The Yankees get more than their share of ESPN Sunday Night games. That’s not a benefit to the Yankees, mind you. Sure, it’s considered baseball’s marquee game, but Sunday night games are hard on players because, unlike every other club who has to travel after a weekend series, the Yankees either have to travel to the next town on a road trip, or to begin a road trip, late Sunday night far more often than most teams.
It’s going to be especially hard on July 8-9, because (a) ESPN selected the Yankees-Blue Jays game scheduled for that day to be the Sunday night game; and (b) the Yankees have re-scheduled their rained out game against the Orioles from this past Thursday as part of a doubleheader on Monday, July 9. That means a flight and a quick turnaround for a 4PM start.
The real beef here is that, according to the Yankees, ESPN picked them for the Sunday night game after the Yankees agreed to that doubleheader, which means that ESPN made no consideration whatsoever for the hardship it entailed. According to Bill Madden in the Daily News there is some back-and-forth about the timing of it all, but it seems more credible to me that, yes, ESPN picked the Sunday night game after the doubleheader was scheduled.
The upshot of all of this, Madden reports, is that the Yankees are livid and want Major League Baseball to lean on ESPN to change their choice, calling it “an integrity” issue. As in, integrity of the game, because no one is getting a team’s best effort when they have to play three games in the space of 24 hours, interrupted by a late night flight and very little sleep. It’s hard to disagree with the Yankees here.
If ESPN doesn’t comply, the Yankees are reportedly threatening to avoid all interviews with ESPN staff before, during and after the game. A development which MLB certainly doesn’t want and which could spiral into a far bigger story than a mere scheduling change would be. The fact that Yankees manager Aaron Boone was an ESPN commentator until this year, handling Sunday night games, suggests to me that he knows such a threat would hit ESPN where it hurts.
Here’s hoping MLB and ESPN does the right thing. And hey, maybe in the process ESPN could actually, you know, show the country a team it doesn’t see very often. I know that’s insane, but last I checked there were teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox and a few other over-scheduled-on-Sunday-night clubs.