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ESPN promotes Orel Hershiser

Mets pitcher Orel Hershiser, center, general manager Steve

Mets pitcher Orel Hershiser, center, general manager Steve Phillips, left, and manager Bobby Valentine gather for a photo during a news conference. (March 25, 1999) Photo Credit: AP

Happy Easter, WachDog Village, and Happy Opening Night!

To celebrate the latter occasion editor Dave Whitehorn has followed up last year's award-winner with another first-rate baseball preview section.

I was honored to participate, contributing this story about the new third man in ESPN's Sunday night booth, Orel Hershiser.

(Here is a companion item explaining that Hershiser's regular-season debut won't be seen in New York or Boston.)

I'm just back from a mini-vacation, during which I took the WatchDog pups on our annual trip to a hall of fame, this time to Newport for tennis.

The hall of fame itself is worth a visit if you're in the neighborhood or really into tennis. The highlight for me was the building itself, the historic Newport Casino, an old social club for the city's summer mansion set.

Seeing the grass court on which the national championship was contested before it moved to Queens was cool.

What did I miss while I was away? Have all the New York-area colleges hired new basketball coaches yet?

I know launched, because the parade of tweets and emails I get from its writers and p.r. people never lets me forget.

Here are two accounts of the launch more thorough than the one I wrote a week earlier, one from Sandomir of the Times and one from GQ.

What do I think of Journalistically, too soon to tell, but I always am happy about jobs for quality journalists. Among those who will appear are Newsday columnizing alums Shaun Powell, Johnette Howard and Wally Matthews and my old St. John's beat confrere, Ian O'Connor.

One thing, though: ESPN execs have been extremely careful in every city to say only nice things about competing with the sites of newspapers and regional TV sports networks.

Part of that is genuine, but part of it is calculated, too.

ESPN has decided there is no point in talking trash and unnecessarily getting the entrenched big-city newspaper people any more agitated and defensive than they already are.

I don't know where all this is headed in the next five or 10 years. For now, though, there is no reason not to stick with us as your primary source for NY/LI sports info.

I'll officially be back on duty Monday. Enjoy the UConn-Baylor game.

Photo: AP

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