Last night ESPN missed a crucial home run in a game they were televising.

In the top of the fifth inning, David Ortiz blasted a two-run home run for the Red Sox that gave Boston a 3-2 lead over the Chicago White Sox.  Boston would go on to win 5-2, so it was a pretty important play in the overall context of the game.

Well, ESPN didn’t technically miss it, but they did relegate it to a tiny section of the screen while they were doing a studio cut-in for the Blue Jays-Rangers game.  When Ortiz hit his home run, host Karl Ravech had to throw it back to Jon Sciambi in the broadcast booth for a very abbreviated call.

It was awkward sports television to say the least.

Sure, the Blue Jays-Rangers game was in the bottom of the ninth inning in a tie game… but fans that were tuning in to actually watch the game ESPN was supposed to be televising (Red Sox-White Sox) were none too pleased.

This is not a new phenomenon, even this week.  ESPN was broadcasting Cubs-Pirates (another important game from the NL Central) and repeatedly cut in to show Blue Jays-Rangers with studio commentary over the top.  Yes, Toronto-Texas is a compelling matchup, especially considering what happened in last year’s postseason.  But if ESPN is so invested in those games, constantly cutting away from what they’re actually broadcasting… why not just show Blue Jays-Rangers as your scheduled game?

Just like Red Sox fans, Cubs fans weren’t thrilled with ESPN trying to channel the NFL Red Zone for their MLB game coverage.

In theory, it sounds good for ESPN to bounce around MLB and try to show the best action… but baseball isn’t football.  Red Sox fans or Cubs fans honestly aren’t going to care all that much about Blue Jays-Rangers.  Baseball fandom isn’t like football fandom because it’s much more invested in your favorite team versus the league as a whole, especially during the regular season.  Furthermore, if fans are looking for live look-ins, there’s always MLB Network and other programs that can do more Red Zone style coverage.

If ESPN wants to do whip-around coverage, they should label their programming as such so fans of the teams playing that evening don’t get disappointed when the network switches away from action.  In fact, maybe one evening a week where ESPN did that could be a great idea.  But if you’re going to choose to broadcast a live game, stick with it to serve those fans that tuned in.  If I missed my favorite team hitting a home run while ESPN was constantly giving me studio commentary over a game I wasn’t interested in, I probably wouldn’t be happy either.