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ESPN's 'Baseball Tonight' hits the road

After 21 seasons, had “Sunday Night Baseball’’ grown stale?

Jed Drake, an ESPN senior vice president who oversees the telecast, refused to use that word even in responding to the question. But he did not entirely disagree with the premise.

“I wouldn’t use the word you used to describe it,’’ he said, “but I think any time you can make tangible changes that help invigorate a very important series like ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ you’re going to do it.’’

Hence the new announcing team, and also this: “Baseball Tonight,’’ ESPN’s long-running studio show, regularly will originate from the site of the Sunday game.

Drake said the move is “something we should have done a long time ago,’’ and added it will help the show “reassert itself as the most important baseball show on television.’’

Hmm. Does that mean one motivation is to separate ESPN from the MLB Network studio show?

“We always aim to be better than our competition, and we’ll do whatever is required in order to achieve that,’’ Drake said.

The idea is not necessarily to emulate the network’s “College Game Day’’ football show, which benefits from the backup of excited collegians. The baseball version figures to be more laid back.

“Bringing the ‘Baseball Tonight’ production on location from Fenway and Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium, with fans all around us, gives it a dimension it hasn’t had,’’ analyst Bobby Valentine said.

The show’s first visit to New York will be for the Rangers-Yankees game April 17.

New York Sports