ESPN today announced that Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone will join Dan Shulman and Buster Olney to form the new Sunday Night Baseball team, beginning this spring. The quartet will make its regular-season debut on Opening Night, April 3, for the Mets-Royals World Series rematch at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Today’s announcement also included new assignments for ESPN MLB analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk.
Front Row discussed these news items with ESPN’s Executive Vice President, Programming & Production John Wildhack.
What was the thought process behind creating a new Sunday Night Baseball team?
As is the case with all ESPN properties, we continue to look for new ways to provide the best coverage and the best viewer experience. We’ve also continued to re-imagine the way MLB is covered in recent years. Heading into 2016, we’re confident this new Sunday Night Baseball team will provide a fresh perspective on the game, while most importantly, being supported by highly-credible, intelligent analysis – the kind that fans have grown to expect from ESPN.
What factors were important when evaluating Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone for their new roles?
Jessica made history in 2015, and most importantly, showed she belonged in a prominent role on ESPN’s MLB coverage. Her stellar analysis and undisputed credibility, combined with the instant chemistry she formed with booth-mates, made it clear she has earned this spot on Sunday Night Baseball going forward. As for Aaron, he’s done tremendous work as both a game and a studio analyst on virtually every baseball platform we offer. He’s smart, engaging, funny and quick-witted at the right times, and thoroughly loves and enjoys the game of baseball.
How do you describe Curt Schilling’s new role?
Curt will continue to be featured on an important property for ESPN – Monday Night Baseball – in 2016. Under our new rights agreement, we generally have full national Monday telecasts and Curt will help strengthen the show. Curt has established himself as one of the most honest, candid voices in baseball, and he’ll continue to provide both game and studio analysis to help continue to make those platforms better.
In what ways will John Kruk continue to make an impact this season?
John is a veteran analyst, who made a great mark on the studio side for several years, a role that suits him very well. We appreciate John’s contributions to Sunday Night Baseball over the past couple of seasons, and we look forward to his analysis, now to be featured more regularly, on Baseball Tonight.