Matt Vasgersian Is Stepping Out of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” Booth
Alex Rodriguez needs a new partner
Alex Rodriguez, who may or may not have gotten a bit too comfortable providing color commentary in the Sunday Night Baseball booth for ESPN, needs a new teammate.
According to The New York Post, play-by-play provider Matt Vasgersian has informed ESPN executives that he is leaving his position on Sunday Night Baseball in order to focus on a deal with the MLB Network and possibly expand his work doing regional Los Angeles Angels telecasts.
“I decided to call it a wrap on Sunday Night Baseball,” Vasgersian, who was teamed with Rodriguez for four years, told The Post. “I can’t do everything I enjoy with MLB Network and the Angels, while still being away for nearly 30 weekends a year.”
In an interesting twist, Vasgersian’s last game for ESPN was the highest-rated baseball telecast the network has had since the day Mark McGwire hit his then record-tying 61st home run during the 1998 season in front of an ESPN audience of 10.6 million. When Vasgersian and Rodriguez called Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, an average of 7.7 million viewers were tuning in on ESPN and ESPN2 and the matchup peaked with 8.4 million viewers from 10:15-10:30 p.m. ET.
That audience share propelled ESPN to “win the night across all of television, including broadcast and cable,” according to the network.
“Additionally, it was the most-streamed MLB event ever on ESPN platforms with 73.6 million minutes consumed digitally,” per The Worldwide Leader. “ESPN and ESPN2’s presentation of the game delivered a 19.8 rating in the Boston market, making it the most-watched Red Sox game on ESPN platforms since 2009. In the New York market, it delivered an 11.2 rating which is the best rating for a Yankees game on ESPN platforms since 2017.”
Back to Vasgersian, potential replacements for the 54-year-old include Jon “Boog” Sciambi, Karl Ravech, Jason Benetti, Michael Kay, Ryan Ruocco and Dave Flemming. David Cone, who did a game with A-Rod and Michael Kay on the YES Network a few years ago, is another possibility.
“Cone is the best MLB analyst we listen to, combining old-school and new-school thoughts and a sense of television,” per The Post. “Rodriguez would be aided by a Cone, or someone of his ilk, because, to use a pitching phrase, A-Rod doesn’t have enough stuff to call a complete game. This has left Vasgersian to have to do more heavy lifting in his play-by-play.”
As for McGwire, he finished the ’98 season with 70 home runs, followed by Sammy Sosa with 66. Barry Bonds went on to break McGwire’s record for home runs in a season when he hit 73 in 2001.
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