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Nightengale: Yankees Threaten to Boycott ESPN over Schedule

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New York Yankees' Aaron Judge watches his three-run home run against the Seattle Mariner during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 21, 2017, in Seattle. Photo: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

By Nancy Armour |

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are in negotiations with ESPN to reschedule a New York Yankees game that would require them to start three games within 24 hours in two different cities, officials informed USA TODAY Sports.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity since talks are ongoing.

The Yankees are so furious that ESPN scheduled a July 8 Sunday Night Baseball game in Toronto, which precedes a doubleheader the next day in Baltimore, that they have threatened to boycott ESPN reporters the rest of the season, according to a person familiar with their protest.

The Yankees reached out to the Commissioner’s office after learning of ESPN’s plans while the players requested assistance last week from the union to intervene on their behalf.

The sides are cautiously optimistic that a resolution can be reached, with the Yankees saying it would be a health, safety and integrity issue.

The Yankees, who agreed Thursday to make up a rainout game against the Orioles on July 9 by playing a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m., said they never would have chosen the option if they had known ESPN was switching their July 8 game from 1 p.m. in Toronto to 8 p.m.

The Yankees, in first place in the AL East, would likely not arrive to their Baltimore hotel until about 5 a.m., and then have to play a doubleheader at Camden Yards that has now been switched to 5 p.m. ET.

If the July 8 game is not moved back to its original time, the Yankees say they would no longer cooperate with ESPN, which certainly would be uncomfortable for manager Aaron Boone, who was the Sunday Night Baseball analyst before accepting the Yankees’ managerial job.

“Anytime you have the potential of a night game traveling into a doubleheader,’’ Boone told reporters, “the first thing I worry about is player safety and the product on the field. Hopefully those things go into the decision-making process. …

“Hopefully there’s something that can be done that maybe changes that situation.’’

The Yankees have already had seven games rained out this season, and have three doubleheaders scheduled in the next month.

“Hopefully, Major League Baseball and everybody involved,’’ Boone said, “is looking at this smartly.”

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, USA Today. Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook.

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