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MLB Network Fills Out Regular Season Lineup

MLB Network is ready for Opening Day. After a winter of hot stove talk, the A-Rod steroid scandal, and the World Baseball Classic, the network is set to put on the spikes and premiere their ambitious nightly studio show, MLB Tonight.

Starting on Opening Day, Apr. 6, MLB Tonight, an all-evening baseball analysis show that will run until the end of the night’s final game, will begin airing.  The show will run six nights a week at 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. On Thursday nights it will lead in to the network's Thursday Night Baseball broadcasts.

“The number of hours is a pretty massive undertaking on a daily basis,” said MLB Network president Tony Pettiti in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. 

The show will feature analysis, highlights, and live in-game look-ins. The network plans to have two cameras (one in either the first or third base-side camera wells and one in centerfield) in every ballpark, allowing them to conduct pre and post-game interviews on the field. The live game look-ins will come from local RSN feeds, Pettiti said. The object is to “duplicate the feeling you get on March Madness on a nightly basis,” he said.

The network is still working out the perameters of how long the live look-ins will be, an issue the commissioner’s office is handling with local RSNs. 

The most obvious competitor in the nightly baseball market is ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds said the length, access, and features like Studio 42, the channel’s mock-ball field are what will make the show unique. “The extended show allows you to start the story, bring people forward, and then finish the story in one night,” Reynolds said.

Matt Vasgersian, the show’s in-studio host, said the show will “evolve or devolve” depending on ones point of view into “three or four guys talking about baseball for eight hours a night which is really exciting for us.”

Pettiti agreed.  “It’s going to be a really good summer to be a baseball fan, that’s for sure.”