The New York Yankees and ESPN might want to reach an understanding, or things could get pretty ugly.
The Yankees originally were scheduled to play the Toronto Blue Jays on July 8 at 1 p.m. ET, but the game recently was pushed back to 8 p.m. for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast. That time switch is problematic for New York, as it’s scheduled to play a make-up doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles the next day, meaning the Yankees will have played three games in two cities in less than 24 hours.
The Yankees want the Blue Jays game moved up to its original start time, and are threatening to boycott ESPN personnel for the remainder of the season if the change isn’t made, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported Monday, citing sources. The Yankees can’t prevent ESPN from broadcasting games, but they could limit access and decline to participate in typical “Sunday Night Baseball” segments, such as pregame features, in-game interviews and postgame appearances on “SportsCenter.”
“ESPN often asks for TV interviews with players prior to the game and special access,” Marchand wrote. “The Yankees would just say no to all requests, a source said, if the July 8 game remains on the ‘Sunday Night’ schedule.”
Say what you want about the Yankees, but it’s easy to see where they’re coming from.
“The players think playing three games in two cities is unfair on many levels, including the integrity of the sport,” Marchand wrote. “From the Yankees’ point of view, it seems easy to select a different matchup for that night.”
One would think finding an alternative to Yankees-Blue Jays wouldn’t be terribly difficult — nor inconvenient, for that matter. As one source told Marchand, “It’s not Yankees-Red Sox.”
ESPN reportedly wants the Yankees at 8 p.m. because the network is scheduled to run an All-Star selection show before the game starts. In ESPN’s minds, apparently, people are more likely to watch the Sunday night broadcast after getting hyped on a bunch of Aaron Judge and/or Giancarlo Stanton worship.
Officials from Major League Baseball, the MLB Players’ Association, the Yankees and ESPN are working toward a comprise, according to Marchand. It’s unclear whether there is a deadline for a change to be made.