Primetime. National television. The time to showcase the best that any sport or league has to offer. The best teams, the best players, the best rivalries.
Or in the case of one Sunday Night Baseball matchup next month… the exact opposite.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Sunday Night Baseball game on August 26th will feature the New York Yankees versus the Baltimore Orioles from Camden Yards.
The Orioles have had a decent run of success this decade, making the playoffs three times since 2012. However, the bottom has fallen out of the franchise this year. The O’s currently sit with a record of 29-73, good enough for a .284 winning percentage and the worst record in baseball. The Orioles are almost a mortal lock to achieve their first 100 loss season since 1988 and their worst season overall since a 43-111 campaign in 1939 when they were still the St. Louis Browns.
That St. Louis Browns team finished an incomprehensible 64.5 games out of first place in 2939. This year’s Orioles are a mere 42.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox and we haven’t even hit August yet.
The Orioles are on pace to lose 116 games, which would be the fourth most in MLB history. You might think they’re the worst team to ever be featured in primetime national television in major pro sports, but that’s not counting the Browns’ annual Thursday night affair the last two years.
It’s certainly unusual to see a team with this poor of a record flexed into a national spotlight and it’s hard to envision what the motivation is here. Perhaps the Orioles are so bad that ESPN and the league think it’s a compelling narrative for the dog days of summer. Or, it could just be that the powers that be don’t think the scrappy underdog Yankees have had enough feature games in primetime yet this year. Sure, that has to be it.