The baseball bean counters are both thanking and praying to their lucky stars after Aaron Judge established himself as arguably the face of the game on a national stage this week at the Home Run Derby. Ratings for the Derby were at their highest in nearly a decade, but an almost-certain playoff viewership drop-off looms in October.
Last year, as you know all about, the Cubs made a magical run. The World Series on Fox had its highest ratings in 15 years, and FS1 set network viewership records in the NLCS. This was a tide that lifted the boats of Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd.
This was never going to be replicated this season, and everybody knows it. You can’t exactly synthesize a team’s first championship run in 108 years, combined with the fact that the franchise came from the nation’s third-biggest market and featured an array of young, likable stars.
Nevertheless, year-over-year ratings are an oft-cited metric, and Fox Sports would surely love to stem the bleeding. Because FS1 has the American League playoffs this year, their best shot at mitigating losses is with Judge and the Yankees.
The Yankees have cooled a bit from their hot start, but a month ago YES Network ratings were up 50% from last season. Right now, the Yankees are in one of the AL’s two Wild Card spots; Minnesota is a game back and Kansas City is 1.5 games back. Meanwhile, the Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Tigers are all plausibly in the hunt. It is unlikely though not out of the realm of possibility that the Yankees catch the Red Sox in the AL East, where they are 3.5 games back.
FS1 would greatly appreciate if the Yankees could not only hold onto their Wild Card berth, but win the one-game playoff, and have at least one full series to help dam the inevitable Cubs viewership drop-off.