As baseball games get longer and longer, the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game became problematic for many. An 8 p.m. ET start wound up with games ending too late for many on the East Coast. And players who had to travel to another city for a game the next day wound up with less rest. This happened to the Cubs last Memorial Day weekend, when they had to play a 7 p.m. CT game at Wrigley Field against the Giants and then another one less than 19 hours later, at 1:35 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh. (Interestingly, the Cubs won both of those games.)
Likely as a result of players asking for a bit more rest, the Worldwide Leader announced Monday that Sunday Night Baseball games will begin at 7 p.m. ET — 6 p.m. CT — in 2019, with a couple of exceptions.
They also announced a handful of Sunday Night matchups for this season, two of which involve the Cubs:
The June 16 date at Dodger Stadium will thus have a first pitch at just after 4 p.m. local time. Late-afternoon starts in California have often been subject to complaints by West Coast fans, but a late Sunday afternoon start is probably less problematic than a similar time on a weekday.
The Cubs return home to face the White Sox after that June 16 date in Los Angeles, but they will have an off day June 17 and the June 18 game vs. the Sox is at 7:05 p.m., so they should have enough rest before that game.
Teams can have a maximum of five appearances per season on SNB, so I’d expect some other Cubs games might be chosen for such an appearance. The Sunday, May 5 game at Wrigley Field against the Cardinals seems like it could be one of those choices, as Cubs/Cardinals games generally do good numbers for ESPN. Sunday, May 12 at Milwaukee could be another one chosen. ESPN’s dates beyond the ones shown above should be finalized in the next few weeks.
The Cubs game against the Rangers at Arlington on Sunday, March 31, will also be carried by ESPN, with a start time of 3 p.m. CT.