ESPN announced today that Chris Berman will not be hosting the 2017 Home Run Derby. In comes Karl Ravech, ESPN’s longtime “Baseball Tonight” host, to take over.
The move is part of Berman’s general scaling back of broadcast duties at ESPN, which was announced in January. ESPN’s release did not mention it, but it’s also worth noting that Berman tragically lost his wife in an automobile accident last month.
Whatever the impetus, the move is likely to be well received by viewers. Berman may be a sports broadcasting legend, but his “Back-back-back” calls and often cringeworthy references have long been a source of displeasure for those watching the Derby.
Here’s hoping Ravech doesn’t feel the need to introduce schtick into the proceedings.
Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.
Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.
The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.
In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.