Sunday Night Baseball
Sunday Night Baseball is the flagship baseball telecast of ESPN. It is the sole game played on Sunday evenings during the MLB regular season and is broadcast to a national television audience. In effect, it is the successor of the old Game of the Week telecasts that were crucial in bringing major league baseball to a nationwide audience starting in the late 1950s. Sunday Night Baseball does not have quite the same cultural relevance as its predecessor, given the television audience is much more fractured today than it was four or five decades earlier, but it still remains an important touchstone among baseball fans.
The program started in 1990, and for its first broadcast until 2010, the announcing team consisted of Jon Miller as play-by-play broadcaster and Joe Morgan as analyst. Others joined the team for short periods, either as a third person in the booth or as a field reporter. In 2011, a new team comprising Dan Shulman and Bobby Valentine was introduced, with Valentine replaced in following years by Terry Francona and then John Kruk. Others like Curt Schilling and Aaron Boone also spent time in the booth during that time, until a new group including Jessica Mendoza and Alex Rodriguez was introduced in 2016. Shulman was replaced by Matt Vasgersian in 2018, with Buster Olney as the field reporter.
ESPN broadcasts other games during the week, but these are in competition with local broadcasts, and as a result draw in smaller audiences, baseball being at its heart a local game. However, the Sunday Night broadcasts takes advantage of being the literal "only game in town" by featuring marquee match-ups and having announcers dwell on national stories affecting baseball, and not just the game at hand. MLB has also made an effort to schedule special games such as the Little League Classic to ensure they land on the prime Sunday Night Baseball slot.