Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reacts after winning the 2023 All-Star Home Run Derby. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reacts after winning the 2023 All-Star Home Run Derby. (Stephen Brashear/USA Today Sports.)

Pregame shows can certainly be important, but they can be a challenging thing to build anticipation for.

Announcing news in a particular TV slot can also be challenging; while leagues obviously like to try to get their announcements in front of the largest audiences imaginable, most major news tends to get broken by outside reporters before the official announcement happens. (The NFL’s coordinated schedule release across various broadcast partners is an example on both fronts.)

But there are some cases where this seems like it might work. And the latest is ESPN promising to reveal the new MLB Home Run Derby rules and format on their Baseball Tonight pregame show Sunday. They’ll then discuss the changes further during their Sunday Night Baseball broadcast of the Baltimore Orioles-Texas Rangers game. Here’s how they announced this Sunday:

This feels like it can pay off for a couple of reasons. The first is that the news seems significant enough to draw tune-ins, likely from some of those who were planning to watch the game initially but only show up for first pitch, and maybe even from some who weren’t planning to watch at all. The Home Run Derby still draws a significant audience, and there’s been a lot of discussion about its format (and lots of attempts to change that format) over the years. So many will be eager to find out these details.

But, crucially, this isn’t news critical to anything in actual league competition. It’s about an exhibition contest ahead of an exhibition game. That means that there are fewer people at the team level who need to find this out in advance, and that lowers the chance of leaks. There’s also less incentive for reporters to really push hard to try and uncover this before the official announcement, with it only being about an exhibition contest. And this was announced without a lot of lead time before the actual announcement, making it harder for anyone on the outside to break it themselves before that.

The approach here probably isn’t largely replicable. The NFL schedule release dribs-and-drabs sort of work for similar reasons, but mostly with the announcements of individual games on network morning shows; most of the full schedule release special tends to get scooped (but it still gets watched in significant numbers, so that works too). And most league announcements probably either have too much significance to effectively hold for TV or too little significance to be worth unveiling on a pregame show. (This sometimes works for announcements of individual event games, like NHL Winter Classics, but those are also tough to keep a lid on.) So we’re probably not seeing this across the board any time soon. But it is interesting to see a notable use of a pregame show for an announcement like this.

[ESPN Press Room]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.