A suggestion for ESPN's Live Baseball Coverage

James HulkaAnalyst IJuly 9, 2008

Joe Morgan - you may have World Series championship rings and MVP awards at home in your trophy case. You've earned them because you had a great baseball career, performed well both as an individual and as part of a team.

How you won an Emmy award for broadcasting I still have no idea.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching baseball, especially Sunday night when there's almost nothing else on TV. The coverage ESPN has of baseball is probably the best of any sport out there, Monday Night Football being perhaps the only exception.

I get a chance to watch a number of games from different markets, with different broadcasters, who have different styles, voices, personalities, and range from having national recognition all the way to barely recognized in their own markets.

I've come to this conclusion - ESPN needs to can Morgan and Miller.

I'm not saying Jon Miller is a terrible play-by-play guy. His energy sometimes is excellentand he's very inventive with his vocabulary creating excitement with some of his calls, and makes a concerted effort to pronounce players' names correctly.

On the flip side, he and Morgan get too lost in their own conversations and have tangents that seem to go nowhere. The energy at times is great, other times is way over-the-top. Like I said, he's not terrible. He can be great, terrible, and just average within one inning of a game. At least Chris Berman is funny the once or twice a year he calls a baseball game. The same can't be said for Miller and Morgan.

One more thing to point out - Morgan's analysis is terrible. If you kept track of his broadcasts, he might say 5 players in the game that night are "one of the best hitters in the American League". Joe Morgan's math is such that he'll call 30 or 40 different players among the five best in their league. Joe, didn't you learn how to count in the first grade?

The other thing I can't stand about these two is the mistakes they make each and every week. Sorry, Alex Rodriguez doesn't play shortstop for the Yankees. Chipper Jones did not sign with the Dodgers this offseason. Kaz Matsui did not leave the Astros to sign with the Rockies. While broadcasting a Red Sox game, don't say Kevin Youkilis is on first base after a single when you just saw that it was Dustin Pedroia and Youkilis is in the on-deck circle. If you make the mistake, correct it.

Broadcasters aren't perfect. But the better ones minimize their errors, provide insightful analysis, and when they do make an error, they'll say "Earlier I said Melky Cabrera was in left field - he is actually in center".

Which brings me to my recommendation for the new crew for Sunday Night Baseball - Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser.

Shulman is an even-keeled play-by-play announcer who knows his sports. He's got an easy voice and knows when do change his pitch without going overboard. He did the Sunday Night Baseball radio broadcasts for the last six years before Gary Thorne took over - so he's worked those games before, and I presume he now has Sunday night available.

Hershiser is a brilliant analyst who doesn't get to showcase his intelligence about the game enough. During games and in the Baseball Tonight studio he's as good a teacher of the details of the game as Buck Showalter, just a bit easier to listen to. If Greg Maddux is the first person you'd like to have teach you pitching, Hershiser would be a close #2.

If they decided to go with Dave O'Brien and Rick Sutcliffe, I wouldn't be upset with that choice either. Both of these pairs of broadcasters are more attentive to the games they broadcast in terms of knowledge, balancing the conversation between the play-by-play and the color analysis much better than Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

I don't see these changes being made, as ESPN hasn't changed the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting lineup in the entire 19-year history of the program. It's too bad because the national audience would be better off with one of ESPN's other broadcast teams, as long as they leave Steve Phillips back in Bristol.