The biggest story in sports on Monday was that Alex Rodriguez, despite an impending 211-game suspension, would appeal said suspension and return to the New York Yankees lineup anyway. Pretty much every sports news outlet spent their day with the beleaguered former baseball star. The outlets that covered the game action ended up scoring big.
YES Network, the TV home of the Yankees, drew a season-high 4.34 rating for game coverage of Yankees-White Sox on Monday. That means that, yes, A-Rod's return to the field drew higher ratings than Derek Jeter's first (a midweek afternoon game that hit a 2.3) and second (a Sunday afternoon 4.0) returns to the sport. YES peaked with a monstrous 7.5 rating from 8:15-8:30 p.m. ET, when Rodriguez singled to left field in his first at bat.
The game also boosted local ratings for the lowly Chicago White Sox. CSN Chicago drew a 3.3 rating for the game in the market, with Rodriguez's first at bat peaking with a 4.4. The White Sox beat up the Yankees, 8-1, so people clearly stuck around to enjoy it. The White Sox games on Saturday and Sunday against the Tigers both drew just a 1.4 rating. Their tilt with Detroit on Friday night drew just a 1.0.
An unexpected beneficiary of the A-Rod circus was ESPN. Not that they don't typically benefit from coverage of his various doings, but they weren't slated to air Yankees-White Sox on Monday. Still, they cut-in live to his at bats during the evening. The network's coverage of that, plus Dodgers-Cardinals live, drew a 1.0 rating nationally. That marks the highest rating for a non-Sunday baseball game on ESPN all season. The circus will likely move on to other things tomorrow, but not before it drew a lot of eyeballs to an August Yankees-White Sox game.