ESPN Changes ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ Lineup, Gives A-Rod a Manning-Like Telecast

Alex Rodriguez ESPN
Alex Rodriguez (Image credit: ESPN)

ESPN said it was shaking up its baseball announcing lineup and setting up an alternative game broadcast on ESPN2 featuring former highest-paid player Alex Rodriguez.

Former New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees pitcher David Cone will be joining ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth alongside play-by-play man Karl Ravech and analyst Eduardo Perez.

The changes come as ESPN begins a new rights deal with Major League Baseball.

Rodriguez will be joined by YES Network’s Michael Kay eight games this season for a special presentation dubbed Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod.

The alternative broadcast is modeled on ESPN’s successful “ManningCast,” which successfully launched on ESPN2 this season, with former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning providing alternative commentary opposite Monday Night Football.

The Kay-Rod games will feature top matchups — Yankees-Red Sox — as well as fantasy baseball, predictive analysis and special guests, ESPN said. 

Also: ESPN To Close Out NFL Season with New Saturday Doubleheader

“As we begin our next chapter of baseball coverage, we aim to maximize the value of this new rights agreement by prioritizing innovation and compelling storytelling,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive VP and executive editor, production.

We welcome David Cone to ESPN and believe he and Eduardo Perez will offer a master class in contemporary analysis, including Statcast-driven data and discussion,” Williamson said. ”Karl Ravech, who has been our ‘Mr. Baseball’ for three decades, will lead the booth with the command and credibility that he’s displayed throughout his career.

“I’m equally excited for the duo of Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay to team up and offer fans a new, engaging experience,” he added. ”The innovative Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod presentations will be informative and entertaining and play a crucial role in our overall Sunday Night Baseball content offerings. We’re grateful for the collaboration with the YES Network and look forward to starting the 2022 season.”

If the MLB Wild Card Series returns in 2022, the event will be fully exclusive to ESPN platforms and both new commentator teams will contribute to coverage. ■ 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.