Monday Night Baseball
|Monday Night Baseball|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7th Season (with ESPN)|
|Running time||3 hours (approximate)|
|Original network||NBC (1967-1975)
|Original release||April 7, 2002 – Present (ESPN)|
|Followed by||Baseball Tonight|
|Related shows||Sunday Night Baseball
Wednesday Night Baseball
Monday Night Baseball is a live game telecast of Major League Baseball that airs most Monday nights during the regular season on ESPN. The official name of the game is Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA. The game starts at 7 p.m. ET, following SportsCenter, and usually lasts around three hours leading up to an hour-long Baseball Tonight. The program sometimes airs on ESPN2 rather than ESPN, often due to NBA playoff coverage in April and May, and preseason Monday Night Football coverage in August.
Unlike ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball is not exclusive, but also unlike Wednesday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball (beginning in 2007) will co-exist with the local markets' carriers and will not always be subject to blackout. Starting with the 2007 season, ESPN can show teams up to three times a year in local markets.
Several things changed to Monday Night Baseball in the eight year television contract that ESPN signed with Major League Baseball on September 14, 2005. Unlike Sunday Night Baseball, the game is non-exclusive, meaning it will co-exist with the teams' local carriers. However, Monday Night Baseball will be allowed to co-exist with local carriers up to three times per club, per year. Beyond that, telecasts will be blacked out in the participating teams' markets (Baseball Tonight is shown in its entirety, beginning at 10:00, with the rest of the nation joining after the game).
Beginning in 2007, there was expected to be an afternoon "batting practice" program generally from the site of the Monday Night Baseball game (similar to the pre-game shows for ESPN's NFL coverage). That program was scheduled to debut on April 9, 2007 at 4 p.m. Eastern time, before the New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins game. However, no batting practice show appeared for reasons that were not explained. Later, ESPN announced that it would also scale back its on-site presence for NFL games.
Because ESPN airs Monday Night Football games, beginning with the pre-season in mid-August, Monday Night Baseball games move to ESPN2 for the NFL pre-season, and starting in 2009, the Monday night telecast has been moved to Wednesday night to form an MLB doubleheader with the regularly scheduled Wednesday Night Baseball. On some occasions ESPN will have two scheduled games aired simultaneously, with the Monday Night game airing on ESPN and the Wednesday Night game on ESPN2. Both telecasts are branded with the Wednesday Night Baseball name, but Dave O'Brien, Rick Sutcliffe and Aaron Boone still call one of the two games.
In the past, the Monday night team would broadcast on Friday night during the NFL season instead of doing the Wednesday night doubleheader format, though this was changed recently as ESPN opted to air some games with division and wild card implications; they also air on Tuesdays in the same manner. Monday Night Baseball also uses the K Zone, a computer-generated on-screen graphic that accurately outlines the strike zone and pitch location.
A complete list of broadcasters, with their period of tenure on the show (beginning years of each season shown).
- Dave O'Brien: (play-by-play, 2002–2007, 2013–present)
- Aaron Boone: (analyst, 2010–present)
- Mark Mulder: (analyst, 2014–present, First Half Of Season)
- Dallas Braden: (analyst, 2015–present, Second Half Of Season)
- Erin Andrews: (field reporter, 2004–2007)
- Tony Gwynn: (analyst, 2002–2005)
- Orel Hershiser: (analyst, 2008–2010)
- Tim Kurkjian: (field reporter, 2011–2014)
- Sean McDonough: (play-by-play, 2011–2012)
- Steve Phillips: (analyst, 2008–2009)
- Dan Shulman: (play-by-play, 2008–2010)
- Chris Singleton: (analyst, 2010)
- Rick Sutcliffe: (analyst, 2002–2007, 2011–2013)
On May 10, 2006 after a long day of drinking and golfing with comedian Bill Murray, MNB analyst Rick Sutcliffe attended a night game between the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers in San Diego. He was invited to the booth with 4SD broadcasters Mark Grant and Matt Vasgersian where he began a rambling and incoherent interview by saying, "It ain't that busy, it ain't that busy." He then rambled on about off-the-wall subjects such as George Clooney and his daughter's "mission." After he asked Matt Vasgersian what he was still doing in San Diego, his microphone was finally cut off.
As a result, he apologized and ESPN suspended Sutcliffe for one game the next week.
Past history (1967-1988)
The NBC years (1967-1975)
Monday Night Baseball was born on October 19, 1966 when NBC signed a three year contract to televise the game. Under the deal, NBC paid roughly $6 million per year for the 25 Games of the Week, $6.1 million for the 1967 World Series and 1967 All-Star Game, and $6.5 million for the 1968 World Series and 1968 All-Star Game. This brought the total value of the contract (which included three Monday night telecasts each season) up to $30.6 million.
From 1972–1975 NBC televised Monday games under a contract worth $72 million. In 1973, NBC extended the Monday night telecasts to 15 straight (with a local blackout). September 1, 1975 saw NBC's last Monday Night Baseball game, in which the Montréal Expos beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5.
Curt Gowdy called the Monday night games with Tony Kubek from 1972 to 1974, the pair being joined in 1973 and 1974 by various guest commentators from both in and out of the baseball world. Jim Simpson and Maury Wills called the secondary backup games. Joe Garagiola hosted NBC's pregame show, The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola, and teamed with Gowdy to call the games in 1975.
The ABC years (1976-1988)
ABC would pick up the television rights for Monday Night Baseball games in the following year. Just like with Monday Night Football, ABC brought in the concept of the three-man-booth (originally composed of Bob Prince, Bob Uecker, and Warner Wolf as the primary crew) to their baseball telecasts.
Ratings were typically poor for ABC's Monday night games, and by 1986, ABC only televised 13 Monday Night Baseball games. This was a fairly sharp contrast to the 18 games to that were scheduled in 1978. The Sporting News suggested that ABC paid Major League Baseball to not make them televise the regular season, opining that the network only wanted the sport for October anyway. For most of its time on ABC, the Monday night games were held on "dead travel days" when few games were scheduled. The team owners liked that arrangement, as the ABC games didn't compete against their stadium box offices and local telecasts. The network, on the other hand, found the arrangement far more complicated; ABC often had only one or two games to pick from for each telecast from a schedule designed by Major League Baseball. While trying to give all of the teams national exposure, ABC ended up with a surplus of games involving games between either small-market teams and/or teams with losing records.
In 1989 (the final year of ABC's contract with Major League Baseball), ABC moved the baseball telecasts to Thursday nights in hopes of getting a leg up against NBC's Cosby Show. The network also aired some late-season games on Sunday afternoons.
The FX cable channel aired Monday night games in 1997. The series returned in 2002 as ESPN (which, like ABC by that point, was owned by The Walt Disney Company) created a package under its deal for national cable rights.
ABC's MNB announcers
- Gary Bender (1987–1988)
- Don Drysdale (1978–1986)
- Keith Jackson (1977–1982; 1986)
- Jim Lampley (1977–1979)
- Al Michaels (1976–1989)
- Bob Prince (1976)
- Gary Thorne (1989)
- Bob Uecker (1976–1982)
- Lou Brock (1980)
- Norm Cash (1976)
- Howard Cosell (1977–1985)
- Don Drysdale (1978–1986)
- Bob Gibson (1976–1977)
- Tim McCarver (1984–1989)
- Joe Morgan (1988–1989)
- Jim Palmer (1984–1989)
- Steve Stone (1982–1983)
- Bob Uecker (1976–1982)
- Earl Weaver (1983–1984)
- Bill White (1976–1979)
- Warner Wolf (1976–1977)
- Sunday Night Baseball
- Wednesday Night Baseball
- Thursday Night Baseball
- Fox Major League Baseball
- Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio
- ESPN Major League Baseball broadcasters
- Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio broadcasters
- List of current Major League Baseball announcers
- Sports Business Daily
- Press Release: ESPN’s Signature MLB Franchises Return - Sunday, Monday and Wednesday Night Baseball
- Monday Night Baseball at the Internet Movie Database
- Baseball on ESPN.tv
- MLB on ESPN.com
- Searchable Network TV Broadcasts