What is the baseball without the Yankees? What would our national pastime be like without the pinstripes? The Bronx Bombers are notoriously hated, but they’re loved worldwide and as they push on in the second round of the playoffs, one thing has become clear- loved or hated, the team is good for baseball.
The magnitude of their star power, the drama of their wins, and the dominance so far in the playoffs has made this postseason worth the watch. It looks to continue to be so as Joe Girardi’s Yankees make a bid for their first World Series appearance in five years, and their first championship in eight. And this is good news for baseball.
It’s difficult to say whether this postseason was given more credence and attention by baseball fans thanks to the Yankees, or due to the other big market teams that joined them in the playoffs, but TBS is thanking its lucky stars this season. According to Anthony Crupi of mediaweek.com the Yankees return to the postseason after taking last year off has increased ad revenue noticeably.
It helps that the Yankees have been joined in the post season by other large market teams like the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Phillies. TBS recorded its best ratings in the postseason since 2005 and these were up 14 percent from last year. Though the first round of the series was filled with uneven match-ups and sweeps, the Yankees sparked some fireworks that must have been the most rating-worthy baseball of the season.
The Yankees have made the Minnesota Twins look like a postseason fluke and Los Angeles Angels look lost on the field. The Twins gave up the first and third game of the three game series sweep at the hands of the Yankees, but put up a fight in one of the best games of playoffs in game two. The Yanks were down late in the game, 3-1 in the eighth, and Twins reliever Matt Guerrier shut the top of the order down into the ninth. Closer Joe Nathan had to square off against the MVP of the Yankees this season, Mark Teixeira, and the traditionally cold postseason bat of Alex Rodriguez. Teixeira led the ninth off with a single, and Rodriguez tied the game with a homer into the Yankees bullpen. The Twins looked as though they had the game in the bag, but the Yankees have been able to show the world that they’re capable of winning any game in any situation. Teixeira earned the title of player of the game in this one with an eleventh inning homerun to end it all and dash the hopes to a Twins team that could have tied the series only two innings prior. The Yankees won the first walk-off victory of the postseason against the Twins, and their second in the second round against the Angels.
There was no lucky rally to save the Angels this time around against the Yankees. The Angels rocked their way into the second round after coming from behind in game three at Fenway Park against the Red Sox to win it in a three-run ninth inning. It was the momentum the Angels needed when squaring off against a Yankees team that didn’t need momentum to win a game. The Angels Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero give this team enough tools on offense to win some games, but C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett of the Yankees give their team enough to shut out a team that could win some games. The Angels came in as the clear underdogs, but were scrappy in two games they gave up to the Bronx Bombers in round two of the AL Division Championship.
The MLB playoffs come once a year and when broadcasted on FOX network, they ought to take down the other networks in the overnight Nielsen ratings; however (for some strange reason), the “Ghost Whisperer” and “Medium” on CBS drew in a million more viewers (8.21) each than the Angels/Yankees game. Of course, game one of the second round did take over the ratings at 7.79 million viewers by ten o’clock, but I guess that’s around the time that an eight o’clock game really gets interesting anyway. It was at this point, roughly around the eighth inning, where Sabathia was closing out the last inning of a gem of a game. Even Hunter had to admit, “CC’s the real deal. Man.” Mariano Rivera closed this game out to record his second save of the postseason off of a walk and a strikeout in the ninth. Not exactly a high drama finish to a postseason game. That would have to wait for game two of the series the following night.
This time around Fox dominated the ratings. I guess the Yankee hype that began in the beginning of the season more than half a year ago was starting to catch on. Fox took four million more viewers from the other major networks channels that night (9.07 million) and, according to the Neilsen ratings, this was the most-watched ALCS game on a Saturday since 2004. That’s a little bit of an obscure fact, but take it for what it’s worth. The playoffs haven’t been TV gold since the Yankees reigned as a dynasty in the 90s. Thanks to this 13-inning bonanza against the Angels, the Yankees reign again.
It was a cold fall night and the weather wasn’t conducive to a summertime sport. The game was tied 2-2 into the 11th, and the Yankees were rolling off of two and a third innings out of Rivera. Alfredo Aceves was brought in to relieve Rivera, but couldn’t handle the pressure as he allowed one hit, two walks, and one earned run in his late inning stint. In the bottom of the 11th, the Angels were up 3-2 and the game was in closer Brian Fuentes’s hands. And then Alex Rodriguez yanked the game away in the bottom of the 11th with a game-tying homer with two strikes. They Yanks couldn’t put an end to it there, but shut the Angels down into the 13th where pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. started the rally that would put an end to a fantastic, five-hour game. Angels’ pitcher Ervin Santana gave up a sacrifice to Brett Gardiner, intentionally walked Robinson Cano, and then threw what could have been an easy double play off a Melky Cabrera grounder to second. Unfortunately for the error-prone Angels (five in two games versus the Yanks), Maicer Izturis threw away the game with a poorly hurled ball to second. The Yanks won 4-3 in the 13th, and are three games away to another World Series appearance. And whether they face the Philadelphia Phillies or the Los Angeles Dodgers, they’re three games away from giving network executives and the MLB the best end to a season they could have asked for (though a match-up against former Yankee manager Joe Torre and the Dodgers would be ideal).
The Yankees have brought baseball back to the primetime. Derek Jeter and his two homers, .350 average, and four RBI are what we would expect from Mr. October. Rodriguez’s three game-tying homers in the postseason have finally legitimized his spot on the Yankees lineup. Sabathia’s two dominant performances in the playoffs have blown away the Twins and Angels. And the two walk-off wins by the one and only Yankees, have given viewers, both haters and fans alike, a reason to tune into baseball. New York is ready for another World Series and the nation is bound to watch. Are the Bronx Bombers good for baseball? TBS and Fox would say so. The question is where would baseball be without the Bronx Bombers?