With no live sports, sports networks need content. Many are turning to airing classic games, and ESPN is no exception. But in addition to airing classic MLB games every Tuesday, ESPN is launching a pregame show for those classic games (yes, a pregame show for games that have already aired), which will be available on its digital platforms.
The pregame show (entitled BBTN Live) seems somewhat similar to Tony Kornheiser’s idea for PTI in a world without live sports, at least for this week. The classic game for this week is Cal Ripken Jr’s record breaking streak game from 1995, and thus, the pregame show features Ripken, and play by play announcer Chris Berman, along with Tim Kurkjian (a former Baltimore Sun reporter) and host Clinton Yates.
On this week’s episode of MLB Encore Tuesdays, ESPN is re-airing Cal Ripken Jr.’s iconic “2,131 Game” from September 6, 1995, in which the Baseball Hall-of-Famer broke Lou Gehrig’s seemingly unbreakable record for the most consecutive games played. The game, which featured Ripken, Jr.’s Baltimore Orioles hosting the California Angels, initially aired on ESPN and was called by legendary ESPN commentator Chris Berman.
Ripken, Jr. and Berman will both join the inaugural episode of BBTN Live to discuss their memories of the historic Major League Baseball moment. Clinton Yates hosts BBTN Live, which also features ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian, who covered Ripken, Jr. locally for several years as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Ripken, Jr. will also discuss his record-breaking moment during the fifth inning on ESPN’s social media platforms.
I actually think this is a pretty cool idea, and it’s more out of the box than just airing classic games without added context, esports, or films. I feel like other networks (MLB Network, maybe?) have done the “players talk about their classic games and moments” thing before, but it’s still a nice change of pace and I like the added context from journalists and broadcasters.
In case you’re interested, here’s the currently announced schedule for ESPN’s MLB Encore Tuesdays, which also includes a handful of classic no-hitters and perfect games that have been added to the ESPN+ library.