Of the seven billboards around Atlanta promoting the start of the playoffs, Jeter, the All-Star shortstop who has been with the Yankees since 1995, is on five of them. Around the country, TBS has similar billboards featuring St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. Jeter is on 60 percent of them.
The Yankees are crucial to getting casual viewers to tune into playoff games in the early rounds, [TBS President David Levy] said . . . “It’s essential for them to get higher ratings at those events to get the viewership and advertising revenue they want,” [sports consultant Marc Ganis] said. “And no team generates the interest and the eyeballs, particularly in the playoffs, that the Yankees do.”
Russell Martin? Really? That’s the best they could do for L.A.?
Anyway, the larger point — explained in extensive financial and television ratings detail in the linked article — remains: the Yankees draw eyes, and eyes draw dollars. It’s still worth discussing whether the networks and media at large focus too much on the big city east coast teams, but any such conversation that doesn’t take this business reality into account first isn’t an informed conversation.
The Red Sox, who won the AL East last season with a 93-69 record, have under-performed so far this season, entering Wednesday’s action with just two more wins than losses at 23-21. The club hasn’t had a winning streak of more than two games since April 15-18. As a result, manager John Farrell may be on the hot seat, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Tuesday.
Beyond the mediocre record, Rosenthal cites two incidents that happened this season that caused Farrell’s stock to drop. The first was the brouhaha with the Orioles when Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia at second base, causing Pedroia to suffer an injury. When reliever Matt Barnes intentionally threw a fastball at Machado, Pedroia was seen telling Machado, “It wasn’t me. It’s them.” The word “them,” of course, would ostensibly be referring to Barnes and Farrell.
The second incident happened last week when pitcher Drew Pomeranz challenged Farrell in the dugout after being removed with a pitch count of 97. Rosenthal suggests that some of Farrell’s players aren’t on the same page as the skipper.
Rosenthal also mentions that Farrell didn’t have the entire backing of the Red Sox clubhouse in 2013, when the club won the World Series. So the issues this year may not be unique; they may be part of a larger trend.
The biggest impediment in making a managerial change for the Red Sox is having a good candidate. After letting Torey Lovullo leave after last season to manage the Diamondbacks, the team’s two most likely interim candidates would be bench coach Gary DiSarcina and third base coach Brian Butterfield. DiSarcina has one year of managing experience above Single-A (Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013). Butterfield hasn’t managed in 15 years.