Angels, Pujols fit for prime time

At the very least, the Angels will make two appearances on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. They’ll probably make more, since the maximum amount of times teams are allowed to be on is five.

But in announcing part of its “Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell” schedule on Wednesday, ESPN listed the Angels twice — when they play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 15, and when they play the Rangers in Arlington on May 13. The Yankees and Rangers — which, in case you hadn’t heard, just added Yu Darvish — were listed three times in the recently released schedule, which covers only partly through July 15.

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will debut in the Sunday Night booth this year, ESPN wrote, alongside play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser.

ESPN still has a lot left to finalize its schedule. It’s still missing five Sundays between June 3 and July 1, and 11 Sundays between July 22 and Sept. 23. Talking to in December, vice president of programming Mike Ryan said ESPN would look to maximize its Angels coverage because they fit their quota now that Albert Pujols is on board.

“Certainly, Albert takes the Angels to an entirely new level,” Ryan said. “We’re in the business of bringing Major League Baseball to a national audience. In order to do that, we need to have competitive teams – the Angels have been competitive. We generally have success with teams from a large market — and the Angels are from a large market, obviously. And then we look to, if we have those two factors, we then consider the marketable stars, the recogizable stars. And the Angels have been competitive, they’re in a big market and they have recognizable stars.”

Game selections for the remainder of the season will be made three weeks (for all remaining June and July games) or two weeks (for August and September) in advance.

 Here’s a look at what ESPN has announced so far (all times 5 p.m. PT) …
* April 8: White Sox at Rangers
* April 15: Angels at Yankees
* April 22: Yankees at Red Sox
* April 29: Rays at Rangers
* May 6: Phillies at Nationals
* May 13: Angels at Rangers
* May 20: Cardinals at Dodgers
* May 27: Nationals at Braves
* July 8: Yankees at Red Sox
* July 15: Cardinals at Reds


And the Angels have been competitive, they’re in a big market and they have recognizable stars.”

Although pre-season predictions shluod be taken with a pound (versus a grain) of salt, I find it most interesting how much the media’s perception of the Red Sox has changed in just short one year.

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