Ripken Game Had Been Moved off ESPN
By Josh Dubow
Sunday, September 20, 1998; 10:12 p.m. EDT
Cal Ripken sat, and most of the nation wasn't able to watch it.
A dispute that arose earlier this summer between ESPN and major league baseball cost viewers nationally the chance to see Ripken on the night he decided to take himself out of the Baltimore Orioles' starting lineup.
Sunday night's New York-Baltimore game originally was scheduled to be ESPN's final Sunday night telecast of the season.
But baseball pulled ESPN's final three Sunday night games off the cable network last month instead of allowing them to be moved to ESPN2 to accommodate ESPN's new $4.8 billion, eight-year deal to televise NFL games.
"We remain disappointed we weren't able to bring this game to 60 million homes on ESPN2,'' ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Sunday night.
ESPN's contract with baseball states that games can only be moved to ESPN2 with baseball's permission. That condition cannot be "unreasonably withheld,'' but baseball officials were unwilling to grant that permission in this case because they refused to take a back seat to another sport during their pennant race.
Baseball had agreed to move games to ESPN2 in the past, and did so last May in order to accommodate the NHL playoffs.
ESPN, which is available in about 74 million homes, showed the Arizona-Philadelphia football game Sunday night.
ESPN2 aired a taped boxing match.
The Yankees-Orioles game, the first Ripken has not started since May 30, 1982, was shown on Madison Square Garden network in New York and Home Team Sports in Baltimore.
Some fans in other parts of the country were able to watch on satellite television. The game also was broadcast on ESPN radio.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press