Once again, the Oakland Athletics are not featured on Sunday Night Baseball in its opening weeks, the Worldwide Leader preferring known ratings winners like the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Cardinals. This is not necessarily ESPN's fault, as the A's have had a few chances to appear on Sunday Night Baseball before their August appearance last year but either the A's or the visiting team declined, according to Sunday Night Baseball announcer Dan Schulman (skip ahead to 1:14):
Last August's appearance at the Coliseum was the first time since 2005 that ESPN's Sunday night broadcast came to Oakland. The hard part in playing the game here is moving the game to the early evening on a Sunday. That time at the Coliseum tend to put the Sun directly into the eyes of outfielders, and draws inevitable discussions about shadows. Additionally, Sunday is almost certainly a getaway day for the road team, who may be returning to points east and would prefer not to compound the time zone change with late travel.
Lev Facher wrote about why he thought ESPN has been reluctant to come to Oakland when this story came out at this time last year:
The issue for me is less the practical implications - personally, I don't care all that much whether the A's are on Sunday Night Baseball - and more the repeatedly reinforced reality that Oakland and other small-market franchises play second fiddle to the big-name clubs. ESPN seems far more interested in generating impressive rankings than broadcasting compelling baseball of the highest possible quality. In today's world, I can't really say I blame them.
In August, Facher spoke to broadcasters Dan Schulman and Jon Kruk before their visit to the Coliseum:
Shulman sounded particularly excited to do exactly what A's fans complain that the national networks fail to do - tell the stories that go consistently under-appreciated by the casual fan around the country. Both broadcasters love Sean Doolittle, Shulman feels that Sonny Gray is a budding star who isn't a household name quite yet, and there are plenty of other stories that should be told during Sunday's broadcast.
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball schedule
All times 5 pm Pacific Time (unless otherwise noted):
- April 5: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs (Opening Night)
- Monday, April 6 (Opening Day):
- 10 am: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
- 1 pm: New York Mets at Washington Nationals
- 4 pm: Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros
- 7 pm: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks
- April 12: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
- April 19: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
- April 26: New York Mets at New York Yankees
- May 3: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox