ESPN Opens 25th Anniversary Season Of MLB Coverage This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN hits a major mark this weekend.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports begins its 25th season of Major League Baseball coverage beginning this Sunday night. ESPN opens its 25th anniversary season covering Major League Baseball live from San Diego, California. Chase Headley and the Padres host Yasiel Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers live on ESPN’s MLB Opening Night Presented by Scotts at 8pm ET on ESPN in the network’s season opening broadcast. Dan Shulman will have the call. He will be joined by analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney for the broadcast. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes Radio, and ESPN Deportes. Before the game starts, ESPN will air a special 90-minute edition of Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown beginning at 6:30pm live from Petco Park in San Diego with Karl Ravech, Jon Kruk and MLB Hall of Famer/ESPN analyst Barry Larkin. Larkin and Ravech will hit the road after Sunday’s broadcast for a special Opening Day edition of Baseball Tonight live at 12pm ET live from Great American Ballpark.

Sunday night’s Opening Night broadcast will be followed up Monday with an Opening Day double header broadcast. Game one will come live from Pittsburgh as reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates host Starlin Castro and the Chicago Cubs. The broadcast is scheduled for a 1pm ET start time. Sean McDonough will anchor the broadcast. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Aaron Boone and reporter Tim Kurkjian. The second game on the day will see Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds host NL Central foes and defending National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Dan Shulman will have the play-by-play for the game. He will be joined by Jon Kruk and Buster Olney for the trio’s second game in less than twenty-four hours.

If ESPN’s Opening Day double header isn’t enough for baseball lovers, ESPN2 will have a triple-header beginning at 3pm ET. Game one on the day’s schedule will see David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox hosting Chris Davis and the Baltimore Orioles at the famed Fenway Park. Dave O’Brien will anchor the broadcast. He will be joined in the booth by analysts Rick Sutcliff and Eric Wedge, and reporter Pedro Gomez. Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies will host Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins in the second game of the three-game schedule. SportsCenter’s Steve Levy will call the play-by-play action for the game. He will be joined by analyst Eduardo Perez for more insight. The last game of the day on ESPN2’s triple header schedule will see Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners on the road against Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That game is scheduled for a 10pm ET start time. Jon Sciambi will have the call. Analyst Doug Glanville and reporter Jessica Mendoza will also be on hand for more coverage throughout the game.

All of ESPN’s games and Baseball Tonight can be watched online through all computers and mobile internet via WatchESPN. Specific games will also be on ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes +, and ESPN Radio.

More information on ESPN’s Opening Night and Opening Day coverage is available online at To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Cards, Cubs To Face Off May 4th On ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN announced this week, the latest addition to its upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary season of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.  Network officials announced earlier this week that it has added a matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs on May 4th to its schedule.  The Cubs will host the defending National League Champion Cardinals in the game.  First pitch is scheduled for 8pm ET.  The matchup is the fourth for the Cards during the 2014 season and the first for the Cubs.

Dan Shulman will anchor the night’s broadcast.  He will be joined by Dan Shulman, returning analyst Jon Kruk, new analyst Curt Schilling and reporter Buster Olney for commentary.  Along with its broadcast on ESPN, fans can also catch the game on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and WatchESPN.  It will be preceded by ESPN’s weekly pre-game show, Baseball Tonight at 7pm.

The current schedule of Sunday Night Baseball games is listed below.

Early-seasonSunday Night Baseball schedule

Date Game
March 30 Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres telecast presented by Scotts
April 6 San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers telecast presented by Taco Bell (ESPN2)
April 13 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees telecast presented by Taco Bell
April 20 Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox telecast presented by Taco Bell (7 p.m.)
April 27 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York Yankees telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 4 St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 11 St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 18 Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 25 St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds telecast presented by Taco Bell
July 13 New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles telecast presented by Taco Bell
July 20 Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals telecast presented by Taco Bell

Sunday Night Baseball game selections for June through September are generally made two weeks in advance.

More information on ESPN’s MLB coverage is available online at  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

ESPN Giving Cubs Fans A Special Treat Next Sunday On SportsCenter

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is giving Cubs fans a special treat next weekend as Major League Baseball nears its annual halfway point.  “The Sports Leader” will run a special next Sunday morning during SportsCenter celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of celebrities who have led Cubs fans in the time honored tradition of the seventh-inning stretch.  Next week’s SportsCenter Featured piece, it is narrated by veteran actor Jim Belushi.  Belushi is himself a Chicago native.

The special focuses on the variety of celebrities that have led fans in the singing of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ after the passing of the late great Harry Carry.  The feature will air this Sunday morning at 10am EST on ESPN.

More information on this and all the latest on SportsCenter is available online at and

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

The Essential Games Of The Chicago Cubs Is Another Home Run From MLB Productions

Courtesy: MLB Productions/A&E Home Video

Frank Sinatra once sang of Chicago, “It’s a heck of a town.”  And he couldn’t be more right.  The Windy City has so much that makes it a rich town.  It’s got great music, great food, and equally great sports teams.  The Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, and White Sox all have championships under their belts, as do the Cubs.  But it’s been over a century since the Cubs last brought home a title to Chi-town.  And this year doesn’t look too promising for the team, either.  So what’s a Cubs fan to do once the playoffs start?  Thanks to Major League Baseball Productions, fans have a whole new way to celebrate the legacy of this storied franchise in The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs

The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs features four of the greatest games in Cubs baseball history.  It starts fans at the famed 1960 Hall of Fame Showcase in which the Cubbies took down the Phillies.  Second in the set is the team’s 1984 stunning eleven inning win over the Cards.  The third of the collection is the Cubs’ 1998 NL Wild Card tiebreaker over the San Francisco Giants.  And last in the set takes fans back to another pivotal matchup against the Cubs’ NL Central foes, the St. Louis Cardinals in the teams’ 2008 Divisional faceoff.  All four games in this set make for great pieces of nostalgia not just for any Cubs fan, but for any fan of Major League Baseball.

The first game collected for The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs is the team’s faceoff against the Phillies in what is now considered to be the team’s Hall of Fame Showcase.  This game featured four future Hall of Famers in the form of:  Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Ferguson Jenkins.  The Phillies struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning.  But the Cubs would answer back in the next two innings with a total of six runs scored.  The bottom of the third was where the Cubs’ bats would really start to warm up.  Billy Williams nailed a fly ball to Left Field for a triple.  Santo followed that up with a single down the third base line, putting him on first, but stranding Williams on third.  Ernie Banks came up next and hit a grounder, allowing Williams to score and moving Santo to second.  Willie Smith would seal the inning with a home run.  His home run also brought in both Santo and Banks, making for a total of four runs.

The Cubs would only score one more run in the bottom of the sixth after a single to Left Field by Billy Williams drove in Kessinger.  It would be all the Cubs needed despite the Phils pulling in one more run in the top of the seventh when Rich Barry scored on a sacrifice fly by Rojas.  The game’s final two innings went scoreless for both teams, leading to a 7-4 final and a “W” for the Cubs.

The Cubs/Phillies matchup from July 12, 1969 is without a doubt one of the best games in the history of the franchise.  It was a hard fought back and forth battle in which the Cubs really took control early on and never looked back.  It’s just one example of what makes this new set enjoyable for audiences.  Nearly two decades later, the Cubs would produce what is another landmark game for the team when it faced off against the Cardinals with the aid of Ryne Sandberg.  What makes this game among the standouts of the club is its comeback.  The team had given up seven runs in the first two innings alone.  Luckily for the Cubs, the Cards went scoreless in the next three innings while the Cubs would score twice in the bottom of the fifth.  And then in the bottom of the sixth, the Cubs’ bats finally came alive.  But it wasn’t until after the Cards brought in two more runs in the top of the inning, bringing the score to 9-8.  The Cubs’ sixth inning surge started after Cardinals pitcher Ralph Citarella hit Ron Cey on the arm.  Citarella was replaced by Neil Allen after that botched pitch.  But that switch-up would make little difference for the Redbirds.  Larry Bowa would be walked by Allen, loading the bases.  Rich Hebner came up to bat and hit a single, bringing in Keith Moreland for one of the team’s five runs.  Bob Dernier came up to bat next and hit a double, driving in Cey and Bowa and moving Hebner to third.  Next up was Ryne Sandberg.  Sandberg would seal with fifth with a single, allowing in both Hebner and Denier to score. 

The seventh and eighth innings would be relatively silent with both teams seeing three up and three down.  But in the bottom of the ninth, everything would change as Sandberg would come up to bat once more and slam a home run with the bases empty.  He would tie the game at nine each, and take the game into extra innings.  It was Sandberg’s eighth home run of the year.  He would tie it up one more time in the bottom of the tenth with his ninth home run of the season.  In the process, he brought in Dernier, too.  In simple terms, Sandberg single handedly brought in five of the Cubs total twelve runs from the game.  The game winner was hit by Dave Owen in the bottom of the eleventh.  The irony here is that his record up till that at bat hadn’t been that great.  He was hitless in his five previous at bats with runners in scoring position.  Owen only hit a single.  But it was all that the Cubs needed to clinch the game.  That single was enough to bring in Leon Durham for the win.

So much went on in this huge matchup between the Cubs and Cards.  As amazing as the action on the field was, it wasn’t all that made this a game worth checking out.  Believe it or not, movie lovers will appreciate this game.  At one point, the game’s commentators use the often mistaken line, “Judy, Judy, Judy”, which so many people believe Cary Grant said in one of his movies.  It was used in reference to Cubs player Jody Davis as he went up to bat.  Truth be told, Grant never said that line at any point in his career.  There’s also a reference to acting veteran Bill Murray’s son being partially named after Ernie Banks.  Allegedly, Murray used Banks’ name for his son’s middle name according to the men behind the mic.  These are just a couple of bonuses thrown throughout The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs.  Fans will also revel in the box’s packaging.  It continues the style established by MLB productions in its other boxes.  Each game gets its very own slim case complete with box score on the back to help fans follow the games.  Even within the discs, fans can choose not just the innings or the whole game, but which half of each inning.  Combine this continued successful packaging and presentation with equally impressive games and The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs proves to be another must have not just for Cubs fans, but for baseball fans in general.

The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs is available now.  It can be ordered direct via MLB Productions’ website,

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it or its companion page,  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at