There is no baseball on the horizon as the lockout between MLB and the MLBPA continues in earnest. This means the only relevant thing to talk about is baseball media. That sound you hear is the loud roar of dozens who are excited about this development.
The latest comes from the ever-reliable Andrew Marchand, who reports ESPN is thinking about trying to transition the success of the ManningCast to its MLB broadcasts. Specifically, the network is considering giving Alex Rodriguez his own version of the ManningCast for Sunday Night Baseball. Per the New York Post:
ESPN is considering a Manningcast-type broadcast for Alex Rodriguez as it reshuffles its “Sunday Night Baseball” coverage, The Post has learned.
It is not yet clear how the alternative broadcasts would be presented and how many there would be. The Mannings, for example, only do 10 of the 17 weeks of “Monday Night Football.”
Rodriguez spent this past season as the color commentator for ESPN’s marquee MLB broadcast every week.
It was fairly predictable that ESPN would see how the ManningCast format worked in other ways. It may very well be the case that Peyton and Eli are unique personalities in a unique setup and the success is not translatable. It may be tough for A-Rod to find the same level of success as the Manning brothers did, given he is a far divisive personality in the eyes of baseball fans than Peyton and Eli are for football fans.
But a marquee name is a marquee name, and Rodriguez is famous enough to draw eyeballs. The big question is who he’d be with each week. There isn’t a natural second out there to be his Eli. He and David Ortiz have great chemistry but are FOX colleagues, not ESPN colleagues. And a full broadcast doesn’t really seem like something Ortiz would be interested in unless it was Red Sox-Yankees. A-Rod could not have a second host and just go for a rotating cadre of guests, but part of what makes the ManningCast work is how the brothers fill the time between guests. It isn’t the guest appearances that make it so popular.
The skeleton of this whole idea — take a famous athlete or two and throw them in front of a camera on an alternate broadcast and let them riff — is simple in theory but complex in execution. How ESPN and other networks attempt to mix and match different personalities to come up with the same result will be interesting to watch. From the sounds of it, A-Rod might be the first guinea pig. Depending on when the labor strike ends, that is.