Report: ESPN Considering Giving Alex Rodriguez His Own “Manning Cast” Show During “Sunday Night Baseball”
ESPN is looking to repeat after scoring a hit with Peyton and Eli Manning’s MegaCast during "Monday Night Football"
After scoring a hit with Peyton and Eli Manning’s Monday Night Football MegaCast, ESPN is considering doubling down with that recipe for success and giving Alex Rodriguez his own version of the “Manning Cast” during the network’s Sunday Night Baseball coverage, according to The New York Post.
Were that to happen, it would mean a further shake-up in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth, which is already going to be missing play-by-play broadcaster Matt Vasgersian, who already left to work with the MLB Network and take an expanded role doing regional Los Angeles Angels telecasts.
The last game Rodriguez and Vasgersian worked together, this season’s Wild Card matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, drew an average of 7.7 million viewers, ESPN’s highest-rated baseball telecast the network has had since 1998 when Mark McGwire hit his then record-tying 61st home run in front of a television audience of 10.6 million.
That success wasn’t enough to keep Vasgersian in the booth or sufficient to keep The Worldwide Leader from considering moving A-Rod out of it for his own spinoff of the traditional SNB broadcast that would air on ESPN2 while the original aired on ESPN as usual.
Rodriguez, 46, reportedly favors YES Network’s Michael Kay as the play-by-play replacement for Vasgersian, but ESPN is leaning toward installing longtime studio analyst Karl Ravech in that role. Should Rodriguez depart the booth for his own show, there’s a possibility the SNB booth will consist of Ravech with David Cone and Eduardo Perez as the color analysts.
Rodriguez, who also has a role as a Fox MLB studio analyst and does a Barstool Sports podcast, has worked at ESPN for four years, but has had more success in the studio at Fox. “This is partly why some ESPN executives think an A-Rodcast might work,” according to The Post. “The look and feel of a potential A-Rodcast might not mirror what the Mannings do. ESPN has been producing alternative broadcasts for many years, so Rodriguez’s shows could have their own wrinkles.”
Last week, Boston Globe columnist Peter Abraham opined that ESPN would be wise not to end its Manning Cast concept after the current NFL season.
“ESPN has had great success with Peyton and Eli Manning jabbering away on ESPN2 while watching Monday Night Football,” he wrote. “ESPN or Fox should try the same thing with baseball. Get a few colorful former players — Dustin Pedroia, Torii Hunter, and Pedro Martinez come to mind — to watch the game together and talk. Maybe throw in an injured player from one of the teams playing that night. Chris Sale watched the first four months of last season from the dugout. It would have been fun to listen to him talk pitching during a game.”
Perhaps ESPN was listening.
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