The New York Yankees aren’t happy with one of Major League Baseball’s biggest television partners.
ESPN has selected the Yankees vs. Blue Jays game on July 8 to be their featured game on Sunday Night Baseball that week. That pushed the start time of said game from 1:07 PM to 8:07 PM. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. Stuff like that happens all the time in sports, and the Yankees are a major market team who attract big ratings to ESPN’s weekly Sunday night telecast.
However, due to an almost unprecedented amount of inclement weather in the first month or so of the season, the Yankees are scheduled to play a double-header in Baltimore the next day. That means finishing Sunday’s game around 11:00 PM, getting on a place to Baltimore, and having to play a solid 6+ hours of baseball on Monday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone is not impressed.
“Hopefully there is some pressure being applied,” Boone said, according to the New York Post, “because that is not good for the product on the field or the safety of our guys, having go from night game, flight and right into a doubleheader. Anybody who would argue with that is not being truthful.”
ESPN claims the decision was made before the season even started, but both the Blue Jays and Yankees have original schedules that said the start time was 1:07 PM. New York claims they never would have agreed to the Monday double-header if Sunday’s game had always been scheduled for prime time.
The New York Daily News is reporting that ESPN wanted the Yankees on that particular night because it’s also their All-Star Show. When Boone was told the date and start time were “locked in,” his response was simple: “Unlock it.”
The Yankees are at the mercy of ESPN and MLB on this one, but they can fight back in small ways. They are threatening to refuse to cooperate with ESPN media for any pre-game, in-game, or post-game interviews. It’s unclear if they mean for only the July 8 game in question, or as an ongoing protest throughout the season.