Tigers add to local exposure

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

The roar has been restored for London baseball fans.

Buoyed by a surprise American League pennant victory and their first World Series appearance in 22 years, the Detroit Tigers have struck a deal with Fox Channel 2 (WJBK) -- which appears on Channel 43 for London cable subscribers -- to televise 18 games for the 2007 season.

Those games will be in addition to eight Saturday afternoon contests available on the channel through the Fox network's national game of the week.

The Tigers also will make two appearances on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, which is carried in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet.

The national games symbolize the return of the Motor City to prominence on the North American baseball scene, but it's the locally-televised games -- mostly slated for Sunday afternoons -- that should reconnect the Tigers with London, which housed the organization's Class-AA farm team at Labatt Park 15 years ago.

Detroit has not enjoyed a significant TV presence in London in much of the last two decades, since George Kell and Al Kaline were the broadcast team at NBC's WDIV.

Until last season when local ratings jumped 93 per cent, it wasn't a huge loss around here because the Tigers hadn't had a winning season since 1993 and endured an American League-record 119 losses in 2003.

"It's a huge win for our television station and for the market," Jeff Murri, vice-president and GM at Fox 2, told the Detroit News. "And the fans come out on top."

Before the move, even fans who purchased Major League Baseball packages on digital cable or satellite were shortchanged on Detroit games because the Tigers only had 128 of their games on TV last season. This year, 161 games -- all but an April 7 contest against Kansas City -- will be available on premium packages.

FSN Detroit's team of Mario Impemba and Rod Allen will be in the broadcast booth for the local telecasts.

TIGERS ON FOX 2

April 2 (Opening Day): vs. Toronto, 1 p.m.

April 8: at Kansas City, 2 p.m.

April 22: vs. Chicago White Sox, 1 p.m.

May 6: at Kansas City, 2 p.m.

May 20: vs. St. Louis, 1 p.m.

June 10: vs. N.Y. Mets, 1 p.m.

June 17: at Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m.

June 24: at Atlanta, 1 p.m.

July 1: vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m.

July 7: vs. Boston, 7 p.m.

July 8: vs. Boston, 1 p.m.

July 22: vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Aug. 5: vs. Chicago White Sox, 1 p.m.

Aug. 12: vs. Oakland, 1 p.m.

Aug. 19: at N.Y. Yankees, 1 p.m.

Aug. 25: vs. N.Y. Yankees, 7 p.m.

Aug. 26: vs. N.Y. Yankees, 1 p.m.

Sept. 15: at Minnesota, 7 p.m.


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