Say what you want about the Worldwide Leader in Sports and its coverage of MLB the last several years, but ESPN has now put together an impressive series during this COVID-19 pandemic. As part of “MLB Encore Tuesdays,” ESPN will begin airing classic baseball games every Tuesday through most of April, starting tonight. Also, ESPN+ — ESPN’s premium subscription — will unveil its first collection of classic MLB games today, a group of 13 perfect games or no-hitters.
ESPN to showcase baseball's greatest games with #MLB Encore Tuesdays
⚾️ Featuring several of the most iconic & memorable MLB games every played
Begins Tuesday | 7 p.m. ET | ESPN, ESPN App
March 31 | ESPN+ unveils its first MLB game collection
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) March 30, 2020
The first game of “MLB Encore Tuesdays” features the Braves-Mets game from September 21, 2001 — just days after the terrorist attacks that shook our entire country. It was the very first game in New York since the attacks and will air tonight on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. (EST).
Why this game matters: I’m sure all of you that were old enough can do the same, but I remember exactly where I was when 9/11 occurred. I was just a 5th-grader at the time and didn’t fully understand just how devastating and historic that day was, but I quickly discovered that it would most likely be the most significant event in my lifetime.
Well, for many people today, the current coronavirus outbreak that’s spreading throughout our world may be the most significant event in their lives, which makes tonight’s game on ESPN that much more important. One of these days, baseball will return from this, just like it did back in 2001.
Without spoiling actual details from the game, for those that maybe haven’t seen it before, the 2001 season for the Braves was one of the last few years of the team’s 14-straight division titles — a season in which the Braves finished with 88 wins and lost to the Diamondbacks in the ’01 NLCS in 5 games (the D’Backs would go on to win that year’s World Series). The Braves, leading the division by half a game, traveled to Shea Stadium for a three-game series that weekend, with Game 1 that Friday on September 21. Jason Marquis took the mound for the Braves, while Bruce Chen started for the Mets, with 41,235 fans in attendance.
If you watch the game tonight, you’ll see why Chipper Jones loved Shea Stadium so much, but it was someone from the Mets that turned in an MVP performance that night, perhaps solidifying his entire 16-year big league career as a Met. Also, throwback guys like Brian Jordan, Marcus Giles, Javy Lopez, and many many more were in the Braves’ lineup during that time, which is must-watch TV.
All-in-all, this is a game the entire country should plan to watch, especially given the situation our nation and world are currently facing. I’m not sure exactly what it will feel like to re-watch such a historic game (I haven’t seen it since it was live almost 19 years ago), but I can imagine at least one takeaway will be obvious… and that’s that no matter what the circumstances, baseball has always found a way to survive. I’m sure like on September 21, 2001, our game today will do just that.