For years, national baseball fans have complained that Sunday Night Baseball features the Yankees too often.
Now, the league’s premier nationally televised broadcast will also sound more like a Yankees game.
ESPN announced on Friday that David Cone will be part of a revamped Sunday Night Baseball booth starting in 2022. Cone, who has been part of Yankee broadcasts on YES Network since 2011, will join Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez for the weekly primetime games. He is expected to remain with YES in a reduced role.
“I’m very honored to be a part of this great team of professionals and become part of the ESPN family,” Cone posted to his Twitter account on Friday.
The new hires come on the heels of Matt Vasgersian leaving ESPN. Vasgersian also does the play-by-play work on Angels’ games for Bally Sports West and regularly calls games for MLB Network. Vasgersian’s old partner, the inimitable Alex Rodriguez, is taking on a re-imagined role.
Per Ben Cafardo of ESPN corporate communications, A-Rod and Michael Kay will conduct their own broadcast on ESPN2 for eight of the Sunday Night Baseball games. Similar to the “Manningcast,” in which Peyton and Eli Manning host various guests for a less buttoned-up, sports bar-style broadcasts of Monday Night Football, “Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod” will provide an alternative viewing option that includes fantasy baseball banter, a smattering of analytics talk, and special guests of their own. Kay will stay in his current role at YES.
Rodriguez had been a color commentator on Sunday Night Baseball since 2018. Some of his highlights include coining a theory that even-run leads are better than odd numbered ones and a neverending yearning for bunts to make a comeback, despite being a steroid-tainted player who hit 696 home runs during his career. Jessica Mendoza, who shared the booth with Vasgersian and Rodriguez for two years, left before the 2020 season. It is currently unclear how Buster Olney, who has done the dugout reporting for Sunday Night Baseball for years, fits into ESPN’s gameday plans.
Cone, who pitched for both the Yankees and Mets during his 17-year MLB career, is known for being the most statistically-inclined person in the YES booth with Kay and Paul O’Neill. Perez comes from a similar background, having played 13 years in the bigs and spending the latest chapter of his life in the media. Perez is a regular participant in the ESPN2 StatCast broadcast, affectionately known as the Nerdcast, that gives viewers a more analytical perspective on Sunday Night Baseball. Ravech has been with ESPN since 1993 and will be the fourth play-by-play announcer in Sunday Night Baseball history, following Jon Miller, Dan Shulman and Vasgersian.
The new trio of announcers, on paper, feels like a welcome, modern upgrade. Depending on the network’s vision for A-Rod and Kay’s extravaganza, they could have another hit on their hands in a much different way.