An excerpt from my Tribune column on how things are not equal in Chicago:
Yet only one of the Chicago teams is scheduled to be featured prominently on national TV during the first portion of the season. Care to take a guess?
In the some-things-never-change department, naturally it is the Cubs. The networks are ready to ride the Theo Epstein train this year while taking a wait-and-see approach on Rick Hahn’s work with the Sox.
The Cubs were tabbed for the much-hyped major-league season opener Sunday night with their game against the Cardinals being shown on ESPN2. The “Baseball Tonight” crew will converge on Wrigley Field for special coverage and the network’s top team of Dan Shulman, Curt Schilling and John Kruk were on the call.
Meanwhile, the Cubs also are scheduled for five national games on Fox, including three Saturday prime-time telecasts.
As for the Sox, not so much. They don’t have a game listed on ESPN‘s Sunday night schedule and their only Fox telecast thus far is a Saturday night game against the Tigers on June 6 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Now these TV schedules aren’t set in stone. ESPN’s Sunday night slate is listed only through May with the exception of two additional games in July. Fox has a “schedule subject to change” disclaimer, so the Sox should get national coverage if they perform.
Of course, therein lies the difference between the two teams: The mere promise of a dramatic turnaround has the networks salivating to get in on the Cubs’ action.
“Like the Red Sox, the Cubs have fans scattered throughout the country,” Shulman said. “For TV, the teams that move the needle are the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants and Detroit. Those are the top-echelon teams. Everyone else has to fight for more national TV.”
The White Sox are in the “everyone else” category. Schilling, though, is high on the Sox’s moves. He hopes to see them pop up on ESPN’s Sunday night schedule.
“They’ve got some fun players to watch,” Schilling said. “If they win, they’ll find a way to get on TV.”