ESPN’s Michael Eaves jokes that Tom Rinaldi could make somebody cry at their own funeral, but he told Front Office Sports that he welcomes the challenge of replacing the popular essayist during ESPN’s coverage of this week’s Masters Tournament.
“To be a part of the Masters telecast for ESPN and do something Tom Rinaldi has done so well for the last few years, it’s really cool,” Eaves said.
During ESPN’s live coverage of Rounds 1 and 2 on Thursday and Friday, Eaves will assume Rinaldi’s role of interviewing players as they come off the course at Augusta National Golf Club. Rinaldi moved to Fox earlier this year.
Last November’s pandemic-delayed Masters was the least-watched on record. Eaves expects it will be different this week, with it returning to its rightful slot in April and spectators again supplying their famous roars.
It’s a “bucket list” assignment, said Eaves. During his senior year in high school, he was the first Black golfer to qualify for the Kentucky state golf tournament.
Along with Eaves, ESPN’s Marty Smith and Gene Wojciechowski will provide features. Scott Van Pelt and Curtis Strange will host from Butler Cabin.
Like most SportsCenter anchors, Eaves writes his own copy. He’s written a piece on honorary starter Lee Elder, the first Black person to play in the Masters.
“To be a sports reporter and even a sports anchor, you have to be a good writer. The better writer you are, the better storyteller you will be.”