Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Orel Hershiser was a student of game with Bobby V.'s 1999 Mets
Here is a story I wrote for the newspaper about ESPN's new "Sunday Night Baseball" team and its existing "Monday Night Football" team:
Orel Hershisher was past his prime as a pitcher by the time he joined the Mets in 1999, but he was just in time to add to his baseball education.
On many nights when he wasn’t standing on the mound he would sit next to manager Bobby Valentine and quiz him on strategy, already looking toward a future in management, managing or media.
More than a decade later, the two will continue the conversation in a television booth as part of ESPN’s revamped “Sunday Night Baseball’’ roster, joining play-by-play man Dan Shulman.
“I know we’ve had great conversations already the public wishes they could have heard,’’ Hershiser said yesterday. “I can’t wait for that to be exposed on Sunday nights.’’
Hershisher is the lone holdover from last year. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan did not have their contracts renewed, ending a 21-year partnership.
(Miller declined an offer to switch to radio; the new Sunday radio team will be Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton. Dave Campbell did not have his contract renewed.)
Morgan’s departure created a spot for Valentine, who primarily has been a studio analyst. But first he was in the mix for several managerial openings (not including the Mets’).
“I was offered some managerial jobs and had a job at ESPN that I thought was much more rewarding and satisfying,’’ he said. “I think that was a great choice on my part.’’
(Valentine on Terry Collins: “I think he’ll be challenged by the situation and I think he’ll also challenge a lot of the players in uniform with him.’’)
Norby Williamson, an ESPN executive vice president, praised Miller and Morgan but indicated it was time for a change.
“Sometimes the challenge in this industry is to give fans what they want before they know what they want,’’ he said.
Williamson said he spoke to “Monday Night Football’’ analyst Jon Gruden yesterday and “absolutely’’ expects him to remain despite reports he might leave for the University of Miami.
“My feeling is Jon is in Year Two of a long-term contract and we expect Jon to be on ‘Monday Night Football’ doing what he is doing for a long time to come,’’ Williamson said.
Gruden issued a statement Sunday saying he was “committed’’ to ESPN, but reports surfaced Tuesday that he still was under consideration for the Miami job.
“Anybody who is accomplished and has an expertise is always going to be mentioned when these jobs come up,’’ said Williamson, adding the price paid in announcer turnover is worth it.
“Are you better off having these people when they’re here? The answer is yes.’’