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Sportsnet Announce Their Spring Training TV Broadcast Schedule (And It Kinda Sucks)

The Blue Jays open their 42nd season in the Grapefruit League later on this month, and for my money it’s due to be the most interesting Spring Training the club has had in at least a few years. There will be all kinds of storylines to watch:

What happens with all these outfielders? Are Tulo and Travis healthy? Who emerges as the club’s fifth starter? Which intriguing names will be brought in late and cheap thank to the game’s molasses-slow player-unfriendly free agent market? When do we get our first glimpses of Vlad and Bo? Will any other prospects make noise? Will Marco Estrada really look like himself again? How is Aaron Sanchez’s finger? Who takes the backup catcher job? Does Morales look like he’s got anything left? Will we get a visit from José Bautista on his next team? Etc., etc., etc.

And so, naturally, Sportsnet will be slightly cutting back on the number of games they’ll be televising this spring.

“All 31 Blue Jays Spring Training matchups available on the Sportsnet Radio Network or Sportsnet.ca; eight televised games to air on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW,” says a release from the network. The radio stuff is great — and in that respect we’re better off than a whole lot of fan bases, frankly — but as far as the TV broadcasts go, a year ago the number was eleven.

Here is the list of games that will be televised by Sportnset, per the release.

  • Friday, February 23rd vs. Philadelphia (1 PM ET)
  • Sunday, February 25th vs. Detroit (1 PM ET)
  • Saturday, March 10th vs. Detroit (1 PM ET)
  • Sunday, March 11th vs. Pittsburgh (1 PM ET)
  • Saturday, March 17th vs. Canadian Juniors (1 PM ET)
  • Sunday March 18th, vs. Pittsburgh (1 PM ET)
  • Monday, March 26th vs. St. Louis (in Montréal, 6:30 PM ET)
  • Tuesday, March 27th vs. St. Louis (in Montréal, 6:30 PM ET)

Woof.

Now, I know games probably aren’t cheap to produce, and that maybe the cost outweighs the benefits given the mild interest in Grapefruit League baseball, but on the other hand… seriously?? I definitely don’t expect anybody to be trucking their full broadcast equipment and crews into visiting parks, but including split squad games, the Jays will play 34 times this spring, and sixteen of those will be at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Sportsnet will broadcast just six of those sixteen. (Cue SportsnetOneLogo.JPG).

There are occasionally games broadcast by networks covering the Blue Jays’ opponents that will end up available on MLB.tv, and sometimes on Sportsnet or MLB Network as well. So far, however, there is scant evidence that there will be a bounty of extra games to be seen — in fact, as far as I can tell, there is just one. According to WKEN, YES is supposedly broadcasting the Jays and Yankees match on March 24th, however, there is a note on that page that they still need to confirm that this is really the case.

Elsewhere in the Grapefruit League, Detroit’s spring TV broadcast schedule has been announced, and they won’t be offering any Jays games in addition to the ones Sportsnet already has. The Twins’ broadcast schedule is also out, and there are no extra Jays games on it, either. Ditto the Rays, unsurprisingly.

The Orioles have announced a bunch of games that will air on radio, but I’m not seeing any mention of TV broadcasts — meaning either that announcement is yet to come, or that they won’t have any (I’d bet the former on that).

As yet there don’t seem to be broadcast schedule announcements from the Pirates, Phillies, Barves, or Red Sox. Fingers crossed there, I guess.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      Right. A lost opportunity to spend money on a broadcast that they obviously can’t sell ad time for, to provide free baseball to you. What dumb folk they are.

  • ThatDrunkGuy

    See, if they actually showed more games on TV, it would cut into there “Make people pay for 6 Sportsnet branded channels, play poker on 5 of them all afternoon” strategy.

    I think you’ll all see the problem they have here.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Geez, I wonder it that has something to do with how much the broadcast costs, and how much expected revenue would come from it. #Biz101 in a small baseball market.

  • Barry

    Since my job is 9-5, M-F, I’m not going to spend a lot of time watching spring training games during the week, and they don’t make for great PVR material. So, it’s the weekend games that I’d be watching.

    I’d prefer they showed the first Saturday game rather than the spring opener. Aside from that, every Saturday and Sunday is covered except for the weekend of March 3-4, which is gameless on TV, and that is weird. Perhaps there is other sports content airing on Sportsnet those days. (Also weird. The other sports don’t matter.)

    Truth be told, spring training games are usually tedious snoozefests. We always approach them knowing that the regulars will get pulled after two or three at bats, and that the pitchers are building their innings, but we tell ourselves we’ll get a good look at some prospects … and that’s not UNtrue, but a LOT of at-bats and innings go to guys who aren’t on the roster and are long-shots to even play in the big leagues — ever. And it’s tough to watch full spring training games and be entertained from start to finish, given that the players generally don’t care about the score, and the announcers usually stop paying attention and bring guests into the booth to kill time until they see the teams leaving the field and know it’s time for dinner.

    I don’t mean to shit on spring training games, because they have plenty to enjoy, and yeah, even watching the career minor leaguers get some hacks in can be fun. And who doesn’t get tired of the annual Gabe Gross types?
    Sure, there’s plenty of fun to be had … but personally, I don’t need to watch every game. I’d just like to have every weekend game covered.

    • The Humungus

      I’m lucky. We have a TV in our office (which is a large shared space; small business, only 6 employees), so we’ll have those weekday spring games on in the office.

      Sure, it’s boring. But it’s better than no baseball.

      • Barry

        Yeah, I probably sounded more negative than I meant to. I do like having the games on. I only really “watch” for about an hour, but there’s something wonderful about just having a game on the TV as I’m going about whatever I’m doing around the home on a weekend afternoon. I might not be paying close attention, but the game is there, and that’s a nice thing.

  • Oakville Jays

    I think it would be a good idea for the Jays to broadcast more spring training games. It would help get fans excited about the prospects that the team hopes will make the team in a few years. Couln’t they replay game at night? More baseball is never a bad idea.

  • Kristen Sprague

    I’ve been saying for a while, how fucking hard is it to send the B team broadcasting crew to a few more spring training games especially when you have a cagillion Sportsnet channels and you own the fucking team? But sure, show us championship darts on a February afternoon