It's a month until pitchers and catchers report! Which means… mostly nothing, because I'm really only interested in seeing actual, regular season baseball come back.
Regardless, it will be time to hear the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and all that jazz again soon. Given that it's the first year of a brand new television contract, we're especially interested to see what Major League Baseball and its networks come up with.
From ESPN's early schedule, it appears we're back to the old days. As promised, the Worldwide Leader has gotten the rights back to the major holidays that take place during MLB's regular season and will populate at least a game on Labor Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, along with their expansive Opening Day coverage and of course, the return of Sunday Night Baseball for Season 25.
ESPN will open its season on a Sunday night for the second consecutive year, with the San Diego Padres hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers in an interestingly similar situation to their opener last year, which featured a good team from the year before (Texas) visiting a bad team from the year before (Houston).
Other highlights of ESPN's slate:
- The Pittsburgh Pirates are officially back, from a televisiion standpoint: The Bucs make their first Sunday Night appearance since May of 2002 (which led a Pittsburgh native to point out to me that the 2002 team was also terrible) when they host the Cardinals on May 11th.
- Much of the Sunday Night schedule is the usual suspects: the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Dodgers and Cardinals all have multiple appearances within the first 10 games announced.
- ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to broadcast five games on opening day for everyone else, March 31st, including Robinson Cano's debut with the Mariners.
- ESPN will air an afternoon doubleheader on Memorial Day, an afternoon/evening doubleheader on July 4th, and a single 1 p.m. ET telecast on Labor Day.
- We would very much like to know if ESPN knows something in advance since they're scheduling that Rockies-Marlins game on Mar. 31.
The full MLB on ESPN schedule so far (Monday, Wednesday, and future Sunday Night telecasts will be flexed in later) is as follows:
|Mar. 30, 8 p.m. ET||LA Dodgers vs. San Diego||ESPN|
|Mar. 31, 1 p.m. ET||CHI Cubs vs. Pittsburgh||ESPN|
|Mar. 31, 3 p.m. ET||Boston vs. Baltimore||ESPN2|
|Mar. 31, 4 p.m. ET||St. Louis vs. Cincinnati||ESPN|
|Mar. 31, 7 p.m. ET||Colorado vs. Miami||ESPN2|
|Mar. 31, 10 p.m. ET||Seattle vs. LA Angels||ESPN2|
|Apr. 6, 8 p.m. ET||San Francisco vs. LA Dodgers||ESPN2|
|Apr. 13, 8 p.m. ET||Boston vs. NY Yankees||ESPN|
|Apr. 20, 7 p.m. ET||Baltimore vs. Boston||ESPN|
|Apr. 27, 8 p.m. ET||LA Angels vs. NY Yankees||ESPN|
|May 11, 8 p.m. ET||St. Louis vs. Pittsburgh||ESPN|
|May 18, 8 p.m. ET||Detroit vs. Boston||ESPN|
|May 25, 8 p.m. ET||St. Louis vs. Cincinnati||ESPN|
|May 26, 1 p.m. ET||Boston vs. Atlanta||ESPN|
|May 26, 4 p.m. ET||NY Yankees vs. St. Louis||ESPN|
|July 4, 3 p.m. ET||NY Yankees vs. Minnesota||ESPN2|
|July 4, 7 p.m. ET||Tampa Bay vs. Detroit||ESPN|
|July 13, 8 p.m. ET||NY Yankees vs. Baltimore||ESPN|
|July 20, 8 p.m. ET||LA Dodgers vs. St. Louis||ESPN|
|Sept. 1, 1 p.m. ET||Philadelphia vs. Atlanta||ESPN|