ESPN Announces Plans for 2022 MLB Season, Including A-Rod “Manningcast”-Style Feed
ESPN is adding a new wrinkle to its MLB broadcast if and when the 2022 season gets underway.
Today, the company announced its new coverage strategy for “Sunday Night Baseball” as it begins the first year of its new rights seven-year rights agreement, which was extended back in May 2021. ESPN announced the signing of five-time World Series Champion and former Cy Young Award winner David Cone, who will leave YES Network to join Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez, forming the new “Sunday Night Baseball” booth.
Already missing Alex Rodriguez? Fear not. ESPN also announced the “Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod” an alternate broadcast that will pair World Series Champion and analyst Alex Rodriguez and YES Network play-by-play voice and ESPN Radio host Michael Kay. “Kay-Rod” will join forces on eight broadcasts throughout the season, coinciding with high-profile rivalry games, Yankees/Red Sox among them. According to ESPN, Rodriguez and Kay will appear on site for select games, while appearing live from their home studios for other games. Rodriguez and Kay will also serve as ESPN’s main broadcast team for two exclusive ESPN MLB regular-season games. There’s been no mention of any ESPN+ simulcasts or anything ESPN+-related for that matter.
Following the success of the “Manningcast,” ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” alternate broadcast starring Peyton and Eli Manning, ESPN is predictably adding alternate broadcasts wherever it can. While A-Rod’s charisma can be debated, there’s no denying ESPN gave him a great dance partner with Michael Kay. Unlike the Manningcast, which has been an overwhelming success despite the awkward transitions and audio troubles with guests, the Kay-Rod broadcast will be anchored by Kay who can help Rodriguez get his proverbial feet wet in this new role while having the knowledge of when to step back and let A-Rod go.
“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, executive vice president at ESPN. “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. 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. 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.”
The MLB and the MLB Player’s Association are still locked out with no ongoing discussions happening as of now. It remains to be seen if and when the 2022 season will actually begin. Pitchers and catchers are expected to report to Spring Training on February 14, 2022, with Spring League games starting February 26.