Behind The ScenesMLB

O’s return to Sunday Night Baseball spotlight under former ESPN analyst Buck Showalter’s guidance

Buck Showalter impressed a lot of folks at ESPN during his time with the network. (ESPN Images)
Buck Showalter impressed a lot of folks at ESPN during his time with the network. (ESPN Images)

Since 1990, ESPN has been committed to serving baseball fans by showcasing the best teams, biggest stars and fiercest rivalries on Sunday Night Baseball, the exclusive national Major League Baseball game of the week.

One team that’s played its way back into the national conversation is the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles last competed on Sunday Night Baseball against the New York Yankees on September 21, 2008 — the final game at the old Yankee Stadium. This Sunday, the O’s visit the Yankees again, this time at the new Stadium. It will be the first meeting of the AL East rivals since New York knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs last year.

Showalter on set for ESPN (ESPN Images)
Buck Showalter on set for ESPN (ESPN Images)

After an incredible 2012 campaign that saw the O’s reach the American League Divisional Series, they’re poised for a repeat performance with an exciting crop of young stars, led by battle-tested manager and former ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Buck Showalter.

Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions, talks about the Orioles’ national appeal, while Jay Levy, senior coordinating producer, shares memories of working with Showalter during the MLB skipper’s two stints as an ESPN analyst (2001-02 and 2008-2010).

When did ESPN start considering the Orioles for a spot on this season’s Sunday Night Baseball schedule?
Sobieski: We’re all baseball fans at ESPN, so we’re paying close attention to every team, including the Orioles. After seeing what they accomplished last season, we knew they were a team Major League Baseball fans wanted to watch in 2013. We aim to provide the most compelling matchups and teams to our viewers and this Orioles game against the Yankees — the team that beat them last season — should be a great game.

What are your memories of Buck Showalter as a Baseball Tonight analyst?
Levy: I’ve worked on many sports here including football, basketball and baseball, and there have been few better to watch a game with than Buck. He saw the game of baseball differently than everybody else. I remember he used to look at the way the outfield grass and infield grass was cut and tell you how it would impact the game. There was nothing like seeing Buck watch a game.

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