1. Whether we're in a pandemic or not, whether we're having a real baseball season or a fake 60-game season, whether you've yearned for baseball's return or not, one thing remains the same: If Alex Rodriguez is calling a game for ESPN, ESPN wants the telecast to be The Alex Rodriguez Show.
There are three problems with that. One, people tuning in want to see the game, not The Alex Rodriguez Show. Two, A-Rod isn't the right person to handle that job unless you subscribe to the theory that even bad publicity is good publicity. Three, most baseball fans don't like A-Rod.
That brings us to Thursday night's Yankees-Nationals game, where A-Rod embarrassed himself at least twice.
As a bettor, I thought A-Rod's most egregious moment was calling the Astros, who have the third-best odds in baseball to win the World Series, his "sleeper" pick.
The Astros, who won 100 games and were in the World Series last season, are 11-to-1 to win it all in 2020. The Dodgers and Yankees are 7-to-2. A-Rod somehow thinks Houston is a sleeper. This is not how "sleepers" work.
However, the moment that got most viewers up in arms was A-Rod, who is in the process of trying to buy the Mets, smooching up to commissioner Rob Manfred during an interview.
The same Manfred who basically admitted to negotiating in bad faith during the pandemic, when he said MLB was never going to play more than 60 games this season.
I actually don't blame A-Rod for this one. He's doing what any human being would do if they were in that position. The fault for this conflict of interest falls on ESPN. The network should know better than to have someone who is trying to buy into MLB interview the commissioner.
Let's be honest. No matter who interviews Manfred on ESPN during the first baseball game of the season, it's going to be fluff and softball stuff. But the obvious conflict of interest wouldn't be a factor.
ESPN could've avoided all this negative press by simply having Buster Olney do the interview with Manfred, but like I already said, ESPN wants any game involving A-Rod to be The Alex Rodriguez Show.
Fans don't want that, but clearly, ESPN doesn't care.
2. All of these people who have issues with A-Rod's broadcasting better prepare themselves for more A-Rod. With baseball announcing Thursday that it has expanded the postseason to 16 teams, ESPN announced it will televise seven of the eight first-round series. As the network noted in a press release, 14-21 first-round games, including all four National League series, will air on ESPN from Tuesday, Sept., 29 through Friday, Oct. 2.
3. The news of WFAN's Mike Francesa leaving the station yet again is just a big shoulder shrug at this point. Fake retirements, comebacks, overpriced app, copyright controversies. ... This should not have been how a radio legend goes out.
4. Dodgers utility player Kike Hernández went 4-for-5 with a home run, five RBIs and two runs scored in Los Angeles' 8–1 win against San Francisco last night. However, his best moment of the night came after the game when he gave us this quote.
5. This week's episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features an interview with Joe Buck. The longtime Fox play-by-play broadcaster talks about calling baseball games during the pandemic, how he and John Smoltz will be calling games this season and how comfortable he would feel being at a ballpark. Buck also revealed why he likes the new rule in which a runner will be put on second base to start extra innings and discussed other changes for the season, including cardboard cutouts of fans in stands and piped-in crowd noise. Other topics include the online haters, Fox's NFL schedule, why athletes are comfortable with Andy Cohen and Howard Stern, and much more.
6. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Yes, Dr. Fauci's first pitch in Washington Thursday night was a disaster, but Baba Booey's botch job will always be our favorite bad first pitch. Especially after the Howard Stern Show gave it the 30 for 30 treatment.
7. SPORTS VIDEO OF THE DAY: We started with A-Rod. We end with A-Rod. On this date in 2004, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek had had enough of the Yankees slugger.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.