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Alex Rodriguez Ready For Another MLB Season on ESPN

The retired MLB-player is entering his fourth season calling games for ESPN.

Russ Heltman

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The 2021 MLB season has arrived, and with it comes another stint in the Sunday Night Baseball booth for Alex Rodriguez. The businessman and retired player is approaching a half-decade broadcasting baseball. On Wednesday, AROD shared a few thoughts on the 2021 season and reflected on his time broadcasting baseball games.

Joining Rodriguez on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian and Senior MLB Insider Buster Olney. Being part of that trio of experienced and talented broadcasters is what keeps Rodriguez feeling good about the network’s presentation for baseball fans.

“My chemistry with Matt is getting better and better,” Rodriguez said. “We spoke already this morning, and Buster Olney is as good as it gets. I’m surrounded by great talent.”

One thing Rodriguez has learned after three years behind the microphone is a comfortability with his own talent. 

“One of the greatest guys that I’ve ever seen in my career over the last 25 years has been Joe Buck, and I think he’s the greatest, and he gets a hard time,” Rodriguez added. “It’s a business that you’re never going to get everybody’s thumbs-up.”

Broadcasting is “just like playing baseball” for Rodriguez, who tried to purchase the New York Mets in the offseason. “We gave it a great run, and the Mets are a fantastic franchise with a great fan base, and I think the ownership is going to do a fantastic job,” Rodriguez said. “I also think they have very much a competitive advantage — when you have 29 teams that have been bleeding, and you have one owner that’s coming in hot and ready to win a World Championship, I think there’s an immense competitive advantage.”

Rodriguez praised MLB for its experimentation with mic’ing up players on the field, noting some conversations he had during playing days in between the lines would’ve made for great content. There’s been a great response to that side of the broadcast and it’s seen as a positive way to welcome a younger generation of fans to the game. 

“I want to see them (players) driving home and coming to the stadium,” Rodriguez said. “The more, the better.”

Rodriguez is on the call for New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 1. He’ll be part of ESPN’s Opening Day quadruple-header working with Matt Vasgersian and Buster Olney.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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