ICYMI: Bulls, Sox & Cubs Release Upcoming Season Schedules

By Kyle Means (@Wrk_Wrt)

Some thoughts on the respective schedule releases of three of the five pro teams in Chicago on Monday, schedules which you can see below:

— the Blackhawks and Bears couldn’t possibly have released their schedules Monday but I wonder if they felt left-out in any way, like Squidward looking out the window…oh, who are we kidding? We’re talking about releasing schedules here. Not even doing it in a “pineapple under the sea” could make it that fun

— that said, maybe the Sox and Cubs could have sat this one out. Actually, MLB should have did better for itself than releasing on the same day as the NBA, which had ESPN’s “The Jump” do a special broadcast devoted to the Association’s schedule release and that was on top of NBA-TV devoting all their programming for the day to the schedule. Meanwhile, MLB news was relegated to the ticker on ESPN and MLB Network couldn’t do any blowout thing for schedule talk as their league had a full slate of games on Monday

— that’s the thing for the MLB — which spends more time each year playing its sport than anyone else — it doesn’t have the extended off-seasons that other sports (namely the NBA and NFL) use to parse out meaningful information to networks and fans and in which to plan large, publicity-eating roll-out events.

though they did a good job in leaking out info regarding their special stunt games like the “Field of Dreams” game and the next set of games in England for 2020 ahead of the proper schedule release, doing that at least fed into a run-up and it provided something to talk about outside of the current on-field exploits on both sides of one of the MLB’s most important markets, Chicago

yes, both the Sox and Cubs will endure some weird scheduling for the MLB’s sake next year, with the Cubs travelling to London to face the Cards in the second-ever regular season series on that side of the pond, while the Sox will have to pretend that Kevin Costner is still a big deal in 2020 and that playing in front of 8,000 people in Iowa in August is the best way to help Tim Anderson become a star. Still, the two stunts aren’t without their interest and they could be effective in shaking up two (hopefully) contending teams next year

— less helpful is the early-ass starts to the seasons for both Chicago teams, an enigma that MLB seems to have wrapped itself up in in order to make sure it has more attention in the media cycle for its opening days, while also helping the seasons end squarely in October instead of a week or two before Thanksgiving should the World Series go 6 or 7 games

playing meaningful baseball games before April 1 is stupid, its even more stupid to play some of those games in Chicago, where it will certainly snow and force the Sox’s opener at least to be actually played in June or July. Shorten the season to 144 games, do the stupid World Baseball Classic every year and do away with this shit

— not much to really go over with regarding the Bulls, everything is pretty much straight-forward with them (want to get a sense of the choicest games for the Bulls slate? Check out our man Tony Gill at the Score with his picks). And though it may seem slightly hypocritical, you’ll hear no screeching in this section about the NBA season starting earlier and earlier

– for 1, it actually works for the Association and 2, it doesn’t really matter when you play NBA games because they’re all inside. We abide by this traditional range of “somewhere in mid-Fall to the beginning of Summer” because its all we’ve known, but know that the NBA isn’t afraid to experiment with its formatting and when it does make bigger moves, they typically make sense no matter how jarring they may be at first. So get ready for “Columbus Day” doubleheaders at some point in the next decade or two

— hopefully by the time such changes do happen maybe the Bulls will be an appealing enough team to get placed in those showcase dates again. This coming year there will be nothing but rest on the holidays and only one “throw em a bone” ESPN game in January against the stacked Philadelphia 76ers. Again, no TNT action, which at least keeps the most meaningful streak in pro sports alive another year (yes it is, go argue with ya momma, or Stephen A. Smith)

— a more significant broadcasting footnote for the Bulls schedule is the one that states in the lower right hand corner that “all 82 regular season games to be carried on NBC Sports Chicago”…yes, for the first time since the 1988-89 season the Bulls do not have a scheduled game on WGN or any free channel. The same goes for the Sox and the Hawks and more famously for the Cubs, who are starting their own exclusive network

— you can read more about the changing broadcast landscape here. In short, after this September WGN will not be the go-to spot for sports in Chicago that its been for generations. Anyone who’s grown up really since the 1940s watching Chicago sports should feel some sort of way about that

— There’s still a chance that ‘GN will get some scraps from either NBC Sports Chicago or the Marquee Network, but the overall lack of options for those who don’t want to spend a bunch in carriage fees to simply follow their favorite teams in real time is heartbreaking and the more pressing matter than ‘GN maintaining a regular element of its broadcasting identity

As far as game access goes, the major league teams in town seem intent on pricing out many of its fans and that’s got to be a problem in a city like Chicago. It hasn’t seemed like it yet, but no one has missed any games yet either

Kyle Means is Editorial Director of WARR
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