The weather has not been kind to the New York Yankees in 2018. Now it is ESPN and Major League Baseball that are piling on the Yankees. ESPN announced it would be moving the July 8 game against the Toronto Blue Jays from 1:07 to 8:05 after the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles announced they would be playing a doubleheader on July 9.
That would mean the Yankees would be playing three games in 24 hours in two countries with all the travel and customs processing that goes with that. ESPN has defended itself saying they told the Yankees back in December the game was going to be flexed to Sunday Night Baseball. The only problem is nobody knew that at all. Even the MLB commissioner’s office didn’t know until after the Yankees and Orioles announced their doubleheader.
In a time when we see sports talking about player safety we now have a broadcaster dictating scheduling. Granted, ESPN has paid a hefty sum to televise games on Sunday night but that should not mean they are allowed to force a team with a doubleheader the next day in Baltimore to play a game at eight o’clock at night the night prior. It is a bad look and reeks of self-interest.
Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone is livid with his former employer. The Yankees have asked for it to be changed. If ESPN does not change it the Yankees have said they will not answer any questions or grant any interviews to ESPN. That is a bad look for ESPN.
It would be one thing if the Yankees were in New York on Sunday. They aren’t. They are in Toronto and that means they would have to get to the airport after the game, probably at midnight or later, get on the plane, travel to Baltimore, go through customs, get to the hotel, turn around and get to the ballpark for a 5 pm start. The game was originally supposed to start at 4:05 pm but the Orioles agreed to push the game one start back one hour. That is also banking on Delta, the official carrier of the Yankees, to leave on time. There have been three issues in the last three weeks with the planes the Yankees have flown on and have delayed their departures from various cities over that time.
You can’t expect a team to play three games in 24 hours with international travel (even if it is just from Canada) in between. That will result in a bad product on the field. Bad products on the field are not good for any of the parties involved. Baseball is trying to sell their product and, like them or hate them, the Yankees are a draw. Nobody wants to see a team sleepwalk through a doubleheader.
There are also health risks involved. ESPN is literally putting the health of the Yankees at risk. Three games in 24 hours means there will be bullpen arms that will have to pitch on literally no rest. The chance for a major arm injury, or any injury for that matter, drastically increases.
No matter how you look at this it is a bad look for ESPN and Major League Baseball. The fact that ESPN announced they would be flexing the Yankees and Blue Jays game to 8:05 pm after the Yankees and Orioles announced their doubleheader looks awful. Is a Yankees-Blue Jays game really that much of a national draw? Sure, the Yankees are one of the more popular teams in the game but is it worth alienating them?
ESPN and Major League Baseball need to do the right thing here. They need to find a different game for Sunday Night Baseball and do it soon.