On any given Sunday during baseball season, you might catch ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk doing a segment called “The Best Seat In The House,” in which he forages to find the best fan seating in a stadium.
Beginning next year, you might say that Kruk will already be claiming it himself.
ESPN has announced that the former Philadelphia Phillies three-time All-Star first baseman, who had a brief coaching stint for one of the Phillies’ minor league teams before eventually joining the network in 2004, has been appointed the third seat in the booth alongside Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser on “Sunday Night Baseball”, effective with the 2013 season.
He replaces Terry Francona, who left after one year to take the managerial job with the Cleveland Indians. It was during Francona’s only year in the “SNB” booth that his predecessor, Bobby Valentine, wasthe skipper for the Boston Red Sox (he was fired after one execrable season).
While it will be the third different booth combination in as many years following the stability of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan for slightly over two decades, the newest booth occupant wants you to know that he is going to, well, Kruk the trend.
“I think that is why they are putting me in the booth,” Kruk joked from the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville. “Ain’t no chance of that happening.”
There was an equal chance of Kruk not becoming a commentator during baseball games, as he says he felt “uncomfortable when players came into [the] clubhouse… I don’t know why I felt that way.”
It was when Kruk joined Valentine on trips to spring training facilities that he started to get loose in making the transition from a studio analyst to a game analyst.
“You get more information when you’re there,” Kruk said, “than just sitting in the studio.”
Meanwhile, still no word on whether or not Valentine will make a third go-round at the Worldwide Leader – and if he does, he’ll likely have to settle for studio work.
But Kruk’s new gig won’t necessarily mean there will be a vacancy. ESPN says Kruk won’t be entirely phased out of the studio to accommodate his new booth assignment, but that his duties at Bristol would be “roughly cut in half.”
One thing is for certain: He need not spend any further time looking for the best seat in the house.