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.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.