While the New York Yankees are having fun and enjoying a ton of success at the plate, the battle with the ESPN network is a different story.
The New York Yankees are no strangers to media attention, and having games featured on ESPN as “Game of the week”, is nothing out of the ordinary. However, playing 3 games in a 24 hour period? That is.
This is the precise situation that the New York Yankees find themselves in next month. Currently, the Yankees are scheduled to play a night game against Toronto in Canada on July 8th (a game that was originally scheduled for an afternoon start), and then playing a doubleheader with the Orioles the following day (scheduled due to a rain-out).
Think about it this way, the Yankees would most likely be at the Rogers Centre until about 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM in Toronto. Then, they would have to get the next available flight to Baltimore (after going through customs and the works); this would leave them approximately 3 to 4 hours to sleep before they would have to be at Camden Yards to play 2 games.
ESPN is refusing to change the date of the scheduled programming, stating that the game will bring high ratings in build up to the All Star game on the 17th of July. Adding to that, the game has been on the books since last December.
However, to say that this would place the Yankees at a severe disadvantage would be a gross understatement. Any team in baseball would be up in arms over a back-to-back-to-back schedule over the course of 24 hours, and the Yankees are not being silent about it. As reported by the NY Daily News, both Yankee president Randy Levine and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner have been advocating for a schedule change with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Manfred was apparently caught off guard by the schedule change.
Yankees brass, along with players and the Yankee manager Aaron Boone have also been vocal on the situation. With Boone demanding that his old employer make the game “unlocked”, after being told by ESPN that the game was “a lock”.
The entire situation does not just affect the New York Yankees, as this will stand as a benchmark moment for the sport.
As quoted by the NY Daily News by an anonymous Yankee source, “This is an integrity issue, plain and simple”. If the quality of game play can be affected so drastically by a network’s schedule, what does that mean for any other team in MLB? Is it the game itself, or the hype and promotion behind it that is most important?
Yankee players and coaches have already stated that they will refuse to do any interviews with ESPN staff before, during, or after games.
Many are calling for Manfred to end the issue by simply telling ESPN “no”; however, with baseball’s new initiative to increase ratings, is it smart to hurt their relationship with ESPN? On the flip side, is it in ESPN’s favor to create riffs with the most popular team in baseball and one of the most recognizable brands in the world? We will have to see who blinks first.
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- NY Daily News