ESPN kicks off its 25th season covering Major League Baseball today. In celebration of the anniversary, ESPN has announced a number of changes and additions to its coverage. The very first of those changes and additions is a rebranding of its flagship program, Sunday Night Baseball. Sunday Night Baseball has been rebranded as Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown. The name change has been implemented in order to better coincide with ESPN’s weekly national game of the week. Karl Ravech will continue to anchor the broadcast. And MLB Hall of Famer/analyst Barry Larkin will join Ravech for most episodes.
The rebranding of Sunday Night Baseball is just the tip of the iceberg for the changes being made to ESPN’s MLB coverage in its 25th season. Along with the rebranding of the network’s flagship show, several episodes of Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown will be broadcast live on-site from key locations near select games throughout the season. The live broadcasts will allow fans to show their pride live on television and viewers to get a taste of the live Baseball Tonight atmosphere. It all begins opening night from PetCo Park in San Diego at 6:30pm.
The new live, on-site broadcasts of Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown are the cornerstone of ESPN’s re-branded broadcasts for its 25th season of coverage. Along with the new live, on-site broadcasts, viewers will also see some new faces on this year’s telecasts. ESPN added new commentators for its telecasts during the offseason. Veteran manager Eric Wedge has been added to the Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown roster as has former perfect game pitcher Dallas Braden. Braden will join ESPN’s weekly broadcast as an analyst. Wedge will contribute regularly to the show, too.
MLB great and former manager Ozzie Guillen joined ESPN Deportes throughout the 2013 MLB season. His role has been expanded this season. Guillen will contribute both to ESPN Deportes and ESPN’s English-language platforms this season, including regular appearances on Baseball Tonight. Eduardo Perez returns to the broadcast side of the game after spending the past two seasons in the dugout. Perez will contribute largely to MLB broadcasts on ESPN Deportes. Both Guillen and Perez will join Manny Acta and Alex Cora in ESPN’s growing stable of bilingual MLB analysts.
As the 2014 MLB season progresses, audiences can stay tuned in to ESPN as the Worldwide Leader in Sports will televise special holiday games on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, as well as at least one Wild Card game, in addition to NY and all tie-breaker games. Making the deal even sweeter, ESPN will have rights to four Postseason Impact games in late September. This will allow ESPN to present the top games and storylines from around the league heading into the postseason. The schedule for ESPN’s special holiday broadcasts is provided below.
Holiday Date Time (ET) Game
Memorial Day Mon, May 26 1 p.m. Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves
4 p.m. New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals
Independence Day Fri, Jul 4 3 p.m. New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins
Labor Day Mon, Sep 1 TBD TBD
If the weekly Sunday night broadcast of MLB games isn’t enough for fans, ESPN will also offer audiences a special “seamheads” edition of Baseball Tonight every Thursday night at 10pm ET. ESPN MLB Insiders Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, and Jayson Stark will serve as the panel for the program. They will discuss all even more insight than is offered every Sunday night, including: advanced stats, ranking, and breaking news and rumors throughout the season. They will be joined occasionally by Keith Law and Grantland’s Jonah Keri.
ESPN is going to have expansive and in-depth coverage of MLB baseball this season, as is obvious by now. But it’s still not all that fans have to expect from the Worldwide Leader in Sports during the 2014 MLB season. ESPN will also present specially produced vignettes each week across its TV and internet platforms that celebrate each of the league’s teams. The first of those vignettes will air tonight, March 30th. It will focus on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The final touch to ESPN’s massive list of changes for this season of MBL coverage involves coverage on ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes +. ESPN Deportes increases its broadcast schedule to more than eighty regular season games. That is sixty-five games more than in previous seasons. ESPN Deportes + will also include exclusive Spanish-language coverage of thirty regular season games.
More information on all of the latest on the ESPN family of networks’ MLB coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/mlb. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.