Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post notes
that viewership for the Nationals’ television broadcasts is up 56
percent so far this season, which sounds great until you realize that
increase basically amounts to 3,000 extra people watching each game.
According to Steinberg the Nationals are now averaging about 12,000
viewers per game, which is “easily the worst in the country” and “about
a third the television audience of every other U.S. franchise” save for
the A’s. For comparison, the Orioles are averaging 34,000 viewers per
game and the Yankees lead baseball at 320,000.
I’m absolutely shocked by an MLB team drawing only 9,000 or 12,000
television viewers per game, but apparently my perception of baseball’s
popularity within each market is simply way off base. In looking at Sports Business Journal‘s chart showing viewership numbers, nearly every team is significantly under what I’d have guessed.
Only the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Mariners, Tigers,
Dodgers, and my beloved Twins have an average TV audience over 100,000
people, and the Nationals and Orioles are among nine teams that average
fewer than 50,000 viewers per game.
As expected, Major League Baseball’s league-wide home run record, set in 2000, was tied and surpassed on Tuesday night, both by players named Alex who play for AL Central teams.
Tigers outfielder Alex Presley tied the record at 5,693, per MLB.com’s David Adler, with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against Athletics starter Daniel Gossett. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon broke the record roughly 12 minutes later with a solo home run to lead off the top of the eighth inning against Blue Jays reliever Ryan Tepera.
Major League Baseball saw the record nearly broken last year, when 5,610 home runs were hit. The only other season above 5,500 was 1999 at 5,528.
Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.
The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.
Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.