INAUGURAL YEAR OF WILD CARD GAMES DRAW INCREASED INTEREST
Early ratings indicate that the newly added games to the Major League Baseball postseason are a success. The MLB Wild Card games doubleheader on Friday, Oct. 8 on TBS averaged a 3.7 overnight household rating, according to Nielsen, which marks a 12 percent increase from the 3.3 average overnight rating for TBS’s coverage of all Division Series games in 2011. Even more impressive was the 61 percent ratings increase over the 2.3 overnight rating for the first day of the MLB year-ago playoffs in 2011, which featured the American League Division Series, Game 1 matchup between Texas and Tampa Bay on Friday, September 30, 2011.
In the night’s first Wild Card game, a National League matchup where the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves by the score of 6-3, a controversial call by an umpire was made against Atlanta. An apparent misplayed fly ball by the St. Louis fielders dropped in the outfield when two Atlanta runners were on-base. However, the play was officially ruled as an “infield fly” and therefore caused the Atlanta batter (Andrelton Simmons) to be called out. In theory, an infield fly rule is in place to prevent the scenario of a fielder from purposely not catching a short pop-up to then catch multiple runners on the bases off-guard.
Much debris littered the field by the home Atlanta crowd, as a result, and the game was delayed for approximately 20 minutes.
The nightcap featured the American League Wild Card game where the visiting Baltimore Orioles defeated the two-time defending A.L. champion Texas Rangers 5-1. Baltimore’s success has been one of the most surprising baseball stories of 2012. Meanwhile, the Texas loss was the conclusion of a devastating collapse. Despite leading their American League West division from early April, the Rangers lost 7 of their final 9 games of the regular season, including a season-ending 3-game sweep by the eventual division winners, Oakland Athletics.