It was a busy day for American sports fans. An entire early list of college football games that were exciting to watch happened while a Yankee slugger was trying to hit a record number of home runs.
Not a Yankees fan? Not a baseball fan at all? Are you more interested in college football games going on? Well, you have no choice. At least that’s how some fans saw ESPN’s programming decision-making.
With Aaron Judge on the verge of breaking Roger Maris’ American League single-season home run record of 61, ESPN made the decision to double-box the Yankees-Red Sox telecast on the YES Network with two games on ABC and ESPN.
Fans watching No. 5 Clemson @ no. 21 Wake Forest on ABC and Missouri @ Auburn on ESPN had the play-by-play call from the college football games suddenly muted as the audio and visuals from Michael Kay and the YES Network cut in as Judge was up to bat.
Pictured is one of the three times ESPN and ABC have cut to Aaron Judge hitting at Yankee Stadium
It was shown only three times – when Judge was at the plate in the 1st, 3rd and 5th innings. Umpire’s 7th inning at-bat was not shown on ABC – as Clemson and Wake Forest were in the middle of overtime. ABC showed the result of his hit — a strikeout — after a break in college football action occurred.
However, during Judge’s 3rd inning and 5th inning at bats, the Wake Forest-Clemson game saw each touchdowns scored. First, early in the 3rd quarter, Wake Forest took the lead with a Sam Hartman pass to Donavon Greene to go up 21-20.
Later in the same quarter, when the cameras went to Yankee Stadium, Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei passed for a touchdown and then converted a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28.
Judge failed to hit a home run to tie the record on Saturday, leaving his run at 61st and 62nd for another day.
As the broadcast went away to Judge, Clemson scored a 2-point conversion to tie the game
Judge finished the day 0-3 with two strikeouts, but the Yankees held on to win the game
In a country as obsessed with college football as the United States, the programming decision was an affront to all those watching at home.
Social media was ablaze with anger over ESPN’s decision-making. Some cited the network doing the same in the summer of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run. However, rage was the main emotion on Twitter.
“ESPN forcing people to watch baseball is despicable,” one Twitter user wrote.
“There are a hundred ways to watch games today, let the baseball people go watch baseball,” said another.
One user sarcastically wrote: ‘Clemson goes for 2 to tie… and we watch Aaron Judge dig into the batters box live.’
Others criticized the choice to cut into a game as important as a matchup between two ranked teams. One upset tweeter said: ‘Why am I missing critical plays in this Clemson game so ESPN can cut into a Yankees game? I could understand if USF was playing, but presumably college football fans want to watch the college football game?’
College football fans expressed outrage when ESPN cut away to the Yankees-Red Sox game
Other users on Twitter used the moment to mock others and to point out that this has happened before.
‘As a baseball fan, I think it’s cool to cut away to get a chance to see history. As someone who likes to see everyone get mad, I think they should keep the box up the whole game. Including commercials.,’ one user wrote.
Another pointed out historical context, saying: ‘I think it’s fine TBH. It reigned during the McGwire/Sosa season.’
But all in all, the choice was too much for some to bear. One user asked ESPN to stop cutting the games.
‘@espn if I wanted to watch baseball I would have turned on baseball. Stop randomly switching the game I’m watching to see a guy come out while skipping important drives that I’m interested in. There are enough commercials that you can cut to show highlights of other sports ,’ wrote a distraught user.