Let the countdown to MLB Opening Night begin.
ESPN announced today that its 23rd Major League Baseball season will begin with a full national telecast of MLB Opening Night — the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals at the new-look Miami Marlins — on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. ET.
Not only will the game feature the debut of new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and All-Star Jose Reyes, it will also mark the grand opening of Marlins Park.
The Cardinals will begin their World Series title defense with the All-Star of trio of Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and recently acquired Carlos Beltran, in the heart of the order.
The champs, a new stadium and a lot of star power: This sounds like the right ingredients for a memorable Opening Night.
“We want to serve the fan by presenting the best Opening Day action we can,” says Mike Ryan, ESPN Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions.
“We’re very excited to showcase the Marlins’ new ballpark and the defending World Champion Cardinals on Opening Night.”
As Ryan says, the beginning of the MLB season is not just another day to baseball fans.
“MLB’s Opening Day has always been a holiday of sorts. People take time off from work and school just to be there for that first game. On Opening Day, everyone is equal. Every team has a chance to win the World Series.”
In total, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine for five games over the first three days of the season. The full schedule is included in ESPN’s season-opening press release.
Thursday, April 5: AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers will play host to the Boston Red Sox, followed by the Marlins visiting the Cincinnati Reds.
Friday, April 6: NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks will play host to the San Francisco Giants, followed by the Kansas City Royals visiting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“We always look for the best games available to us, like Boston at Detroit, and the best storylines, like Albert Pujols’ debut as an Angel,” Ryan said.
With additional storylines like Bobby Valentine’s managerial debut with Boston, the addition of CJ Wilson to the Angels’ rotation, and the Reds’ free-agent pitching acquisitions, ESPN’s season-opening games cover all the bases.