ESPN announced on Thursday that on-air personality Chris Berman will assume a new position for the company after the NFL season. He will make on-air appearances and serve in public-facing roles on ESPN’s behalf.
As a result, Berman will no longer be involved with ESPN’s NFL coverage in-studio, the NFL draft, as well as the Home Run Derby. Berman has been present for each ESPN presentation of the Derby. Berman has also called MLB games and hosted Baseball Tonight.
Berman will be inexorably linked to the Home Run Derby for his famous “back, back, back” call.
Christian Red of the New York Daily News reports that former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez will not attempt a comeback in 2017. Instead, he’ll serve as a “special advisor” to Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. The Yankees still owe him $21 million for 2017 regardless, as Red notes.
Rodriguez, 41, struggled to a .200/.247/.351 triple-slash line with nine home runs and 31 RBI in 243 plate appearances. The Yankees released him in mid-August and he did not latch on with another team. Rodriguez joined FOX Sports for their playoff coverage as he did in 2015.
If his career is over, Rodriguez is sitting on 696 home runs, the fourth-most in baseball history behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714). Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees including a clause in which he was to be paid $6 million for reaching home run milestones (660, 714, 755, 762, 763). Rodriguez also retires with 117.7 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which is the 12th most all-time among position players.
The World Baseball Classic is set to kick off in March. For the Pirates, none of their pitchers are participating, but catcher Francisco Cervelli (Italy) and outfielders Andrew McCutchen (USA), Starling Marte (Dominican Republic), and Gregory Polanco (Dominican Republic) are.
If any of the Pirates’ pitchers were participating, pitching coach Ray Searage would advise them against doing so, he said in an interview with MLB Network Radio.
I am not one of the guys that is in favor of the WBC and the reason being — I’ve seen it over the years before — guys cutting short their rest periods for the winter and their workout routines and speeding it up. Now, this doesn’t hold true for everybody. It’s just that, in my opinion, I just think that you’re speeding up the process and that you leave yourself open to an injury during the season because now, all of a sudden, instead of April where you’re firing off, now you’re firing off in March, which is a couple of weeks before you should be. And the body is, to me, looking at my pitchers and stuff, they’re routine orientated. And the way they go about their stuff, speeding up the process — it happened to two of our guys. That’s probably why I have a bad taste in my mouth, it happened to two of our guys the last time: Jason Grilli and Wandy Rodriguez. They played in the WBC and they ended up getting hurt during the season. I think it’s great for baseball, I really do, but it’s that catch-22 thing: you’re danged if you do and danged if you don’t. If any of my pitchers asked me, I’d say no.