Sports Business Journal has an analysis of this year’s TV rantings out. The Cardinals are on top in terms of ratings, the Yankees — not surprisingly — lead in total viewers. The Indians have had the biggest rating increase, with an 80 percent jump over viewership last year. The Rays have seen the biggest drop, with a 37 percent falloff.
I get what’s animating the Cardinals, Yankees and Indians’ numbers, but I’m not sure how one can explain the Rays’ drop. They had healthy TV ratings before so I guess they had more room to drop, but I’m not sure what would inspire the drop. They’re still playing good baseball. Lots of exciting young talent. Were people really just tuning in to look at Carl Crawford’s neck tattoo?
And because you were curious, I’m sure, both the Mets and the Dodgers have suffered precipitous declines in local television rankings. The Mets’ local ratings are down 29 percent from midseason last year; the Dodgers’ ratings are down 27 percent. The Dodgers’ drop makes more sense. The Mets have been pretty solid on the field, so maybe the bad feelings from the business side of thing just linger. I have no idea.
Overall, 16 teams’ ratings have dropped, 13 have increased and one has remained flat. Not sure which one that is, because SBJ doesn’t produce the whole list. I’m going to guess that it was the Seattle Pilots, whose rating have stayed more or less the same since 1969. Remarkable consistency there.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.