Peter Gammons announced he was leaving ESPN today, and Ronald Blum of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported shortly thereafter that Gammons had already struck a deal to join MLB Network. Additionally, two sources told me today that Gammons will soon be joining NESN.
(What, you didn’t expect me to run this did you?)
Sources familiar with the Gammons negotiations with ESPN and MLB Network told me that MLB Net offered the longtime baseball writer more money than ESPN, and just as important, the ability to reduce travel. The 64-year-old had grown weary of commuting even to nearby Bristol, so he jumped at the opportunity to make more money while working closer to home in Boston and Cape Cod.
Still, for a guy so associated with one television network, it seems a little strange for him to be leaving ESPN. I was also told by the same sources that ESPN execs weren’t so upset at Gammons leaving the network for NESN, but were disturbed when word came down he was joining MLB Network.
ESPN has had a contentious relationship with baseball’s official television network since its recent launch, and the Gammons move will do nothing to calm the growing rivalry between the two outlets. Adding Gammons certainly is a major shot of credibility for the fledging baseball net, and an unavoidable embarrassment for the folks who helped establish Gammons as the country’s pre-eminent electronic media baseball reporter.
I was also told though that Gammons going to MLB Network was not intended as a shot at ESPN, it was just an opportunity he couldn’t pass up personally and professionally.
This is a logical move in that Gammons will do much more to drive ratings and revenue at MLB Net than he would at goliath ESPN. But that doesn’t mean the Bristol suits have to like the move.
I still have some feelers out on this situation, hoping to glean a few more perspectives on the matter from inside ESPN HQ. Stay tuned.