ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball is getting a shakeup, but not one involving Alex Rodriguez. As Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported Tuesday, ESPN is “expected to keep” the much–criticized and curious–remark–filled Rodriguez in that role despite his contract being up. Instead, it’s play-by-play partner Matt Vasgersian who’s leaving to do more with MLB Network and the Los Angeles Angels (on Bally Sports West; he was named their lead announcer last year, but had to miss a lot of games due to his Sunday Night Baseball commitments). Vasgersian spoke to Marchand about the move on Wednesday:
“I decided to call it a wrap on ‘Sunday Night Baseball,’” Vasgersian said when reached by 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.”
Marchand lists a number of interesting figures as potential replacements for Vasgersian: Boog Sciambi, Karl Ravech, Jason Benetti, Michael Kay, Ryan Ruocco and Dave Flemming. All of those figures have done at least some work for ESPN (Kay not so much on the TV side, where he’s long worked for YES, but he has a radio show on ESPN New York), and all of them would seem to make some sense. Sciambi, Ravech, and Flemming in particular were mentioned as candidates in 2018, when Vasgersian was eventually chosen. But what’s interesting about that is that Marchand’s piece from that time spelled out that Vasgersian (who didn’t even work for ESPN at that point) was chosen because he was the preferred candidate for Rodriguez’s camp (which included discussions of him sharing an agent with Rodriguez):
Vasgersian received the job over longtime ESPNers Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Karl Ravech, as well as the voice of the Yankees, Michael Kay, according to sources.
It was the understanding of ESPN executives that Rodriguez and Vasgersian were a package deal, though it is unclear why A-Rod would care. The Big Lead described Vasgersian as A-Rod’s “preferred” candidate in early January, but there is no clear motive, other than the commonality of their agent. The duo have never called a game together and have had no known friendship.
But they wound up together for four seasons anyway. And it seems likely that Rodriguez will have significant say in who replaces Vasgersian, especially with his own contract also being up; if ESPN’s going to keep him, that necessitates a new deal, and that gives him some leverage. Beyond that, ESPN absolutely needs to find someone who fits well with Rodriguez, or any new partnership won’t last too long. We’ll see who they land on.