons is leaving ESPN

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If the Yankees traded Derek Jeter to the Mets for two minor leaguers, about half of this media room would be running around like crazy.  About 15 minutes ago, the entire media room started running around like crazy.  Why? Because one of their own is getting dealt, and it’s a big big name:

Baseball Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons has decided to pursue
new endeavors and will no longer be a contributor to ESPN after this
week’s winter meetings.

Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production:

“As a print journalist moving to television, Peter was a pioneer who
became a Hall of Famer.  His contributions to ESPN will never be
forgotten.  We’re sad to see Peter go, but understand his desire for
new challenges and a less demanding schedule.”

The initial reaction among the media throng is shock.  He and other ESPN people were swarmed as soon as it started filtering through.  They are just as surprised as anyone. And confused: some have said that maybe he doesn’t want to be out chasing the story anymore, which hews to the corporate statement. Others, however, have said that he lives for this stuff and wouldn’t be leaving merely for a lifestyle change. Gammons hasn’t deviated much from his formal statement in hallway conversations, but it’s a pretty big hallway, so it’s not like he’s going to dish dirt out there to people he doesn’t know.

No one, however — including ESPN folks — would rule out the possibility that corporate politics is playing a part. Dealing with the ESPN suits in Bristol can be a headache. And perhaps money was an issue.  Gammons presumably makes a lot of money in a media world where ad revenue is shrinking.  No one seriously believes that ESPN would make Gammons leave if he didn’t want to, but many are prepared to accept the possibility that either (a) they asked him to take less money; or (b) he’s just had it with the World Wide Leader in Sports.

Not that those things are mutually-exclusive.

UPDATE: Gammons is headed to MLB Network, with an official announcement expected tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see if he also finds a new writing job, assuming the TV deal doesn’t include some MLB.com work as well.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.