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ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" turns into the "A-Rod and J-Lo Show."

By Jimmy Traina
July 29, 2019

1. The very last thing ESPN wants to do on Sunday night is show you an actual baseball game. That's too dull and boring, so it's all about spicing up the broadcast with bells and whistles.

Fortunately for the Worldwide Leader, its top analyst is dating one of the most famous, popular and gorgeous women on earth. And, oh my goodness, has ESPN milked the Alex Rodriguez-Jennifer Lopez relationship for all it's worth.

The network has made sure to show her giving him a kiss in the booth.

They made sure to show her sitting near A-Rod when the broadcast crew called a game from the seats in Houston. (Remember, this is Sunday Night Baseball. Why on Earth would the broadcast crew actually call the game from, you know, the broadcast booth? Gotta have those bells and whistles!)

Play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian made sure to tell stupid stories about J-Lo during a broadcast while she sat near the crew at Fenway Park as they called a game from the Green Monster seats.

And then, of course, there was Sunday night. J-Lo crashed the booth to give A-Rod the saddest looking birthday cake for his birthday. How sad was it? Nobody even ate it.

Back to ESPN for a moment. While there is this narrative that the A-Rod comeback story is this unbelievable sensation, if you open your eyes, you can see that this is a media creation. He's on ESPN more for the freak show/name recognition aspect than his popularity with fans. He's on FOX because they'll hire just about any reclamation project. But fans across America have not become huge Alex Rodriguez fans, despite what the media tells you.

And the combination of A-Rod's personality with ESPN's insistence on making Sunday Night Baseball all about him has not gone over well with viewers. Here's what happened Sunday night when ESPN set up the bit in which J-Lo came into the booth with a cake for A-Rod.

Yes, please, give me more of the narrative that A-Rod is such a huge fan favorite these days.

Oh, and hi, Bill Simmons.

2. With the Phillies going retro on Saturday and wearing spectacular jerseys, SportsCenter went retro as well for its highlights segment of Philadelphia's game against Atlanta and it was very cool.

3. Madison Bumgarner gave us a great moment Sunday, not with this pitching, but with a plate appearance that ended in a strikeout. Only he had no clue he had whiffed.

4. Todd Gurley would like the media to stop injuring his knee.

The Rams running back told reporters Sunday, “it’s good" in reference to his injured knee, before adding, “Y’all have got to stop putting this bad energy in my knee, man. Just let it be."

5. Noah Syndergaard continues to have fun with trade rumors.

6. According to The Rock, WWE superstar Roman Reigns almost killed a camera operator on the set of Hobbs & Shaw.

7. If you want even more coverage of the ESPN vs. Dan Le Batard saga, check out the latest SI Media Podcast wtih New York Post sports columnist Andrew Marchand. We went in-depth on the topic. What was Le Batard's biggest mistake? Why did ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro choose not to suspend Le Batard? What does Le Batard's future at ESPN look like? Should all sports shows have a "no politics talk" policy? We tackled all those questions and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play.

8. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: "No Life Shaq" has been getting a lot of attention this past week. If you're not familiar with his schtick, he watches videos/listens to songs for the first time and reacts. Here's his latest piece of work.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

IN CLOSING: The A.J. Green injury story is pretty wild, even for the Bengals.

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