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Ratings for the MLB All-Star Game were up this year, but does that really tell the whole story?

Television ratings are a funny thing. The spin that can come out of the numbers can drive reports in wildly divergent directions. In sports, ratings can be spun to say that the popularity of a given league or club is high or low, depending on those feeding the information. Of course, leagues and clubs love to tout growth, while detractors can spin numbers negatively. For Major League Baseball, ratings have been used to show that the game’s popularity is on the rise, while others have pounded keys to say that it’s a “dying sport.”

So, which one is it? As is often the case in data analysis, the truth can lie in the middle. Before we get started, let’s give a quick primer on what the ratings numbers mean.

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Earlier this week, we talked about what the future of baseball's national TV contracts might look like. Here's a glance at their past.

While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audiencesend us your suggestion.

Earlier this week, Maury Brown examined the future of baseball's national TV contracts. For a look at its past, revisit the piece reproduced below, which was originally published as a "The Imbalance Sheet" column on September 28, 2000.
 


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David Robertson walked two consecutive batters on Saturday night, which was something he'd done either zero or 12 times before, depending on whom you ask.

Tim McCarver is a baseball broadcaster. His job is to talk during the hours that a baseball game is in progress—usually about baseball, but sometimes about TV shows, if a FOX sitcom star happens to be in the booth. Once in a while, in the course of those hours, he says something that isn't entirely accurate. So I just got this brilliant idea: ​catch him saying one of those inaccurate things! For too long has Tim McCarver's reputation gone unbesmirched by baseball bloggers. For too long has the broadcast team of Buck and McCarver been universally beloved. Well, no more. I'm here to tell you something you won't want to hear: even Tim McCarver makes mistakes.

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February 24, 2012 3:00 am

Collateral Damage: The DL Kings: Chad Fox

5

Corey Dawkins and Rebecca Glass

Meet the pitcher who accrued the most injury time among major leaguers since 2002

As we have seen in previous installments of the DL Kings, there are many ways in which a career can be shortened by injury:  There can be a single, recurring injury as we saw with Kelvim Escobar, or there can be a multitude of different injuries, as was the case with Alex Escobar. We have said that a player needs to have talent to be high on this list—otherwise teams would just cut loose after a few signs of trouble, and this holds true for Chad Fox, who holds the list’s infamous top spot. 

Fox was originally drafted by Cincinnati in the 23rd round of the 1992 draft, and through the 1995 season, he was almost exclusively a starting pitcher, where he demonstrated a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a good slider. Fox was traded  to Atlanta for outfielder Mike Kelly after the end of the 1995 season; He pitched for the Richmond Braves the following season, increasing his strikeout (from a 6.3 K/9 to 8.39), and dropping his walk rate (from 5.85 BB/9 to 4.73) . Alas, elbow trouble forced him to the disabled list and he  underwent Tommy John surgery that  July.

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The tater trots for April 16: Jake Fox forgets how to trot while Ramon Hernandez challenges him.

In yesterday's Tater Trot Tracker post, I said that I thought this weekend might be a great time to see some speedy trots. With cold, rainy weather so prevalent over the country, and considering the way players had responded to that on Friday, it seemed like a good bet to see more of that over the weekend. That was definitely not the case on Saturday, when we had four trots well over 24 seconds, with two of them passing the 26-second mark. What do I know?

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June 24, 2010 10:22 am

Transaction Action: Fiddling While the Toast Burns

10

Christina Kahrl

One more Patterson gets scorched, ongoing outfield roulette in Boston, and more.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Acquired 5C-RJake Fox from the A's for RHP Ross Wolf; optioned RHP Chris Tillman to Norfolk (Triple-A); designated RHP Cla Meredith for assignment. [6/22]

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June 18, 2009 3:00 pm

Transaction Analysis: NL Central Roundup

5

Christina Kahrl

Middling moves and piddling results among some mid-level teams in the senior circuit.

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October 23, 2006 12:00 am

The Ledger Domain: Steve Lyons Speaks Out

0

Maury Brown

The former Fox Sports color man talks about his recent dismissal over on-air comments.

"It's a situation for me where I had probably the worst day of my professional life," said Lyons, reached at his home Thursday evening. "I got fired from Fox and was labeled a racist as they kicked me out the back door."

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October 23, 2006 12:00 am

World Series Prospectus: The I [Heart] New York Matchup

0

Jay Jaffe

Jay suffers the exquisite torture of a Jeff Weaver-Kenny Rogers duel in Game Two of the World Series. Go along for a sometimes rocky but always informative ride.

From the second inning through the eighth, Anthony Reyes faced just one hitter over the minimum (a seventh-inning single by Carlos Guillen), retiring 17 batters in order and finishing the frame in 10 pitches or less five times. Ten of those 22 plate appearances ran just one or two pitches, and overall, Tiger hitters saw just 3.14 pitches per plate appearance against him. That's not a recipe for a productive approach at the plate. A simple matter of rust, or a reversion to the team's hacktastic regular-season approach? Tonight should provide us with more insight into that. It also, of course, provides us with an even more compelling storyline, what this Yankee fan will call the I [Heart] NY matchup between two Bronx busts, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver.

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During the All-Star Break, MLB and Fox agreed to a broadcast partnership for another seven years. What does this mean? Maury takes a look.

As I sat watching this year's All-Star Game, wondering if the Nuttings and Kevin McClatchy would ever figure out that they're sitting on one-half of a great baseball club (the stadium), "television" kept coming to mind.

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June 3, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: [Team Name Here]

0

Derek Zumsteg

Fox Sports Net lies to you. I'm sure you're all shocked, since it's right next to Fox News Channel in the taxonomy of Rupert Murdoch's vast empire, a collection of businesses renowned for raising the level of intellectual discourse across the country. Not to make too much of this, but this is exactly the kind of easily tolerated lying that drives me insane. Fox Sports Net doesn't care about me.

This is about their television ads. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain:

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For all these reasons, I spend a fair amount of time pulling out my hair and shouting profanity at my television when I see the promotion of Major League Baseball.

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