Major League Baseball’s new cable channel, MLB Network, officially announced today the hiring of Matt Vasgersian as a studio host and anchor of the signature nightly studio show — think of him as same what Rich Eisen does for the NFL Network — when it launches on Jan. 1.
A 41-year-old USC grad, Vasgersian (Wikipedia link here, including the bleak background blemish of him being the first XFL broadcaster for NBC in 2001) has been the Padres’ TV play-by-play man since 2002. Many in the baseball industry considering him the eventual replacement for his hometown Dodgers once Hall of Famer Vin Scully decides it’s time to walk away. Scully has reportedly told some close to him to prepare for that to happen after the 2009 season — which would be his 60th with the franchise.
Vasgersian, who also has done Fox Sports baseball and did five seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers, will move back to New York for this assignment. The studio in Secaucus, New Jersey, will host the show live starting at 3 p.m. PDT until the last MLB game of the night from Monday through Saturday, going with live look-ins of games in progress. A show called “Hot Stove,” also hosted by Vasgersian, will run at 4 p.m. PDT Monday through Friday during the offseason.
In an email this morning, Vasgersian, currently doing regional NFL games for Fox and a broadcaster for NBC during the last three Olympics, said that he was “thrilled to be in this from the ground level – MLB has put some great people in place already and that made it a pretty easy call for me … the only downside to this new gig is leaving So Cal and giving up my football seat at Fox. I’m hoping that after I settle in I’ll be able to do a few Saturday baseball assignments and an occassional football game when they’ve got a 7 or 8 game weekend. I’m pretty excited about the job, just wish it was in L.A. or S.D.”
The key to this job, and why it may not be fair to continue mentioning him as a Scully replacement, is Vasgersian’s personal-life decision to want to cut down on the constant baseball travel grind. In today’s San Diego Union-Tribune (linked here), Vasgersian, who has been a team broadcaster for the last 18 years on the minor- and major-league level, said: “I love the fact I’ll be off the road now. I’ve been pushing in that direction, to do fewer games that were travel games.”
“Matt’s experience behind the mic, his ability to carry a broadcast and his enthusiasm for baseball make him ideally suited to serve as the ‘voice of MLB Network,’” said Tony Petitti, MLB Network CEO, in a statement.
So who are the candidates to replace Vasgersian with the Padres? Plenty of talent in Southern California to choose from.