ESPN and Dan Le Batard are clearly headed for a breakup

The baseball analogy works for what is happening between ESPN and “The Dan Le Batard Show.” First, a star right fielder is dropped in the order. Next, he platoons. Then he doesn’t start.

The final act is he is no longer on the team.

It couldn’t be any clearer that Le Batard and ESPN are headed for a breakup.

They should just start the early buyout talk now, because it is hard to believe they are not destined for a separation. It just depends if it will be sooner or later.

He doesn’t seem to like them much. They don’t seem to like him much. Le Batard and crew might as well move on to Spotify or SiriusXM or their own thing instead of both sides wasting each other’s time.

On Wednesday, Le Batard announced a very nice thing. Among the 300 people laid off last week by ESPN was one of his producers, Chris Cote. Le Batard said he was “blindsided” by the move and it was the “greatest disrespect of my professional career.” Le Batard is taking on Cote’s salary as his personal assistant with a raise, filling a position recently vacated.

Le Batard, who makes around $3 million and has indicated he has less than two years remaining on his contract, said that he was “wounded” by the move. His group, as he said on Wednesday, is a family.

ESPN had already moved Le Batard’s TV show to an earlier, less desirable time during the day. They cut the national radio program by an hour. It moved the show to ESPN+. Le Batard and company missed Monday’s show as they dealt with the Cote news.

The program’s lead producer, Mike Ryan, said Wednesday the show is “shrinking.” Le Batard, who understands the game very well, said ESPN was trying to shrink them, but they are growing. As long as Le Batard stays on the network, he can act like he is the little guy fighting the big corporation that will endear him to many.

ESPN executives from Jimmy Pitaro on down, dealing with bigger issues these days, will have to figure out how long they want to take it.

Le Batard said he wished ESPN had discussed the Cote decision with him. But after they move you down in the order, after they platoon you, when the bench and off the team are the next stops, they don’t consult with you anymore.

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