ESPN will begin broadcasting baseball games on Sunday nights an hour earlier beginning in 2019, with first pitch scheduled shortly after 7 PM EDT, Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reports. Games had typically started shortly after 8 PM EDT. ESPN has not made an official announcement but is expected to do so at the Winter Meetings.
ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting team features Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez, Jessica Mendoza, and Buster Olney. The first Sunday Night Baseball game will see the Braves visiting the Phillies on March 31. It’s part of a TV doubleheader. The first game will be the Rangers and the Cubs in Chicago.
Other Sunday night matchups include the Dodgers and Red Sox on July 14, several instances of the Red Sox versus the Yankees, and the Little League Classic between the Pirates and Cubs in Williamsport on August 18.
Part of the reason for the change is that players had been complaining about a lack of rest. Given that the games typically end around 10:30-11 PM EST and Sunday games are typically the final game of a three- or four-game series, teams were often getting to their next destination in the early morning. As a result, players’ sleep schedules were disrupted. Such concerns were brought up during negotiations for the current collective bargaining agreement, which caused earlier start times for weekday games on getaway days.