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ESPN makes change months after Yankees 'Sunday Night Baseball' controversy


ESPN is changing it up months after succumbing to the Yankees desires.

Baseball players in need of more snoozing, rejoice.

The network announced Monday it is moving up the starting time of the nationally televised Sunday game by one hour, with the first pitch planned for shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern.

The Yankees were at the center of ESPN controversy last season, albeit in a much more complicated scale.

The club threatened to boycott ESPN after being scheduled for an 8 p.m. Sunday night game against the Blue Jays in Toronto, as it was already known that Aaron Boone’s team would have to travel to Baltimore afterward to make up a doubleheader the following day.

Aaron Boone. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

“Anytime you have the potential of a night game traveling into a doubleheader, the first thing I worry about is player safety and the product on the field,” Boone said at the time. “Hopefully those things go into the decision-making process.”

MLB eventually changed the Yankees-Blue Jays game to an afternoon start time. There likely would have been a similar conflict had this change been in effect, but ESPN now is taking a step in the right direction to ensure a little more player safety.

ESPN started the "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast in 1990, and it developed in a showcase time slot, but players who had to travel after games complained they reached the next city at dawn, disrupting their sleep schedules ahead of the next series.

Major League Baseball has been more cognizant of player health issues in recent years. As part of the collective bargaining agreement that started in 2017, baseball scheduled earlier start times for many weekday games on getaway days beginning last season.

MLB also is nearing an announcement on broadcast coverage for its first games in Britain, between the champion Red Sox and the Yankees on June 29 and 30. Fox is likely to televise the Saturday game and ESPN the Sunday game.

Associated Press contributed to this report