ESPN announced on Wednesday it has hired former major leaguer Raul Ibanez to replace Curt Schilling. The two asides agreed to a multi-year deal. Ibanez is expected to provide commentary on Baseball Tonight as well as select broadcast games.
Schilling was fired by ESPN last week, the culmination of a handful of social media snafus, the latest of which involved sharing an anti-transgender meme on Facebook. His other transgressions included suggesting that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere,” comparing Muslims to Nazis, and arguing with Keith Law over evolution. Law, not Schilling, was punished in that particular case.
Ibanez, who turns 44 in June, is a veteran of 19 seasons and last played in 2014 with the Royals. He was mentioned various times in the last two years as a potential candidate to coach or manage and ended up being hired as a special assistant to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman in February.
Ibanez will debut on ESPN at 8 PM EST tonight during the Rangers/Yankees game.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reports that Dallas Braden has been named Curt Schilling’s replacement on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball broadcasts.
Braden, famous for tossing a perfect game in 2010, retied from baseball in early 2014, calling his arm a “shredded mess.” He only pitched 18 more innings after the 2010 season, saying “I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum.” Since then he has had various media jobs, most recently as a studio talking head on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”
All in all it’s a pretty logical move. Braden’s profile has been rising on ESPN telecasts. I can’t say I’ve caught enough of his stuff on the air to know if he’s any good, but he’s always been outspoken and a little off-the-wall. The sort of player who eschewed cliches. That’s probably a good trait to have in this line of work.
While it might be nice for sports broadcasts to get away from hiring ex-players all of the time, if they’re going to do so they should at least try to get a mix of competent analysis and entertainment value. That’s a hard balance, of course — Schilling’s original hire was likely based on him being an outspoken, unpredictable guy and we see how that turned out — but it’s worth trying again. ESPN will now try it with Braden.
A day after getting fired it appears that Curt Schilling is making up for lost time on social media. I don’t follow the guy on any platform, but the Daily News has been playing close attention and describe his “social media bender.”
He’s been posting right wing memes and railing against political correctness and, in the usual ironic twist guys like Schilling often exhibit, is being highly, highly sensitive to criticism in that “me, mad? hahaha, no, I think this is funny, I’m actually laughing at this right now” kind of way which, in reality, masks some pretty decent outrage.
Best bit: he’s been mixing it up with Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has been intellectual and respectful and is holding an actual debate. Schilling decided that he’d insult McCarthy by claiming that McCarthy’s “life goes on” stance was some sort of failure on par with his having “only” nine career complete games:
So yeah, that’s all going well. Glad Schilling is keeping busy. And mature.
(Thanks to Josh for the heads up. Schilling blocks me so I didn’t see any of this)