Could you imagine a Sunday Night Baseball booth that includes Alex Rodriguez or Joe Girardi? We can dare to dream now that ESPN will be forced to revamp its lead MLB broadcast team after the departure of two key members.
Analyst Aaron Boone reportedly took himself out of the booth on Friday after agreeing to become the new manager of the New York Yankees. His departure comes on the heels of Dan Shulman stepping down as the broadcast’s play-by-play man. That leaves analyst Jessica Mendoza and reporter Buster Olney as the remaining holdovers from the 2017 crew.
The challenge for ESPN now will be finding a couple of personalities who bring star power, perspective and a little charisma wouldn’t hurt either. We’ve already suggested some interesting names who we believe would fill Shulman’s role admirably. Now we’re ready to do the same for Boone’s spot, and to be honest we can’t get past those two names: Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi.
Given his success as a studio analyst on FOX Sports and the fact that he’s A-Rod, we’d probably put Rodriguez first on the wishlist. He oozes the star power and charisma we noted before, not to mention he brings an energy that caught us offguard at first. Everyone knew going in that A-Rod’s knowledge of the game was top notch, but not everyone can articulate that in front of a camera.
Given his controversial past where he didn’t always come across best with a microphone in his face, it was reasonable to wonder if A-Rod could pull it off. A year later there are no more doubts. A-Rod has proven he can. In fact, his first full year in broadcasting seemingly gained him more favor than anything he did on the field.
The problem for ESPN is that they’d have to pry him away from FOX with money they might not be willing to spend right now. In that case, why not Girardi? Prior to managing the Yankees he served as an analyst on YES Network. He can’t match A-Rod or even Boone’s personality, but it’s always fun hearing a guy come directly from the dugout hotseat to the booth. It provides great insight into the thought process that’s prevalent in the game currently.
Beyond that, we’d be lying if we said we wouldn’t enjoy the narrative of Boone and Girardi essentially changing places. Imagine the between inning interviews next year now that it’s Girardi asking the questions. It’s pretty fun to think about.
Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News is reporting that Girardi has an interest in returning to broadcasting. It seems safe to assume he’ll spend at least one year in the booth before getting back in the game, leaving the possibility here wide open.
Of course, ESPN has no shortage of in-house options to fill the void. We wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see a two-person booth either with Mendoza taking on a bigger role, and we wouldn’t be disappointed by that either.
What we do know is that there’s an opening now for some interesting changes and new combinations in the booth that at this time last year we never would have envisioned. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
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