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Perrotto: New Pirates TV Deal a Raw One for Robby Incmikoski

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Robby Incmikoski, Pittsburgh Pirates

It seems that every time there is good news with the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is counterbalanced by bad news.

Take Tuesday for example.

The Pirates agreed to contract terms with first baseman Rowdy Tellez in free agency, a worthwhile reclamation project considering he hit 35 home runs for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2022. A few hours later, the Pirates announced that catcher Endy Rodriguez – a key part of their youth movement – had undergone elbow surgery that will force him to miss next season.

Then there was a double dose of news again on Thursday.

The Pirates announced they had agreed with the Pittsburgh Penguins to be joint owners of Sportsnet. That was good news for many fans who will continue to be able to watch games on linear cable.

However, the Pirates and Penguins had barely finished their contract when the bad news hit. Sportsnet decided it was no longer going to use sideline reporter Robby Incmikoski on Pirates’ broadcasts.

Thus, Incmikoski’s 11-year tenure in the job ended. And even the Pirates acquiring journeyman outfielder Billy McKinney from the New York Yankees in a trade on Thursday night could offset the Robby news.

The move did not come as a total surprise. There was word late last season that Incmikoski might be out following the demise of AT&T Sportsnet.

True to his easygoing nature, Incmikoski told me then that he would be at peace with whatever might happen. He was gracious on Thursday, speaking highly of owner Bob Nutting, team president Travis Williams, general manager Ben Cherington and manager Derek Shelton and harboring no bitterness.

Though a Philadelphia native, Incmikoski has fallen in love with this side of the state. He wants to remain in Pittsburgh and continue his broadcasting career.

I give Incmikoski a whole of credit. He handled Thursday’s news with a lot more class than most people.

Simply put, Incmikoski got a raw deal.

I don’t profess to be an expert on many things, but I watch an awful lot of baseball on television and listen to many games on the radio. And I don’t just consume Pirates’ broadcasts but those of each of the other 29 Major League Baseball teams consistently.

Incmikoski is one of the best sideline reporters in the game. Furthermore, he was popular with Pirates fans because of his fun and sometimes irreverent nature.

Being a sideline reporter is not as easy of a gig as Incmikoski makes it look. People in those jobs need to be knowledgeable, well-prepared and able to pivot on a moment’s notice depending upon the events of the game.

It also helps to be a good storyteller and Incmikoski is great at that aspect of the job. I’ve been around the Pirates and MLB for 36 years as a reporter/columnist and rarely did a telecast go by in which I didn’t learn something new from him.

Incmikoski also had a good rapport with Shelton and the players, gaining the respect of everyone in the Pirates’ clubhouse. They would tell him things they would not say to other reporters, and it wasn’t just because they felt obliged because Incmikoski worked for the entity that held the team’s TV rights.

Everyone appreciated the fact that Incmikoski worked hard at his job and could be trusted. The fact that he is as nice of a person as you could meet just added to his gravitas.

Yep, it’s nice that the Pirates have resolved their television situation for 2024 and beyond. Yet not having Incmikoski be part of the broadcasts moving forward downright stinks.

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