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ESPN Keeps Sunday Baseball Lineup

February 18, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ ESPN has scheduled an entire season of Sunday night baseball. Don’t count on all the games being shown, however.

The final three games on ESPN’s schedule released Wednesday conflict with the cable network’s NFL telecasts, raising the possibility that baseball will pull those games off ESPN for the second straight year.

ESPN wants to move the games to ESPN2 to accommodate its $4.8 billion deal with the NFL. Baseball officials didn’t allow that move last year and aren’t expected to change their stance this season.

``We’re still negotiating. Nothing has been resolved,″ baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.

An ESPN spokesman said the network and baseball are in ongoing discussions in an attempt to resolve the matter.

ESPN’s contract with baseball states that games can only be moved to ESPN2 with baseball’s permission. That condition cannot be ``unreasonably withheld,″ but baseball officials were unwilling to grant that permission last year because they refused to take a back seat to another sport during their pennant race.

Baseball has agreed to move games to ESPN2 in the past, and did so last May in order to accommodate the NHL playoffs. But baseball wouldn’t allow it last September _ ESPN’s first with an entire season of the NFL _ and gave the rights back to the local television stations.

Viewers missed the night Cal Ripken ended his record consecutive games streak at 2,632 games. They also missed one of Mark McGwire’s contests against the Houston Astros.

This year’s conflicting games are scheduled for Sept. 12, 19, and 26. The games are Milwaukee at Colorado, San Francisco at San Diego and Houston at Milwaukee.

ESPN is available to about 76 million homes while ESPN2 is available in about 63 million.

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