Three cheers for awkward trades. ESPN just announced during the Monday Night Football halftime show that Terry Francona will indeed replace Bobby Valentine in the broadcast booth for Sunday Night Baseball alongside Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser. He’ll also make appearances on Baseball Tonight, starting later this evening.
Francona was fired as Red Sox manager following the season and received positive reviews when he subbed for Tim McCarver during FOX’s coverage of the ALCS. He met with FOX after failing to land another managing gig this winter, but was reportedly in talks with ESPN as recently as a few days ago.
While I’m looking forward to seeing Francona in the broadcast booth on a regular basis next season, his tenure there doesn’t figure to be a long one. He’ll likely be mentioned for every prominent managerial opening next offseason.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.