It was a busy day for American sports fans. A full early series of college football games that were exciting to watch happened as a Yankee slugger tried to hit a record number of home runs.
Not a Yankees fan? Not a baseball fan at all? Do you care more about the college football games that are 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 cusp of tying Roger Maris’ American League single-season home run record of 61, ESPN made the decision to two-box the Yankees-Red Sox broadcast on 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 suddenly muted the play-by-play call of the college football games, while the audio and photos of Michael Kay and the YES Network while Judge was at work.
Pictured is one of three ESPN and ABC cuts for 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. Judge’s at bat in the 7th inning was not shown on ABC – as Clemson and Wake Forest were in the middle of overtime. ABC showed the result of his at bat – a strikeout – after a hiatus in college football action.
However, during Judge’s 3rd inning and 5th inning at bats, touchdowns were scored in the Wake Forest-Clemson game. First, early in the 3rd quarter, Wake Forest took the lead with a pass from Sam Hartman to Donavon Greene to lead 21-20.
Then, later in the same quarter, as the cameras moved to Yankee Stadium, Clemson QB passed DJ Uiagalelei for a touchdown, then converted a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28.
Judge failed to hit a home run to match the record on Saturday, forcing his race for a 61st and 62nd to be abandoned for another day.
As the broadcast drifted to Judge, Clemson scored a 2-point conversion to tie the game
Judge ended the day 0-3 with two strikeouts, but the Yankees held out and won the game
In a country as obsessed with college football as the United States, the programming decision was an affront to anyone watching at home.
Social media was on fire over ESPN’s decision-making. Some quoted that the network did the same in the summer of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home race. However, anger was the main emotion on Twitter.
“Forcing ESPN people to watch baseball is despicable,” wrote one Twitter user.
“There are a hundred ways to watch games these days, let the baseball people go and watch baseball,” said another.
One user sarcastically wrote: ‘Clemson goes for 2 to even the game…and we’re watching Aaron Judge dive into the batter’s box live.’
Others criticized the choice to stop in a match as important as a battle between two ranked teams. An outraged tweeter said, “Why am I missing crucial 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 their outrage when ESPN cut to the Yankees-Red Sox game
Other users on Twitter took advantage of this moment to mock others and point out that this has happened before.
“As a baseball fan, I think it’s cool to cut out for a chance to see history. As someone who likes to see everyone get mad, I think they should leave the box alone for the entire game. Including commercials,” one user wrote.
Another pointed to the historical context and said, ‘I’m fine with this TBH. It reigned during the McGwire/Sosa season.”
But overall, the choice was too much for some to bear. A user begged ESPN to stop cutting the games.
‘@espn if I had wanted to watch baseball I would have turned on baseball. Stop randomly changing the game I’m watching to see a guy get out skipping important rides I’m interested in.