First, our prayers go out again to Ernie Johnson Jr, who won’t be part of the TBS MLB postseason calling games or manning the studio. A month after the passing of his father, former MLB pitcher and play-by-play man Ernie Johnson Sr., and four years removed from his own battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, E.J. will pass on doing games starting this week because of a new family matter.
His 23-year-old son, Michael, has been coping with muscular dystrophy and has been hospitalized in intensive care for the last two weeks. Ernie and his wife, Cheryl, will take time now to be with Michael, who was adopted from Romania.
Jeff Behnke, Turner Sports’ executive producer, made the announcement on a conference call this morning with reporters. He also gave out the four broadcast teams that will begin dong games with the ALDS on Friday (unless there’s a one-game playoff for a wildcard spot to be played Thursday):
== Brian Anderson, left, the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers since 2007, will do lead play-by-play now, with analysts Ron Darling and John Smoltz, on whatever series the New York Yankees are involved in, as well as the NLCS round that follows. The 40-year-old Anderson called Roy Halladay’s post-season no-hitter last season and has done many TBS Sunday afternoon broadcasts.
== Dick Stockton , a longtime Turner employee, will for some reason continue to be with Bob Brenly, likely on the top NLDS matchup (think Philadelphia vs. whomever).
== Don Orsillo, with the Boston Red Sox, will be paired with Buck Martinez, perhaps on a Red Sox series. There’s nothing to preclude that from happening.
== And Victor Rojas, who has been with the Angels’ on FSW for the last two seasons, will be paired with Joe Simpson on the “fourth team” doing whatever series is deemed apparently less appealing.
Uh, OK …
== Also, Craig Sager, Tom Verducci, KCAL/KCBS anchor/reporter Jaime Maggio and Sam Ryan of the MLB Network will be on site at games as reporters.
Behnke said it in regards to why someone like the Dodgers’ 83-year-old Hall of Famer Vin Scully, Bob Costas or the New York Mets’ Gary Cohen weren’t included in the mix:
“I’ll just blanket it by saying we looked at and considered everyone. Sure, there are legendary voices out there and unbelievable broadcasters, but it’s more of a factor of scheduling conflicts and availability. When you go through the process and hit all the points we need to go through with our decisions, that’s what we’ve done and we feel comfortable whith where we’ve landed.
“They’re all great voices — and Vin is the legend of all legends.”
So, not even a consideration of having him work a couple of innings on any of the four series? Or is he free to play golf this winter?
“That’s probably hard to do in the middle innings, and even harder with L.A. not being in the playoffs,” said Behnke. “Look, if we were in L.A. and he was available, absolutely we’d do something. The fans love him and baseball people would love him as they always have.”
But not enough to even submit an inquiry, apparently. But they were able to ask Rojas, who would be included even if the Angels had been in the playoffs. Rojas was added originally as a sideline reporter but promoted once Johnson couldn’t make it.
Despite the online petition launched in June to persuade Fox to include Scully in their World Series coverage (linked here) — there are more than 7,600 signatures and it has Joe Buck’s blessing (linked here) — there seems to be nothing new with that angle.
When we asked Scully about whether Fox had asked about the possibility, and whether he’d be open to it, he replied: “No to all questions. I plan to shut up for a while.”
The TBS schedule could start with a Thursday wildcard game. Here are the scenarios the network offered today:
1:07 p.m. — A.L. wildcard tiebreaker: Boston at Tampa Bay
5:07 p.m. — N.L. wildcard tiebreaker: Atlanta at St. Louis
1:07 p.m. — ALDS Game 1: Boston or Tampa Bay at Texas or Detroit
5:37 p.m. — ALDS Game 1: Detroit or Texas at New York