As ESPN begins its 25th Major League Baseball season, the network is unveiling a variety of new content plans to celebrate the milestone and its new multi-platform rights agreement with MLB. Here’s what’s “on deck” this season:
Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown
The Sunday Night Baseball pre-game edition of Baseball Tonight is being re-branded to Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown to better align with ESPN’s exclusive, national game of the week. Karl Ravech will team with analyst and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin for most episodes.
Baseball Tonight Roadshows
ESPN will take Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown out to the ball game for several on-site shows leading into Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. The Baseball Tonight roadshows will air from prime locations near the ballpark, allowing fans to show their team pride at the set and for viewers to experience the atmosphere of Sunday Night Baseball. On-site Baseball Tonight coverage begins on Opening Night – Sunday, March 30 – from Petco Park in San Diego at 6:30 p.m. ET.
ESPN has added several new commentators to its coverage for the 25th season, including veteran manager Eric Wedge, who will regularly contribute to Baseball Tonight as well as select game telecasts. Additionally, former perfect game pitcher Dallas Braden is expected to join ESPN as a Baseball Tonight analyst this season.
Offseason acquisitions: bilingual analysts on ESPN and ESPN Deportes
Former manager and player Ozzie Guillen, who contributed primarily to ESPN Deportes last season, will cross over to do both English and Spanish-language commentary across ESPN platforms this season, including regular appearances on Baseball Tonight. Additionally, analyst Eduardo Perez returns to Baseball Tonight after two years of Major League coaching stints. Perez will also contribute to Spanish-language coverage on ESPN Deportes. Guillen and Perez join Manny Acta and Alex Cora in ESPN’s growing contingent of bilingual MLB analysts.
ESPN is back in the MLB Playoffs
Beginning in 2014, ESPN will annually televise a Wild Card game, in addition to NY and all tie-breaker games. Furthermore, ESPN can select up to four Postseason Impact Games in late September, in order to showcase the top games and storylines heading into the postseason.
Holiday baseball is back on ESPN
Also starting this season, ESPN will televise holiday games on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Here is 2014’s current schedule:
|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|
Baseball Tonight Insiders edition
ESPN MLB Insiders Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney and Jayson Stark will host a special “seamheads” edition of Baseball Tonight each Thursday at 10 p.m. The trio will offer deeper insights into advanced statistics, rankings, breaking news and rumors throughout the season. Additionally, Keith Law and Grantland’s Jonah Keri will also make appearances throughout the season
25 Years of MLB on ESPN Vignettes
ESPN has produced a series of 25th season commemorative vignettes, which will celebrate each Major League Baseball team. One vignette will be unveiled each week across ESPN platforms, with the first slated to run Sunday, March 30, on the Los Angeles Dodgers ahead of Opening Night.
ESPN Deportes will televise more than 80 regular-season games this season – 65 more than in seasons past.
ESPN Deportes + – the ESPN Deportes broadband network available via ESPNDeportes.com – and will also provide exclusive Spanish-language coverage of 30 regular-season games.