Not the same old story: Rangers, Angels and Nationals dominate ESPN’s early Sunday night schedule

'Duk
Big League Stew

ESPN just released the first eight weeks of its "Sunday Night Baseball" schedule (plus a few random dates) and, yes, they're going to be showing at least two Red Sox-Yankees games. One on April 22 and one just before the All-Star break on July 8.

The good news, though, is that it looks like they're also developing a few other pets that we're not used to seeing. Five of the first eight dates feature the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels or Washington Nationals.

Here are the games that the network has tabbed so far:

(All telecasts at 8 p.m. ET)
April 8 Chicago White Sox at Texas
April 15 L.A. Angels at N.Y. Yankees
April 22 Yankees at Boston
April 29 Tampa Bay at Texas
May 6 Philadelphia at Washington
May 13 Angels at Texas
May 20 St. Louis at L.A. Dodgers
May 27 Washington at Atlanta
June 3-July 1 TBD
July 8 Yankees at Boston
July 15 St. Louis at Cincinnati
July 22-Sept 23 TBD

It's apparent that ESPN is banking on Angels-Rangers becoming the type of league-leading rivalry we all think it might. I'm also guessing they're rolling the dice on those Nationals games including a) a Stephen Strasburg start, b)Prince Fielder at first base or c) both. That May 6 game against Philly will be interesting, though, considering that roadtripping Phillies fans have packed Nationals Park for the past few seasons.

As far as the glaring omissions go, it looks like ESPN has a bit of ground to make up with its remaining unannounced dates. While the first slate has a good share of playoff teams, the Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers are nowhere to be found. Same goes for teams with large fan bases like the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, though I bet they want to see how each team does before giving them three or four hours of prime broadcast real estate.

Want more Big League Stew all winter long?
Follow 'Duk on Facebook and Twitter!