Mike Pereira has become a fixture for NFL viewers as Fox’s rules analyst, and in recent years has expanded that role to work Fox’s college broadcasts as well.
It turns out that he almost added an entirely different sport. In a recent appearance on Bay Area radio show Papa & Lund, Pereira revealed that Fox almost had him work as an MLB rules analyst, which would have involved sending Pereira to umpire school. Ultimately, though, MLB exec Joe Torre “nixed” the idea, for an obvious reason.
“Not too long after I started, maybe three or four years after I started, the sport that was missing this role was baseball. So Fox, when they signed their new deal with baseball, asked me if I wanted to do baseball.
“They asked if I wanted to do it and go to umpire school to learn the rules. I decided, O.K., I will do it. I’ll go to the baseball school. I will come up and learn the rules so that I can do this role and I actually talked to some umpires and a couple of people in the umpire department in New York and Major League Baseball. But Joe Torre put the nix on it. He nixed me. He said we don’t want a guy being our rules specialist who’s never umpired.”
That makes sense from the league’s perspective! Obviously having former officials work as rules analysts doesn’t always pan out (sorry, Mike Carey), but it’s another thing entirely to have someone with a background in an entirely different sport in a highly visible role that could see them contradicting your own umpires.
Pereira went on to note that Fox approached former umpires, but never ended up hiring one.
In the end, really, it’s hard to see how it would have worked out. Baseball isn’t football, from a rules interpretation perspective. Most games don’t include situations that require an explanation to the audience; even plays that are reviewed now are pretty easy for fans to judge at home. Did he tag him or not? Was the ball caught or trapped? We all have eyes, and while we don’t always have access to some of the angles replay review umpires have, it’s unclear whether a booth analyst would either.
Considering a rules analyst wouldn’t be bringing much to the booth for baseball, it’s for the best they decided not to force it.