Joe Morgan “was not surprised by ESPN’s decision”

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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.

Long time NL umpire Dutch Rennert has died

MLB.com
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MLB.com reports that long time umpire Dutch Rennert has died at the age of 88.

Rennert retired as a National League umpire after the 1992 season, so a lot of you didn’t get a chance to see him. But believe me, if you got a chance to see him in action, you’d remember him. He had one of the most distinct strikeout calls in history. He’d go turn to the side, go down on one knee, point with purpose and bellow “STRIKE . . . ONNNNNNEEEEE!”

It was quite the scene, man:

 

I used to love it when Rennert called a game I was watching on TV. I always knew the count.

Rest in Peace, Dutch. I cannot vouch for the peace of whoever is on the cloud next to yours, though.