You can visit www.orioles.com/schedule for the Baltimore Orioles’ schedule in 2013. If you do, you’ll notice one very subtle difference that we haven’t seen in awhile. I would direct you to the date April 14th, which is a Sunday (the second Sunday of the season to be exact). The O’s are scheduled to take on the New York Yankees at 8 PM that night. Yes folks, you read that correctly…8 PM on a Sunday night. That means that the Orioles will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball that week in the finale of a weekend series in New York.
Not counting a doubleheader late in a season (which culminated on a Sunday evening) or a playoff game, the last time the Orioles were featured on Sunday Night Baseball was September 21, 2008. Ironically, that game was also in New York against the Yankees; the final game in the old Yankee Stadium to be exact. However the sole reason the Orioles were playing in prime time that Sunday was because they happened to be the Yankees’ opponent in the final game at the venerable old ballpark. This time around the circumstances are a bit different. The O’s had a surprising season last year, culminated by a tough playoff series against those same New York Yankees which went to the bitter end. So the league felt compelled enough by the Orioles’ 2012 season to throw them into the “game of the week” early in 2013.
It’s almost a shame that this game isn’t at Camden Yards so that the city of Baltimore could actually host the “game of the week,” however I suppose you have to work your way up to hosting a Sunday nighter. I’m a huge fan of Sunday Night Baseball, and I feel that the entire package (with the Baseball Tonight highlight show of the rest of the games around the league preceding the game itself) is very well done by ESPN. Similar to the NFL, I feel that Sundays in Major League Baseball are special days. For the most part, everyone plays afternoon games, generally starting during the 1 o’clock hour (local time). You then have the option of watching the aforementioned Baseball Tonight on ESPN to see the rest of the highlights from around the league, and the day is culminated by one game that’s featured in prime time on national TV. And for one week in April, that game will feature the Orioles.
The Orioles are also scheduled to be featured in prime time on Sunday Night Baseball on July 21st at Texas. However that game could also be changed because the league has the option of utilizing what the NFL calls “flex-scheduling” in the second half of the season. I would presume that the O’s will be featured on FOX’s Saturday telecasts at various times throughout the season, and in similar fashion FOX television has the option of picking and choosing it’s games. National TV exposure doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve “arrived” by any means. As the Orioles’ previous appearance on Sunday Night Baseball shows, sometimes you’re only there as a conduit of sorts. However the fact is that ESPN and MLB thought that this game would generate excitement among viewers, so they picked it for national television. The Orioles and their fans are certainly hoping that the Birds are able to live up to the billing.