The MLB The Show 20 Players League playoffs will air on ESPN and ESPN2 starting April 23.
While the world waits for real-world sports to start up again, several professional sports have turned virtual to help fans get their fix in the meantime. This includes Major League Baseball, which started the MLB The Show Players League. The league features 30 real-life players battling each other with their real-life squads in MLB The Show 20.
The games are streamed live on the players’ Twitch and Youtube channels, as well as the channels of Sony San Diego and MLB Network. Several major leaguers, such as Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell and Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, have prior streaming experience while others are streaming for the first time.
Now ESPN wants to get in on the action. Starting April 23, ESPN will air the regular-season finales and the league’s playoffs live along the streams on Twitch and Youtube. The best-of-three quarterfinals and semifinals will air May 2 on ESPN2, while the best-of-five championship will air on ESPN May 3.
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Joey Gallo’s Texas Rangers are in first with a 17-3 record, followed by the New York Mets, represented by second baseman Jeff McNeil; the Rays, represented by Blake Snell; the Los Angeles Dodgers, represented by second baseman Gavin Lux; the Chicago White Sox, represented by pitcher Lucas Giolito; the San Diego Padres, represented by shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.; the Toronto Blue Jays, represented by shortstop Bo Bichette and the Baltimore Orioles represented by outfielder Dwight Smith Jr.
ESPN has a history of esports broadcasts. The network has broadcast Dota 2’s The International and League of Legends’ World Championships since 2014. ESPN has also broadcast Madden, Street Fighter V and Overwatch League games. However, this is the first time the network has broadcast virtual baseball.
The league has been a joy to watch and a great way to pass the time during the coronavirus pandemic. One has to wonder what the viewership will be for the games: not because of the nature as esports, but because you can’t get Twitch drops from watching television.