Cubs Expose ESPN’s Lake-Coast Bias, Anchor Sunday Night Baseball Schedule

While I doubt anyone reading this has grown tired of living in an echo chamber that shouts back the news that the Chicago Cubs are world champs with a frequency that is only now decreasing, the rest of the baseball world may have heard enough. For those salty souls hoping the din would have subsided completely by the time the 2017 season rolls around, Wednesday’s press release announcing the early-season schedule for Sunday Night Baseball probably wasn’t welcome news.

ESPN Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell will return for its 28th season in 2017 as the exclusive, national Major League Baseball game of the week. The weekly, prime-time telecast will feature the sport’s top stars and best teams throughout the season, beginning with Opening Night– the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs visit their rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Schedule highlights include:

  • Five appearances by the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, including back-to-back matchups against the Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park, Apr. 30) and the New York Yankees (Wrigley Field, May 7);

  • ESPN to air Derek Jeter’s number retirement and plaque dedication prior to Houston Astros at New York Yankees matchup on May 14;

  • Bryce Harper, one of MLB’s most popular stars, is set to take center stage on Apr. 23 as his Washington Nationals face the New York Mets;

  • Four appearances by the St. Louis Cardinals (Opening Night vs. Chicago Cubs on Apr. 2; at New York Yankees on Apr. 16; at Chicago Cubs on June 4; at Chicago Cubs on July 23);

Only 12 matchups have been announced thus far (five still TBD), which means the Cubs account for over 40% of the Sunday Night schedule at this point. What’s more, three of the Cubs’ five appearances will come against Dexter Fowler and the Cardinals. There’s not a whole lot of balance, either, as only 11 teams — the Cards (4), Yankees (4), Mets (4), and Red Sox (2) fall in behind the Cubs — take up the 24 slots, with. The Marlins, Nationals, Astros, Pirates, Tigers, and World Series also-ran Indians were all thrown bones as well.

If not for Houston’s appearance on the list, the Cubs and Cards would really be the only solid arguments against the Four Letter’s oft-lamented affinity for the Eastern seaboard. Who knows, perhaps we’re just seeing the advent of a little Lake-coast bias. It stands to reason that we’ll also see further westward movement as the Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, and others figure to take up some of those open dates. Hey, maybe they can kill two birds with one stone when the Cubs are in Colorado on June 11.

They’re all listed above, but here are all five of those Cubs games:

April 2 at Cardinals
April 30 at Red Sox
May 7 vs. Yankees
June 4 vs. Cardinals
July 23 vs. Cardinals

A quick look ahead to the latter portion of the season reveals a few more opportunities for the Cubs to get additional prime time coverage. They face the Nats on August 6, the Blue Jays two weeks later, the Braves on September 3, and the Cards on September 17; all are Wrigley games. If there’s one real takeaway from this, it’s that we’ve still got to wait more than three months until we get real baseball again.

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