ESPN to pair Alex Rodriguez with Michael Kay on Manningcast-style Sunday Night Baseball show

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  • Álex Rodríguez
    Álex Rodríguez

Get ready to see plenty of Alex Rodriguez's living room.

Two days after the possibility was floated that ESPN could give Alex Rodriguez his own broadcast in the same vein as the Manning brother' successful "Monday Night Football" show, ESPN has announced it will be pairing the former MVP with Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay.

The name of the new program: "Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod."

The new broadcast will air alongside eight "Sunday Night Baseball" telecasts during the MLB regular season. The pair will work on site for some games, while appearing from home studios for others. They will also apparently be the main booth for two of the games.

The show will give Rodriguez, who has reportedly signed multi-year contract extension with ESPN, a familiar face to work with. Kay has been calling Yankees games since Rodriguez arrived in New York during his playing career. 

Together, their broadcast will reportedly integrate fantasy baseball, predictive analytics and special guests.

Normal 'Sunday Night Baseball' crew getting shaken up

With Rodriguez headed elsewhere and last year's play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian already out of "Sunday Night Baseball," we now figure to see an entirely new booth in 2022.

ESPN is turning to the in-house Eduardo Perez and YES Network's David Cone to fill the void left by Rodriguez, while "Baseball Tonight" mainstay Karl Ravech will take over the mic from Vasgersian. Buster Olney, Marly Rivera and Tim Kurkijan will reportedly make regular contributions as well.

Can the success of Peyton and Eli Manning be replicated in MLB?

Given how much buzz the Manning brothers have created just by sitting in their living rooms, you can't blame ESPN for trying to find a way to replicate their success in other sports. It's not a given they'll get it with Rodriguez and Kay, though, and the reasons why are already apparent.

At its core, the Manning broadcast features two players providing a unique perspective and chemistry. Where your standard broadcast features a play-by-play man calling out action and a former player or coach reacting, the Mannings will only react and discuss among each other and with a guest.

That's where the problems could start for "Kay-Rod." In trying to reproduce something unique, ESPN turned to something that could be very familiar: Kay, a play-by-play man, speaking with Rodriguez, a former player. Maybe Kay won't do his usual job of calling out plays, but it still feels like a missed opportunity that we won't hear Rodriguez speaking with another former player, particularly a pitcher who can break down that aspect of the game.

Both Mannings have been lauded for how serious and unserious things can get, going from a full tactical breakdown to needling each other and guests with plenty of viral moments in between. Their comedic timing was already well-known before getting their show.

Can Rodriguez and Kay joke around like two brothers while also providing serious breakdowns of what's happening on the field? It seems unlikely. Rodriguez may be a big name, but his time in the "Sunday Night Baseball" booth hasn't exactly done much for his reputation as an on-field analyst or comedian.

There's also the matter of how heavy this thing will skew toward the New York Yankees, between its former Yankees player and current Yankees broadcaster. That's never been an issue before for ESPN, though.

The Manningcast chemistry was always going to be difficult to replicate because of how rare its components are in other sports. Maybe "Kay-Rod" can succeed, but it's hard to see a smooth translation here.

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