This was suspected, but ESPN made it official today: Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine will be be the new Sunday Night Baseball announcing team. They replace Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Hershiser was the third man last season.
I like Shulman. He’s a solid play by play guy and, most importantly for me, doesn’t act like the stuff happening on the field has never happened before in the history of baseball! Which was one of my only criticisms of Miller, by the way. He didn’t do it often, but sometimes Miller got a wee bit too excited. I shan’t spend any more words on Joe Morgan because everyone knows what he was all about by now. I don’t have a terrible problem with Valentine as a studio guy, but I’ve never liked a third guy in a baseball broadcast booth. I just don’t think there’s enough ground to cover and it leads to chatty awkwardness. Or awkward chattiness. Sometimes both.
All of that said, it’s a good team, and for the first time in a long time, I won’t have to consider the broadcasters as a possible reason for me to tune in or not tune into the Sunday night game.
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.