Well, that took long enough.
The NL Central rivalry game was originally scheduled for the traditional Sunday start time of 1:35, but it was changed along with three other home dates for national broadcast purposes. ESPN will televise the game against St. Louis as part of its long-running “Sunday Night Baseball” franchise.
The Pirates have appeared on “Sunday Night Baseball” once since PNC Park opened in 2001, but they were on the road. Pittsburgh’s previous appearance on the national showcase was May 19, 2002 in Houston, while the Bucs’ last home game in ESPN’s exclusive prime-time window occurred on July 28, 1996, a 12-8 win over the Phillies at Three Rivers Stadium.
This news continues a theme of rejuvenation for the Pirates, who finished over .500 and make the playoffs last year – the first time they’ve achieved either since 1992. As the club finds itself in the unfamiliar environs known as relevance, additional national exposure should follow.
May 11 won’t be the first time the Pirates grace ESPN cameras in 2014, as their March 31 matchup with the Cubs has been bumped up to 1:05 p.m. to accommodate the four-letter network’s Opening Day coverage. Pittsburgh’s home games on May 24 (Fox) and Aug. 30 (Fox Sports 1) will also be on national TV.