BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra is scheduled to broadcast a live MLB game for the first time next Sunday evening. Baseball fans across Britain will be sitting excitedly at their DAB radio or computer to listen to a top match-up from the American League as the Rays take on the Twins at Target Field from 19.00.
British-based baseball fans have longed for some good news telling us that our beloved sport would be available more widely once again ever since Five’s decision to discontinue their North American sports coverage at the end of 2008, ending a 13 year relationship with MLB.
While established baseball fans can take advantage of subscriptions to ESPN America (now in HD on Sky) and/or the great offerings at MLB.com, MLB’s disappearance from terrestrial TV has been a big blow in the campaign to attract newcomers to the sport.
This isn’t quite a return to TV coverage, but it’s the next best thing. Baseball suits the radio medium perfectly, in the same way that the BBC’s Test Match Special is the preferred way to follow England’s cricketing exploits for many people.
We don’t yet have details about whether this a one-off deal or a longer term arrangement, or quite what the programme format will be. The NFL coverage on 5 Live Sports Extra normally takes a local radio feed for the game (occasionally they provide their own commentary), with a UK-based studio providing analysis and news during breaks in the play. Arlo White, Neil Reynolds, Greg Brady and the rest of the ‘NFL on BBC’ crew take a similar approach to that of ‘Baseball on 5’: insightful analysis for both newcomers and established fans, with plenty of humour and audience interaction thrown in for good measure.
Hopefully the MLB coverage will take a similar format and it will be a regular programme. ‘Baseball on 5’ didn’t just provide us with MLB games, it was the focal point for the British baseball community. It’s not quite the same without the likes of Jonny Gould and Josh Chetwynd bringing us all together and if the BBC coverage can take on that role, it will be great news for us all.
19:00 –23:00 Sports Extra Baseball
Commentary on Tampa Bay Rays against Minnesota Twins on American independence day.
Who would have thought that a quick glimpse at the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra schedule could bring so much joy?
UPDATE: As noted by Chris in the comments, it’s been confirmed that Jonny and Josh will indeed be hosting the show. Roll on Sunday evening!
We are provisionally planning to run a live blog during next Sunday’s game. More details will follow nearer the event.