As we mentioned very briefly yesterday, Peter Gammons has announced that after more than twenty years he's leaving ESPN at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. Shortly after the initial announcement, the predictable news broke that Gammons will be joining both MLBN and NESN.
First off, I have great respect and admiration for Peter Gammons. Many Yankee fans loathe the man for what they perceive to be blatant pro-Red Sox bias. Frankly, I don't see it. I find it akin to the anti-Yankee bias many find with Joe Buck or other on the national stage. Are we that accustomed to John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, and Michael Kay blowing sunshine up our ass that we can't stomach anything that's not definitively pro-Yankee?
Regardless, this isn't about other baseball journalists. I find Peter Gammons to be exceedingly genuine, and I think he's one of the best, if not the best ambassador the game has. Yes, I do find him to be somewhat Red Sox centric, but I don't consider it a bias, and I don't think it negatively impacts his work. Part of what appeals to me about Peter Gammons as a baseball analyst is that I find him to be genuine. That he's a fan of the game and someone who truly cares about baseball at large is evident in his work. Much of that is because in many ways Peter Gammons is still the kid he was growing up in Massachusetts as a big Red Sox fan. Even as a national baseball journalist, that's still part of who he is. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I'll take Gammons' slight bias as part of his character anyday - far better than the wooden delivery of Ken Rosenthal, the smarmy-ness of Jon Heyman, or even the smooth professionalism of guys like Tom Verducci and Buster Olney, who I actually like. Gammons is a fan who was fortunate enough to become one of the top journalists in the game. Isn't that what so many fans dream of doing?
Whatever your feelings on Gammons, this is a huge gain for MLBN. Let's face it, ESPN is becoming an absolute joke. It's about who's "now" or "next", or having an LA studio so Snoop or the Jonas Brothers can narrate the Top Ten each night. With Gammons gone now, Olney is the only baseball TV personality there I repsect. Most baseball fans have spent the past year raving about how good MLBN is, especially in comparison to ESPN and Baseball Tonight. This only further solidifies that position. ESPN is shifting more and more towards entertainment; MLBN is legitimate baseball analysis.
Yes MLBN has an advantage as a single sport network, and yes MLBN is not without their share of on-air morons, but I'll take MLBN over BBTN any day. In grabbing the likes of Costas, Verducci, even Rosenthal, and now Gammons, MLBN is truly making a mark for themselves.
Best of luck to Peter Gammons in his new endeavors. I certainly look forward to seeing him as part of the MLBN.