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ESPN to have a two-person booth for Sunday Night Baseball

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A couple of weeks ago we learned that Jessica Mendoza would no longer be on Sunday Night Baseball for ESPN. Today we learn who is replacing her: nobody. That’s right, ESPN just announced that they are going back to a two-person booth for MLB’s flagship broadcast.

There had been some speculation that, perhaps, they’d change who those two people would be, but they announced today that it will be incumbent play-by-play guy Matt Vasgersian and incumbent analyst, Alex Rodiguez. Buster Olney will still do his sideline thing.

My personal preference has always been and always will be a one-person booth because I don’t believe that viewers need so much crosstalk and someone talking about the grip on a cutter 28 times a game. I realize, however, that outside of venerable holdouts like Bob Uecker, that ship has sailed. The move into three-person booths has been exponentially worse, with even more crosstalk and long stretches in which no one seems to even be paying attention to the game on the field.

The ESPN Sunday broadcast is still likely to be a difficult watch given their penchant for trying to recap the entire week’s baseball news during the course of the broadcast rather than concentrate on the game at hand, but doing it with two people is preferable to three. This is a definite improvement.

Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, miss rest of season

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said.

He threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.

“I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

Verlander has been on the injured list with a right forearm strain. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019.

“Obviously, this is not good news,” Verlander said. “However, I’m going to handle this the only way I know how. I’m optimistic. I’m going to put my head down, work hard, attack this rehab and hopefully, come out the other side better for it.

“I truly believe everything that everything happens for a reason, and although 2020 has sucked, hopefully, when this rehab process is all said and done, this will allow me to charge through the end of my career and be healthy as long as I want and pitch as long as I want and accomplish some of the goals that I want in my career.”

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