ESPN announced the early part of its 2012 MLB Sunday Night Baseball schedule, which begins April 8 with the Chicago White Sox at the Texas Rangers. Viewers will be treated to plenty of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the L.A. Angels (now with Albert Pujols).
New this season, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona joins play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser in the booth. (Francona essentially swapped jobs with former ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, who now coaches the Red Sox.)
One thing that does seem a little odd — or not, depending on your perspective — is the complete lack of Milwaukee Brewers games on the early schedule. Hard for ESPN to claim a “star-studded schedule” without a single game featuring NL MVP Ryan Braun. Is ESPN conceding that Braun will serve a 50-game suspension from a positive drug test and, with the Brewers likely not having Prince Fielder, Milwaukee’s games aren’t worth televising nationally? Or are they just going with the bigger markets and don’t really care about the Brewers either way?
Press release and schedule from ESPN after the jump. We’ll update the Sunday Night Baseball games that are TBD when ESPN announces the matchups.
Star-Studded Schedule for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball
ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell – the exclusive, national game of the week – will continue to showcase Major League Baseball’s top teams and biggest stars throughout 2012. The Sunday Night Baseball schedule will feature the Los Angeles Angels and offseason acquisition Albert Pujols visiting the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter on April 15; two rivalry matchups between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (April 22 and July 8); multiple appearances by the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals (May 20 and July 15, in addition to Opening Night April 4; and three appearances by the Texas Rangers – the defending AL pennant winners – April 8 and 29 and May 13.
ESPN’s first seven Sunday Night games will feature at least one playoff team and several of MLB’s biggest stars will be on display, including the Angels’ Pujols; the Yankees’ Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano; Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury; Texas’ Josh Hamilton; Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria; Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Chase Utley; St. Louis’ Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman; Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp; Atlanta’s Chipper Jones and Brian McCann; Chicago’s Paul Konerko; and Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman.
This season will also mark the debut of analyst Terry Francona, who joins play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser in the Sunday Night Baseball booth. Sunday Night games are also available via ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 and ESPN Mobile TV.
ESPN Radio’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team will again be play-by-play commentator Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton. ESPN Radio, entering its 15th season of MLB coverage, will also broadcast a game of the week each Saturday during the regular season, the State Farm Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, and every Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series game.
The Sunday Night Baseball schedule as selected to date follows (all telecasts begin at 8 p.m. ET). Game selections for the remainder of the season will be made three weeks (June and July 1, 22 and 29) or two weeks (August and September) in advance.
ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Schedule
Date Teams (all telecasts at 8 p.m. ET)
April 8 Chicago White Sox at Texas
April 15 L.A. Angels at N.Y. Yankees
April 22 Yankees at Boston
April 29 Tampa Bay at Texas
May 6 Philadelphia at Washington
May 13 Angels at Texas
May 20 St. Louis at L.A. Dodgers
May 27 Washington at Atlanta
June 3-July 1 TBD
July 8 Yankees at Boston
July 15 St. Louis at Cincinnati
July 22-Sept 23 TBD
MLB Opening Week on ESPN
ESPN’s 23rd season of Major League Baseball will also include five games April 4-6 highlighted by an exclusive Opening Night telecast when the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals visit the Miami Marlins, in the debut of Marlins Park, Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m.