It wasn’t more than a few years ago that ESPN execs were cautioning that live games coverage was a business fraught with problems.

You had no guarantee that games, scheduled far in advance, would end up pitting strong teams against each other, they said. More than that, there was no guarantee that even if you were fortunate enough to have 2 strong teams, their meeting would result in a close game (ie, one that would keep viewers interested).

These reasons and more are why ESPN diversified, and now features original films, sports debate shows and almost non-stop highlight shows.

All that aside, while Atlanta’s Braves playing New York’s Mets constitutes a traditional rivalry, there’s no chance ESPN could have predicted tonight’s Braves-Mets contest (7pm, ESPN; local coverage in NY on SNY and in Atlanta on Peachtree TV) would have so much in its favor.

Below are 5 reasons to watch tonight’s game:

1.    The Mets are scheduled to start Johan Santana, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, who happens to be white hot at the moment, pitching to an ERA less than 1. Mixing a 94-mph fastball with a deadly changeup has helped the lefty average better than a strikeout per inning so far this season.

2.    The Braves will counter with Derrick Lowe, the new ace of their staff, whom the Mets coveted last winter but failed to land. The wily 35-year-old sinkerball specialist is a throwback who regularly flings in excess of 100 pitches per game, unheard of in today’s 6-inning starting pitchers. Both Lowe and Santana come in sporting nifty 4-1 records.

3.    The  Mets are the hottest team in baseball, having won 7 in a row as they come in to tonight’s game. The Braves, while stumbling a bit early, have just won 4 of 5 on their road trip. Ironically, after floundering they seemed to find their game against Florida’s Marlins.

4.    Citi Field, the ballpark the Mets opened 3 weeks ago, has won rave reviews from fans and the press, much of that for its cuisine. The Wall Street Journal gave its array of food choices a solid win over the new Yankee Stadium, which cost twice as much to build. Watching a broadcast about a great place to eat will not result in viewers intaking excess calories.

5.    I plan to name my first born after Johan Santana. Regardless of gender. 

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