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)
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.