ESPN has announced their coverage plans for Spring Training this year, and baseball fans will get to see seven games before Opening Day – including one in primetime.
Monday, March 17th, 1 PM. Cardinals at Red Sox, broadcasted by Karl Ravech, Barry Larkin, and Tim Kurkjian.
Tuesday, March 18th, 1 PM. Red Sox at Yankees, broadcasted by Dan Shulman, John Kruk, and Buster Olney.
Thursday, March 20th, 7 PM. Yankees at Red Sox, broadcasted by Dan Shulman, John Kruk, and Buster Olney.
Monday, March 24th, 1 PM. Tigers at Pirates, broadcasted by Adnan Virk, Doug Glanville, and Tim Kurkjian.
Tuesday, March 25th, 1 PM. Braves at Tigers, broadcasted by Adnan Virk, Doug Glanville, and Tim Kurkjian.
Wednesday, March 26th, 1 PM. Nationals at Cardinals, broadcasted by Steve Levy, Eduardo Perez, and Doug Glanville.
Thursday, March 27th, 12 PM. Nationals at Mets, broadcasted by Steve Levy, Eduardo Perez, and Doug Glanville.
Yeah, it's a bit of an uninspired slate – two Yankees-Red Sox games, only eight teams featured over seven games. Last year, ESPN showed eight games, and featured ten teams. The only Grapefruit League teams that haven't been shown over the last two years are the Marlins, Blue Jays, Twins, Astros, and Rays. The Phillies and Orioles, who were each televised once last year, don't show up at all this year, while the Pirates pop up on ESPN's schedule.
As usual, no games from the Cactus League will be televised, and that's something ESPN should look into. The parks out in Arizona are much bigger than their Florida counterparts, and ESPN is losing opportunities to possibly attract some eyeballs from larger markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, and Dallas. The Cactus League will be featured on the Goodyear Express bus tour, which has been cut to a total of 11 stops between both Florida and Arizona.
All in all, I would hope for more Spring Training coverage from ESPN, especially during a time of year where the only live programming they have is the NBA and the remaining days of the college basketball season. When you consider how many of these games happen during the day, broadcasting more games would provide a nice respite from hours upon hours of SportsCenter, but I guess we'll have to wait another year for that.