Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So long, Joe Morgan and Jon Miller

It should be no surprise that ESPN has dumped Joe Morgan from it's "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast. Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman and member of Cincinnati's famed Big Red Machine, had been on probation with the network, especially since Orel Hershiser came in as a third party to the Sunday night booth last year.

Morgan, 67, had a tendency to irritate viewers with statements that would imply that he was right and everyone else was wrong. Miller, who also is in the Hall of Fame as an announcer and does some broadcasts of San Francisco Giants games, is one of the better play-by-play callers around and he reportedly has been offered to work games on ESPN radio.

ESPN would love to have its Sunday Night Baseball telecast mirror NBC's Sunday Night Football show, which is a TV ratings juggernaut. The problem with ESPN matching NBC's Sunday night bonanza is that baseball saturates the airwaves during the summer. Turn on the TV on a hot August night and there are no less than 10 games available to watch, especially if the viewer has a microwave dish on his roof. Unless the Yankees are playing the Red Sox or the Dodgers are playing Giants, ESPN's Sunday Night game brings up the end of a long day's lineup.

While NBC, CBS, FOX, TNT and TBS use the traditional two-announcer crews at the majority of their televised events, ESPN seems to think that the three-talkers-in-the booth strategy is the way to go, as is evident from the chatterboxes who call the network's Monday Night Football games--Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and John Gruden--and also for its NBA telecasts.

If ESPN wants to improve on its Sunday Night baseball telecasts, having Hershiser as a color commentator is a good start, but it needs somebody of the caliber of Al Michaels or Joe Buck to do the play-by-play to complete the team.

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