Everything that many of the pundits tend to call bad for baseball -- throwing intentionally at hitters, an obscenely long game, Alex Rodriguez -- was on display at Fenway Park on Sunday night. Yet, the game turned into a ratings success for ESPN.
The Worldwide Leader scored a 2.5 overnight for Sunday Night Baseball featuring the Yankees and Red Sox. It was an intense game, in which Ryan Dempster threw at Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez responded by hitting a home run en route to a 9-6 Yankee win. The 2.5 was the highest overnight for a Sunday night game since June 24, 2012 (Yankees vs. Mets). It was, by default, the highest-rated MLB telecast of the season for ESPN. Just as a comparison, last week's Rays-Dodgers telecast drew a 1.4.
New York's victory was up 25 percent from the comparable matchup last year. That was, of course, Yankees-Red Sox drawing a 2.0 on August 18, 2012.
ESPN scored big in New York, where the game hit a 5.4 rating. Kind of sadly, that still wasn't enough to beat the Giants in the market for their pre-season game. Fox drew a 6.5 in the Big Apple. Nationally, football was a big winner, with the unwatchable pre-season game still drawing double the ratings of the exciting baseball game, 4.9 to 2.5. America, you're kinda weird.
Fox also benefitted from Yankees-Red Sox: the second game of the series drew a 2.1 rating on Saturday. The telecast -- which also featured regional broadcasts of Cardinals-Cubs and Diamondbacks-Pirates -- was up slightly from Yankees-Red Sox in the timeslot last year (a 2.0 rating on 8/18/12). Fox only drew a 3.1 rating in New York for this one, way down from ESPN's 5.4 on Sunday.