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Brewers Shut Out of Sunday Night

ESPN has announced its Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the first half of the season, and the Brewers aren’t slated to appear a single time (h/t HardballTalk). The schedule through mid-July:

April 3: San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers (ESPN2)
April 10: N.Y. Yankees at Boston
April 17: Texas at N.Y. Yankees
April 24: Cincinnati at St. Louis
May 1: N.Y. Mets at Philadelphia
May 8: Atlanta at Philadelphia
May 15: Boston at N.Y. Yankees
May 22: Chicago Cubs at Boston
May 29: Cincinnati at Atlanta (ESPN2)
June 5-July 3: TBD
July 10: N.Y. Mets at San Francisco
July 17: Boston at Tampa Bay

Looking at the Brewers’ slate of Sunday games through that final announced date, it looks like The Worldwide Leader whiffed on a few opportunities to get the new-look Brewers on national TV.

April 3 @ Cincinnati
April 10 vs Chicago
April 17 @ Washington
April 24 vs Houston
May 1 @ Houston
May 8 @ St. Louis
May 15 vs Pittsburgh
May 22 vs Colorado
May 29 vs San Francisco
June 5 @ Florida
June 12 vs St. Louis
June 19 @ Boston
June 26 vs Minnesota
July 3 @ Minnesota
July 10 vs Cincinnati
July 17 @ Colorado

The first game we can really dispute is May 8 — ESPN will be carrying Braves at Phillies, while the Brewers will be playing in St. Louis. Both are division games between expected contenders. Atlanta-Philly should be good, but the pitching performances we could see in Brewers-Cardinals is more worthy of a national stage, isn’t it? Also, May 8 is actually the second straight week the Phillies will be on SNB — they host the Mets the week before they play the Braves. Why not take the opportunity to mix some more variety into the schedule?

May 29 is another date that could be debated — Cincinnati at Atlanta is the game slated for primetime, while the Brewers host the Giants. Again, both the Reds and the Braves should be in the race that early in the season, and were playoff teams a year ago. I can understand why the ESPN execs picked that game. But that Brewers-Giants series should be more entertaining, and with all due respect to Joey Votto and Jason Heyward, it should also have more star power that would be appealing on a national level. It’s nearly impossible to project pitching probables that far in advance, but you have to figure that series is bound for at least one incredible showdown.

June 5 to July 3 are listed as TBD, and there are a few possibilities there that could be picked up: June 12 vs the Cardinals, June 19 at Boston (the most likely game to be picked up, in my opinion), and one of the games against the Twins, either in Milwaukee (June 26) or Minnesota (July 3). Those could all be attractive games to a national audience, and especially considering there’s an Interleague match-up against the Red Sox during that stretch, it’d be pretty upsetting if the Brewers didn’t find their way onto national TV at least once during that stretch.

Of course, it’s probably important to remember that ESPN picks the games during the first half of the season based on who was good the prior season, and if I had to guess, these decisions were made before Doug Melvin starting dealing like a madman in late December. If the Brewers are as good as expected heading into the All-Star Break, it seems likely that they will have more games picked up in the second half of the season — especially if the division race is tight down the stretch.