Alex Rodriguez will be in neutral territory on Sunday night, calling the Red Sox-Yankees game for ESPN from a studio in Bristol, Connecticut.
There is a certain geographic logic to it, but it is not where he wants to be.
"Look, I really like Bristol," he said in an interview with Newsday on Friday. "But it doesn’t compare to Yankee Stadium, that’s for sure.
"There’s nothing like it for all of us that have been so fortunate to be around the stadium. It brings the kids out of us."
The tentative plan is for Rodriguez and his "Sunday Night Baseball" partner, Matt Vasgersian, to return to on-site work for the July 4 Mets-Yankees game. For now, COVID-19 restrictions still apply.
"I think Matt and I over the last year-and-a-half have found a pretty good groove in Bristol," he said. "At the same time, we’re very much looking forward to getting out to the field."
The peculiarity of this weekend is not limited to where the announcers will be located. Also odd is that this is the first series of the season between the old rivals.
"It is strange," Rodriguez said. "What I think is that it makes the games bigger and more exciting."
The Yankees (31-27), for whom Rodriguez played 12 seasons, enter Saturday's play in third place in the AL East behind the Rays (36-23) and Red Sox (34-23).
"I think like other teams, they have to get healthy," Rodriguez said. "It all starts with their pitching and defense. They have to really figure out what happens after [Gerrit] Cole.
"They don’t have [Luis] Severino. They don’t have [Aaron] Hicks. Their baserunning has been awful and their situational hitting has been poor.
"With all that said, they’re within striking distance, and I think you hope their worst baseball is behind them and they have 3 ½ months of good baseball ahead of them."
As for the Red Sox, Rodriguez called Alex Cora "the best manager in baseball. I thought it was a brilliant move by the Red Sox front office to bring him back. He is really a game-changer."
Cora sat out last season in the wake of the Astros' sign-stealing scandal.
Rodriguez called Cora a "hybrid" combination of old- and new-school approaches, willing to bunt, steal and hit-and-run but also fluent in analytics and in communicating with modern players.
"When you have a manger that can use the entire deck and you have 29 other managers that are not allowed to, I think advantage goes to the Red Sox," Rodriguez said.
As for the first-place Mets, he said, "I think the Mets have a lot of upside . . . They have the best pitcher on Earth in [Jacob] deGrom. They have an All-Star shortstop [Francisco Lindor] that can only get better.
"And talk about injuries. It’s been a nightmare year for them as far as injuries are concerned and they’re still there at the top. I’m bullish on the Mets."
Rodriguez and his ex-fiancee, Jennifer Lopez, were part of a group that sought to buy the Mets before Steve Cohen secured them.
Asked about the new owner, Rodriguez said, "I love it. I think it’s good what he’s been doing for the Mets . . . I love it as a fan of baseball."
Rodriguez also said he is concerned about the state of the game, especially its high strikeout totals and emphasis on home runs.
"I don’t think there’s a person out there who says the game is better this way," he said. "Pitching, defense, contact and aggressive baserunning is always a more attractive game to play, and we have to make aggressive moves to get us back there."
Rodriguez is involved in multiple ventures and is part of a group seeking to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA. But he said analyzing games for ESPN and Fox remains a professional priority.
"I love baseball," he said. "Ever since as far as I can remember, 4, 5, 6 years old, any time I’ve been at home and have a remote control, a baseball game goes on, and sometimes multiple ones. So Sunday night I just get to talk to America about it. It’s a privilege."