ESPN announces its early season Sunday Night Baseball matchups


ESPN has announced its Opening Day quadruple header lineup and its early season Sunday Night Baseball matchups. To wit:




People will, as usual, complaint about all of the New York and Boston. To which I say: “meh.” TV stations are in the business of getting ratings. This is what they would do.

Besides, Sunday Night Baseball has become all but unwatchable anyway. It features a three-man booth which, Dan Shulman’s workmanlike service notwithstanding, is always a distraction as 50% more voices than usual compete to provide insight that, most of the time, isn’t really necessary. And to better justify their presence they go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the game at hand. Quite often, actually. When they do talk about the game at hand they provide generalities and sometimes even misinformation about the players and teams involved. I’m sure John Kruk is a nice man, but preparation to analyze the parts of a baseball game we non-players may not immediately see is not his strong suit.

But then again, ESPN doesn’t treat Sunday Night Baseball like any other baseball game. They treat it as the weekly Baseball Show, and gobble up all kinds of time talking about events and news stories we’ve all been talking about for several days. They do things like interview managers in the dugout in the middle of the game. The typical Sunday Night Baseball broadcast does not act as if the game is just one of 15 that happened that day and one of 100 or so that happened that week. And for this reason most of what the broadcast chooses to emphasize is an unnecessary distraction.

Which is a shame given their technical production values and the huge platform ESPN provides. Just think what Sunday Night Baseball could be like if everything that is good about televised baseball were present there and so much of what is bad was not.

So, beef all you want about the Yankees and Red Sox dominating the schedule. It’s of relatively small concern in my view.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

tampa bay rays
Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.