Forget the Big Apple. It's Hardball Heaven. New Yorkers flocked to the tube Tuesday night to see if the Yankees could follow the Mets into the World Series.
The Yankees' American League Championship Series clincher, a 9-7 comeback win over the Seattle Mariners, produced a whopping 33.7 rating and a 47 share for Channel 4, the NBC affiliate, meaning almost half the area's TV sets on at the time were tuned to Game 6 from the Stadium. A local ratings point represents 67,000 homes.
Here's why you're reading and hearing that the Subway Series may not be similarly received around the country. Game 6, in fact, the whole ALCS, didn't draw nearly as much attention elsewhere. With competition from the third presidential debate, NBC's game coverage registered a 8.8 national rating Tuesday night. The six ALCS games on NBC averaged a 7.7 rating, down 32 percent from NBC's Mets-Braves NLCS last year.
Line of the night Tuesday had to go to Hartford Courant baseball writer Jack O'Connell. During a postgame television interview piped into the press room in Yankee Stadium, outfielder David Justice, describing fan excitement in New York for the Subway Series, said, "This city is going to be on fire!"
Quipped O'Connell: "Don't give 'em any ideas."
Fox' coverage of the National League Championship Series, in which the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals in five, was the lowest-rated LCS since 1996, generating a 6.2 rating, down 33 percent from last year's five-game Red Sox-Yanks ALCS.
New Yorkers are deliriously embracing the Series. But something special may have to happen in the first two games to grab the rest of the country. On the other hand, who cares? Just savor this as another unexpected Gotham treasure.
For the Series, Fox will use 22 cameras, 15 tape machines, five Super-slo-mo video replay machines, and 75 mikes in and around the field, the most equipment the network has ever used to televise baseball. Use 'em wisely, fellows. ... Fox believes it is well suited to capture the Subway Series, with all its brashness and historical references. Executive producer Ed Goren and game producer Mike Weisman are New York natives, Bill Webb is a veteran Yankees director and pregame producer Gary Lang is a Jersey guy. ... We hear Fox has lined up Billy Crystal to voice-over the Game 1 tease.
In a postgame interview with David Justice, NBC's Jimmy Roberts had a hole in his homework. He asked Justice if the Game 6 homer was his biggest ever. It couldn't be. Justice won the World Series in 1995 for the Braves with a Game 6 homer, and he politely explained that to Roberts. ... The out-of-town writers already have started teeing off against the New York teams. Here are excerpts from Wednesday's cranky column by Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a diatribe against awarding wild cards. He moans that the Mets are undeserving and lucky, because they dodged the Braves. "Here are the Mets, 3 and 20 in the last two seasons in Atlanta, playing in the World Series, for crying out loud," Bisher writes. "They're some team out of a fairy tale, watched over by a fairy godmother." ... The Jets play the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, a game that usually would generate plenty of coverage. Instead, the Subway Series has pushed it and the local NHL teams into the background. "Having grown up in this area, I can really relate to the excitement," Jets Coach Al Groh told One-on-One Sports Radio. "... But I kind of like it from the standpoint that everybody's all involved in that and rightly so. That'll kind of let us hibernate here in our own section of the world and just do what we have to do to get ready for the game."
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