After years of toiling in relatively obscurity on TBS (and briefly, Fox), the MLB All-Star Selection Show is heading to ESPN this year. The show will air next Sunday at 7 PM, prior to the Rays-Tigers Sunday Night Baseball matchup, and will be hosted by ESPN’s usual pre-Sunday Night Baseball crew of Karl Ravech, Barry Larkin, and Tim Kurkjian. Voting for the game concludes at 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday.
While it’s all well and good that ESPN is airing the show this year, I’m a little disappointed that we need to wait until nearly all of the Sunday games have been completed. TBS would air their version of the Selection Show prior to their airing of a game on Sunday afternoon, and it was a good way to kick off the day’s action of games. Shuffling the show to the Sunday Night Baseball pregame slot de-emphasizes the importance of the game itself. ESPN is also seemingly making the Rays-Tigers game a secondary attraction, moving the Sunday Night Countdown pregame show to 6 PM, before the All-Star Selection Show.
There really wasn’t much of a choice either way with this, though. ESPN is airing live events all day on Sunday leading up to the Selection Show, and there was no other time slot they could really slide the show into. Going back to TBS wouldn’t be a good look, considering they air their first game of the year this Sunday and baseball fans haven’t had a reason to tune in since the World Series began last fall. The only other option would be Fox or Fox Sports 1, but if the show was moved there, it would either A) be moved to Saturday, like it was last year, or B) be shoved onto a day (Sunday) with no baseball airing at all on the network.
ESPN really was the best option this year, and it’ll be interesting to see if it’s the full-time home for the Selection Show or if the show will rotate among all of MLB’s partners.