I did not know that NBC had not aired an MLB game since Game 6 of the 2000 American League Championship Series between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees. The broadcasters were Bob Costas and the late Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, and Game 6 was the end of the road for the Mariners.

It had been 7,873 days since NBC had broadcast a game. This is the same network that was for so many years associated with MLB — think of the game of the week, the World Series and so, so many All-Star Games.

That has all changed thanks to a novel programming gambit by MLB and NBC/Peacock that will bring you a game early every Sunday. The first edition of this new deal aired from Fenway Park May 9, with the Chicago White Sox taking on the Boston Red Sox.

The first of 18 broadcasts was on NBC in addition to the Peacock streaming service, though the rest will stream exclusively on Peacock. The next five Sunday games will also start at 11:30, with the remaining 12 weeks of the package scheduled to start at noon. The deal also gives Peacock the exclusive window for baseball from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

In addition to the 18 games, Peacock will also air MLB documentaries and be the home of the Futures Game, played on the Sunday before the All-Star Game.

“As consumption habits continue to evolve, it is important for us to provide new ways for fans who are outside the cable bundle to watch MLB games,” MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden said in a release announcing the NBC/Peacock package.

The play-by-play voices from Fenway May 9 were very familiar to White Sox and Red Sox fans. Former Orioles right-hander Steve Stone, now an analyst for the White Sox, was working alongside his regular White Sox TV play-by-play man Jason Benetti. They were joined by Red Sox analyst and former Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis.

The trio of Benetti, Stone and Youkilis was perfection as to how a game should be announced. Not sure if every week will have local announcers as part of the broadcast, but you got keen insights into the two teams from a crew familiar with the two teams.

Week 2 will feature the San Diego Padres and the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves.

Here are my MLB power rankings:

1. New York Yankees (19-8, No. 1 last week): It seemed unfair to really gauge any movement when the Yankees didn’t play for three days with an off day and two rainouts. They weathered it well enough to hang on to the No. 1 spot. Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino continue to give Yankee fans reason to breathe a lot easier.

2. New York Mets (20-10, No. 2): The same is pretty much true of the Mets, but the big news was their comeback win in Philadelphia May 5. Manager Joe Girardi declined to use his closer with a 7-1 lead. It turned out to be a bad idea to go to a fringy reliever with an ERA north of 8.00. When the Mets rallied to get close, he rushed in his closer Corey Knebel. Girardi learned the hard way that it’s really difficult to turn that adrenaline rush on once a closer mentally shuts it down.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (19-7, No. 4): The amazing story is how Clayton Kershaw is pitching his way back into relevance and reentering the discussion of the best pitchers in the game. But the Dodgers know that shoe could drop at any time.

4. Houston Astros (18-11, No. 8): The Astros enjoyed a 7-0 week. One or two more hot weeks and they can be right in this thing competing for the top spot. The rotation is now six deep. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, José Urquidy, Jake Odorizzi and Christian Javier have all looked really good. Ryan Pressly blew a save in his first game back off the injured list, but he is a big help at the end of games.

5. Milwaukee Brewers (19-10, No. 5): I promise I’ll think of more than Christian Yelich updates each week in my comments on the Brewers, but get a load of this. In his past nine games, Yelich has raised his batting average from .197 to .248. During that span, he has hit .343 (12-for-35 with three homers, three doubles and nine RBIs) with a BABIP of .391. It’s been a long time since he has smoked the ball like this.

6. Toronto Blue Jays (17-13, No. 3): First small bump in the road for Charlie Montoyo’s squad, as the Jays went 2-5 last week. Losing two out of three to the Yankees at home wasn’t so bad, but losing three of four to a struggling Guardians club is a bit disconcerting. Jordan Romano continues to really lock down in the ninth, but the bullpen bridges are a bit squeaky. The road trip continues with two at Yankee Stadium and three down in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Rays.

7. San Diego Padres (19-10, No. 7): The Padres had a solid 4-2 week that featured taking four of four at home against the red-hot Marlins. They had 2-1, 3-2 and 3-2 wins during the series, the last of which featured a ninth-inning comeback from down 2-0. Good teams win close games. Not something you could have said about the Padres during the Jayce Tingler era.

8. San Francisco Giants (16-12, No. 6): After the year they had in 2021 (winning 107 games), I guess a 9-10 stretch looks a little bit like disaster. Manager Gabe Kapler’s offense is going to need to kick into another gear if they intend to go toe-to-toe with not just the Dodgers, but perhaps a Padres squad that should be mentally tougher than in years past.

9. Tampa Bay Rays (18-11, No. 15): West Coast trips can always be a bit difficult, so winning six in a row at Oakland and Seattle was impressive. Tampa Bay is getting some much better starts now that Drew Rasmussen is in gear and Ryan Yarbrough has reemerged. The Rays have three more games on the West Coast against the Angels and then come home to take on the Blue Jays. Tough week ahead.

10. Minnesota Twins (18-11, No. 10): The Twins won the first two games in Baltimore as part of a four-game series and then saw the O’s punch back by taking the last two. The Twins also lost Dylan Bundy to COVID-19 after he was bombed by the Birds and then lost star shortstop Carlos Correa, who had a finger hit by a pitch. It was feared he could have been out more than a month, but tests revealed no fracture or break. He is now day-to-day. Not the way the Twins were looking forward to a tough week of home games — three apiece against Houston and Cleveland.

11. St. Louis Cardinals (16-12, No. 13)
12. Los Angeles Angels (19-11, No. 9)
13. Chicago White Sox (14-13, No. 17)
14. Atlanta Braves (14-16, No. 14)
15. Cleveland Guardians (14-14, No. 20)
16. Colorado Rockies (16-12, No. 19)
17. Miami Marlins (13-15, No. 12)
18. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-14, No. 23)
19. Seattle Mariners (13-16, No. 11)
20. Boston Red Sox (10-19, No. 18)
21. Philadelphia Phillies (12-16, No. 16)
22. Texas Rangers (11-15, No. 26)
23. Pittsburgh Pirates (11-16, No. 28)
24. Kansas City Royals (9-16, No. 25)
25. Baltimore Orioles (11-17, No. 27)
26. Oakland Athletics (10-18, No. 22)
27. Chicago Cubs (9-18, No. 24)
28. Detroit Tigers (8-19, No. 21)
29. Washington Nationals (10-20, No. 29)
30. Cincinnati Reds (5-23, No. 30)

Stan Charles

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