Early on Friday morning, Bryan Hoch tossed up a brief post on the Yanks’ early spring TV ratings. Usually, no one outside a few suits at YES would care much about those numbers, but take a look at what Hoch had to say:
Yesterday’s YES Network telecast of the Rays-Yankees Spring Training game (1:00 pm) generated a 1.19 average TV household rating (88,000 TV households), making it the highest-rated weekday daytime Spring Training telecast ever on YES. The previous high was YES’ telecast of the Yankees’ game against Virginia Tech on March 18, 2008, which drew a 1.17 average TV household rating (86,000 TV households).
Keep in mind that this record-setting draw was for a mid-afternoon game on a Thursday in February, 39 days before Opening Day. While Phil Hughes started, he threw just two innings, and for the most part, a bunch of no-names destined for AAA or worse fought it out against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Of course New Yorkers wanted their first on-screen exposure to A-Rod since this whole steroid fiasco. Of course they wanted a glimpse of Mark Teixeira in those slimming pinstripes. Beyond that, though, 88,000 viewers on Day 2 of Spring Training in the New York area just shows a team that is popular beyond our conceptions of it.
This year, the Yankees are opening a new stadium, and they have the weight of baseball expectations surrounding them. They signed three of the top free agents this winter and are primed to make a run at October after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
People might hate the Yankees. They met resent the success and the spending. They might boo A-Rod. But while one game does not a trend make, it seems as though 2009 will be the Year of the Yankees in New York City. Everyone will watch; everyone will talk about it; and 53,000 fans a night will actually get to be there to see it all go down, obstructed view and all.
As the toast of the town, the Yanks will find it good to be top. I just hope they can fulfill the lofty expectations as people take the time now in February to turn on the Grapefruit League in record numbers.