Yankees starting pitcher Pettitte puts his face into his glove as he comes off the field after giving up a run in the fourth inning against the Angels in an MLB baseball game in Anaheim

Yankees dropping in attendance, ratings

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Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal has some interesting figures in his latest column about the Yankees:

Through Wednesday, the average ratings for Yankee games on the YES Network were down 38% compared to the same period last season, according to Nielsen figures.

The drop is even more remarkable when you consider that last year’s ratings were the Yankees’ lowest since 2003.

In the stands, the trend has been similar, if not quite as pronounced. The Yankees are drawing an average home crowd of 39,103, still the fourth highest in baseball but a 6% drop from what it was over the same period in 2012.

The Yankees have been without most of their recognizable faces this year, namely Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, so that is one explanation. Costa also notes that the team has had to compete with the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, and Islanders as all four made the post-season in their respective sports.

Ultimately, though, despite the Yankees’ ability to hang around first place in the AL East in the face of adversity, they do have a philosophical debate to address with Robinson Cano’s pending free agency. Is their attendance and viewership buoyed by the presence of marquee players? If so, Costa writes, they may feel that keeping Cano in town no matter the price and no matter the contract length is imperative.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.