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A-Rod and Vasgergian Join Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN

Jason Barrett

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Invoke whichever sports phrase you wish but since this is baseball related news we’re going to keep it simple – ESPN hit a home run! The network has reached an agreement with FOX Sports which will allow them to feature Alex Rodriguez on Sunday Night Baseball. Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News first reported the possibility on January 6th.

Ironically, A-Rod takes over the position previously held by Aaron Boone who left to go manage the New York Yankees, Rodriguez’s former team. A-Rod previously replaced Boone as the Yankees third baseman in 2004 after Boone injured himself in a pickup basketball game.

The arrangement between ESPN and FOX will allow A-Rod to work “Sunday Night Baseball” during the regular season and remain involved on Fox Sports as a playoff analyst during the postseason. Fox Sports and TBS hold the TV rights for postseason play.

Joining Rodriguez on the Sunday Night broadcast to call the action will be Matt Vasgergian. The network chose the Fox and MLB Network play by play announcer to fill Dan Shulman’s vacant seat over internal candidates Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Karl Ravech. Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead first reported ESPN’s interest in him. Despite Vasgergian’s addition to the Sunday Night crew, he’s expected to remain involved as an announcer and studio host on the MLB Network.

The two holdovers to the broadcast team are analyst Jessica Mendoza and reporter Buster Olney.

According to a Fox source which spoke to the Sporting News, the talent-sharing relationship became a possibility after Disney agreed to pay $60 billion for the majority of 21st Century Fox’s assets. Part of that transaction included taking control of Fox’s regional sports networks. ESPN sources though say the Disney-Fox business deal didn’t factor into adding A-Rod.

Regardless of who’s telling the truth or how it happened, Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN just became a lot more interesting with A-Rod involved in the telecast.

Sports TV News

ESPN Could Still Land Some Big Ten Media Rights

“We’ll continue to be good partners with them in a slightly different way than we have.”

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ESPN, BIG TEN

The Big Ten announced the conference’s newest slate of media rights deals on Thursday. The conference confirmed it has partnered with NBC, CBS and FOX for the next seven years. The one glaring outsider is ESPN. However, even though the two may have parted ways after this current media rights deal has expired, there may still be a way to see Big Ten products on ESPN.

In an article from Pat Forde from Sports Illustrated, sources indicate to him the network may still be able to ink an agreement to carry Big Ten contests as a sublicensee. He notes the most likely sport that would happen in is men’s basketball.

“We have one more year with them,” Warren said of ESPN and the 2022–23 season. “They’re professionals, we’re professionals, and we’ve had a close relationship with them for a long time.”

“I don’t think we expect this will be the end of the relationship. We’ll continue to be good partners with them in a slightly different way than we have.”

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Sports TV News

Roxy Bernstein: ‘Bill Walton’s Persona Is An Entertaining Act’

“But Bill, I think this is good simulation for him.”

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One of the enduring broadcast themes of college basketball season is Bill Walton’s calling Pac-12 games and doing so with a but of an untethered flare. Roxy Bernstein, one of Walton’s broadcast partners, says it’s a deliberate attempt to be interesting.

“I think people see this caricature on television,” Bernstein said. “Let me clue you in on a secret and pull back the curtain here: it’s an act.”

Bernstein made these comments as a guest on Announcer Schedules the Podcast. He talked about Walton’s style being one that suits him to satisfy his own happiness.

“If he wanted to be a cookie-cutter analyst, he’s done that. He could do it,” commented Bernstein. “But Bill, I think this is good simulation for him. His ability to inform the audience and make it a well-rounded broadcast, to culture the audience so there’s just laser-focused in on this game.”

Bernstein also noted that when you see Walton and his play-by-play partner for the first time on television, it’s often the first time they are speaking to each other.

“He never opens the door to what is going to happen that night,” said Bernstein. “Essentially the first conversation of that day that we are having is, ‘Hi, welcome to Pauley Pavilion. Along with the Hall of Famer Bill Walton, I’m Roxy Bernstein’. That’s the first time we are really talking all day.”

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Sports TV News

Michael Grady Named Play-By-Play Announcer of the Minnesota Timberwolves

“Today is a thrilling day for myself and my family as this has been my lifelong dream to be an NBA play-by-play announcer,” said Grady.

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Michael Grady

The Minnesota Timberwolves, in partnership with Bally Sports North, named Michael Grady as their new television play-by-play announcer.

Grady, 39, will partner with color analyst Jim Petersen.

“Michael’s extensive knowledge of the game and his genuine on-air style make him the perfect fit for this role,” said Timberwolves & Lynx Chief Executive Officer Ethan Casson. “As Michael returns to his Midwest roots, we couldn’t be more excited to have his voice on the call for Timberwolves games for seasons to come.”

Grady spent the last six years with the YES Network as the Brooklyn Nets courtside reporter. He does have previous NBA television play-by-play experience including work with the New York Liberty, Turner Sports, NBATV and the 2022 WNBA Commissioners Cup. He also sas called play-by-play for college basketball and college football games for CBS.

“Today is a thrilling day for myself and my family as this has been my lifelong dream to be an NBA play-by-play announcer,” said Grady. “I can’t wait to join Jim Petersen and the rest of the Bally Sports North crew calling games for this exciting franchise. I also look forward to interacting with our phenomenal Timberwolves fans and partners in the community to continue to tell the stories of this great basketball state.”

“Michael’s unique background and basketball acumen will serve him well in his new role,” said Executive Producer for Bally Sports North Tony Tortorici. “Fans will enjoy his smooth delivery for this exciting new era of Timberwolves basketball and he will be a great compliment to longtime Timberwolves analyst Jim Petersen.”

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