Blue Jays Grapefruit action at TD Ballpark in Dunedin won’t be blacked out completely, it turns out.
According to a press release from the Blue Jays, Sportsnet will be airing “a minimum of 10 games” this spring. We already knew that Sportsnet would be airing a handful of away games produced by other teams and networks, but this release states that Sportsnet will be producing three games of their own with the Blue Jays’ broadcast crew.
Here’s Sportsnet’s full broadcast schedule for spring, with the in-house produced home games bolded…
- Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ NY Yankees (Watch on Sportsnet)
- Friday, Mar. 12 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Pittsburgh – (Watch on Sportsnet)
- Monday, Mar. 15 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Detroit – (Watch on Sportsnet)
- Saturday, Mar. 20 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Philadelphia – (Watch on Sportsnet)
- Sunday, Mar. 21 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – NY Yankees @ Toronto (Watch on Sportsnet; Listen on Sportsnet Radio Network)
- Monday, Mar. 22 at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT – Detroit @ Toronto (Watch on Sportsnet; Listen on Sportsnet Radio Network)
- Wednesday, Mar. 24 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ NY Yankees – (Watch on Sportsnet)
- Saturday, Mar. 27 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ NY Yankees – (Watch on Sportsnet)
- Sunday, Mar. 28 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Detroit @ Toronto (Watch on Sportsnet; Listen on Sportsnet Radio Network)
- Monday, Mar. 29 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Philadelphia – (Watch on Sportsnet)
Three games isn’t much, but it’s better than what we were hearing a couple of days ago when Rob Longley reported that Sportsnet wasn’t planning to produce any spring games themselves.
The idea of having our only look at this new and exciting Blue Jays team come through the lens of opposing broadcasts unsurprisingly received a lot of pushback from fans, and Mark Shapiro even went out of his way to mention how Sportsnet TV and radio make business decisions independent of the Blue Jays and that the team would like to air as many games as possible.
Shapiro emphasized the distinction: Sportsnet TV and radio make their own business decisions. The #Bluejays would love for those decisions to include as much TV and radio of spring training games as possible. https://t.co/ssfJL4IXUx
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) February 24, 2021
With that in mind, I imagine that the team put some pressure on the decision-makers on the TV and radio side to get some broadcasts on the air.
I mean, as I mentioned the other day, exhibition games at 1:00 pm ET don’t necessarily move the needle in terms of viewership (and there’s also a pandemic going on which makes sending a whole crew down to Florida a bit difficult). But given the fact the team went out ant spent $200 million on baseball players this winter, you’d think having people watching the team would be a priority.
Two of the slots they’re producing are prime Sunday afternoon games while one is an evening game, so you can clearly see Sportsnet is avoiding those early-afternoon weekday slogs. There are also a few other evening games towards the end of March, which is generally when casual fans become more interested in baseball, so maybe more broadcasts will be added to the schedule later on.
Another interesting note is that Dan Shulman, Buck Martinez, and Pat Tabler will be the crew for both TV and radio broadcasts while Ban Wagner is mentioned as “part of the Blue Jays on Sportsnet broadcast team.” That doesn’t give us any clues as to what the radio booth will be during the regular season but we know that for spring training, at least, it’ll just be the TV feed on the radio.
It isn’t much, but it’s better than previously expected.