In case you thought ESPN’s fascination with the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was being nipped in the bud after the two teams didn’t completely flood the airwaves during the 2015 MLB season, here’s a reality check – ESPN is going to the Yankees-Red Sox well quite often on Sunday Night Baseball in 2016. Earlier this week, ESPN announced the schedule for a bulk of the Sunday Night Baseball games through the first half of the 2016 season, and Yankees-Red Sox is featured no less than three times – including on back to back weeks.
11 matchups (on ten different Sundays) have been announced so far for the 2016 season, and both the Bronx Bombers and BoSox are featured four times – three teams against each other, and once each against another team (Yankees vs Tigers, Red Sox vs Astros). The World Champion Royals are featured just once, on Opening Night against the Mets in a World Series rematch, and the NL champion Mets have a Memorial Day weekend matchup with the Dodgers in addition to their season opener with the Royals.
The aforementioned doubleheader takes place on June 12th, with the Pirates hosting the Cardinals at 5 PM and the Giants hosting the Dodgers at 8:30 PM. Giants-Dodgers is also featured on April 17th, meaning that two matchups (Giants-Dodgers, Red Sox-Yankees) will be featured five times on Sunday Night Baseball’s first 16 weekends.
The Giants and Dodgers are both popular draws against other teams – the Dodgers have the aforementioned matchup with the Mets on Memorial Day weekend, while the Giants take on the Diamondbacks on July 10th, the final game before MLB’s All-Star Game (to be held in San Diego this season). Speaking of the Diamondbacks, their matchup with the Giants marks the first time since 2008 that they’ll be on Sunday Night Baseball.
The full schedule is below.
April 3rd: Mets at Royals
April 10th: Yankees at Tigers
April 17th: Giants at Dodgers
April 24th: Red Sox at Astros
May 1st: Yankees at Red Sox
May 8th: Red Sox at Yankees
May 29th: Dodgers at Mets
June 12th: Cardinals at Pirates (5 PM), Dodgers at Giants (8:30 PM)
July 10th: Diamondbacks at Giants
July 17th: Red Sox at Yankees
May 15th, May 22nd, June 5th, June 19th, June 26th, July 3rd: all TBA
Am I surprised? No, of course not. If ESPN can put Yankees-Red Sox on a Sunday night, they’re putting Yankees-Red Sox on a Sunday night. Plus, if you want to get technical about it, the matchup only takes place *twice* in the first half – the third matchup is the first series of the second half of the season.
But really ESPN, putting Yankees-Red Sox on back to back weekends? We’d be one rainout away from having the *exact same pitching matchup* on back to back Sundays. That would really suck. And it’s not as if there aren’t other good matchups on either May 1st or May 8th – Giants-Mets and Nationals-Cardinals on May 1st both look pretty tempting, as do Nationals-Cubs, Dodgers-Blue Jays, Rangers-Tigers, and Pirates-Cardinals on May 8th.
The biggest surprises to me with the reveal of this early schedule? No Cubs! No Nationals! Only one Cardinals game! Where in the hell is the love for the National League outside of the NL West? All ten MLB playoff teams are featured on ESPN’s Opening Day coverage, but the non-Yankees AL playoff teams show up a total of once after Opening Day (and that team is, of course, playing the Red Sox), while the reigning NL champions show up once after Opening Day and the three NL Central teams show up a total of twice (playing each other).
It just seems like yet another missed opportunity for ESPN to showcase some new teams after taking a massive step in the right direction with their Opening Day plans. With those six TBA dates still on the schedule, there will be plenty of opportunities for other teams to be featured – the Pirates and Cubs both have some appealing games on those dates, including a pair against each other. The Rangers could conceivably be featured on any of those Sunday dates. The Astros, Royals, and Blue Jays all have some sexy games scheduled on those Sundays.
Here’s hoping that the new blood of Major League Baseball is featured frequently on national television this year – my mind might explode if we get a new episode on the David Ortiz Retirement Tour every two weeks.