Joe Morgan issued a short statement to address ESPN declining to renew his contract after 20 years as the lead analyst on “Sunday Night Baseball”:
I was not surprised by ESPN’s decision. They have been taking “Sunday Night Baseball” in a different direction the last two years and I was not comfortable with that direction.
And that was it, which makes it pretty clear that Morgan was pushed out and isn’t happy.
As for the part about the “different direction” that Morgan wasn’t comfortable with for the past two years, as Richard Sandomir of the New York Times notes it seems pretty obvious that he’s referring to the addition of a second analyst in the broadcast booth, first with Steve Phillips in 2009 and then with Orel Hershiser this season.
Sandomir reports that Hershiser is expected to take over as the lead analyst in 2011, with Dan Shulman replacing Jon Miller as the play-by-play announcer. So far at least there’s been no talk about a potential third person in the booth, so perhaps that “different direction” ESPN took was mostly about having another voice besides Morgan.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.