Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Proof this could be a Nats town?

There are going to no shortage of ways everyone will look back at last night's festivities as a watershed moment in Nationals history, but here's perhaps the best evidence of how significant it was...

MASN broke its all-time record rating for a Nats game. Actually, that's not true. MASN absolutely obliterated its all-time record rating for a Nats game. According to the network, last night earned a 7.1 household rating, meaning more than 165,000 households in the Washington region had the station on.

That's about 700 percent higher than the average rating for a Nats game this season. The previous record high rating for a Nats game on MASN? 2.0 for a game against the Mets this May. There's no comparison.

Dan Steinberg over at the D.C. Sports Bog provided some more nice context, pointing out that only Capitals game on Comcast SportsNet ever got a higher rating than that (Game 7 against the Canadiens this year, which got an 8.1). The previous high for them was 5.8.

The Caps, of course, are the hottest team in town these days. And the Nats obviously aren't going to sustain those numbers. Tonight's game on MASN2 will surely be back down at the old levels, though perhaps there will be a slight uptick. The real test will be what the ratings are Sunday when Strasburg makes his next start in Cleveland. (And FYI: Jim Riggleman confirmed on the radio today that Strasburg will stay on a five-DAY rotation, not a five-GAME rotation until the All-Star break, which means he is scheduled to start at home on June 18 against the White Sox and again on June 23 against the Royals.)

But just in one amazing night, I think we witnessed how popular baseball can be in Washington, both in the ballpark and on TV. It will take sustained winning by the Nationals, a real pennant race and continued dominance from Strasburg to draw those kind of lofty ratings on a nightly basis.

But anyone who says there aren't baseball fans in this town don't know what they're talking about. And anyone who believes D.C. can't become a big-time baseball town doesn't understand how significant last night was.

24 comments:

Carl the Big Fool said...

The Nats may yet change their mind about June 18. They moved the 6/19 game to 4:10 PM, which makes it eligible for Fox's national Saturday broadcast. Somehow I doubt Fox will pick up the Nats for that if they're running J.D. Martin out there.

Section 222 said...

5 days instead of 5 games? Sweet! Two home starts coming up, and the O's don't get a sellout at Camden Yards on 6/25 because of our fans. Plus, he'll face Jason Heyward in Atlanta on 6/28.

I wonder how the other starters feel about this plan. Does Riggleman move them all back a day (or two when there's an off day mixed in) to accomodate Strasburg's schedule, or does JD Martin or Atilano actually skip a few starts along the way?

Pauloyd said...

I am going to go ahead and guess Riggleman is going to get busted for that comment.

Vito said...

I agree Carl but that start time change was posted late last week but it is based on the 5 game rotation. Now that they have the club clarification, it will certainly be a backup game or a regional telecast, which I think Fox has started to do.

N. Cognito said...

The baseball broadcasters have ignored us this long. I still have my doubts, but I hope the next home game is the 18th. Fox, ESPN and TBS can GTH!

natscan reduxit said...

... a propos to Mark’s (and others) recognition that there are indeed, baseball fans in DC, let me tell you that up here above the 49th, there are fans of the Nats - more than just me. The days of the Expos are over, as I have admitted here before, and the days of the Nats look very bright. No one in MLB-land could avoid that fact even if they wanted to. But here in Canada, the appearance of Stephen Strasburg in a Nats’ uni last night was covered by no less that our cross-country primary news broadcast. I doubt such coverage would have occured to any team whose history was solelycentered in the lower 48.

Go Nats!!

Anonymous said...

Section 222 - I've got to think that whether Atilano and/or Martin are pushed back or skipped, they'll be grateful to be in the majors and won't be complaining a lot.

Pauloyd - The plan to pitch Strasburg every 5th day rather than every 5th game was reported last week. I don't see why repeating it would get Rigs in trouble.

The 5-day plan was reported before FOX picked up the 6/19 game, so FOX knew that and wanted to pick it up anyway (without Strasburg), or FOX suspects or knows that it's not a very firm plan.

Rob From Canada said...

So I wonder what his schedule will be after the All-Star Break? I was hoping to catch him in DC in September, but I don't want to book anything until I know for sure which game his is pitching in. I am a big Nats fan and probably will take in the whole series, but I want to make sure to catch him.

I did count out the 5 game rotation and it seems he would pitch more on the road than at home. However, with a 5 day rotation that means he would pitch both side of the All-Star Game.

Knoxville Nat said...

N. Cognito.....I couldn't agree more! To heck with the suits at "the world wide leader" and FOX et al.

Back in 2005 when baseball returned to DC after a 33 year absence I turned on E$PN to catch the first home game against the D-Backs only to find "the leader" televising the 5 millionth game between the Yankee$ and the Red $ux! On E$PN 2 they had a real exciting matchup of Indians vs. White Sox. 33 years without baseball, the POTUS throwing out the first pitch...some history here and we get this crap from "the world wide leader". Fortunately it was very close to my wedding anniversary and my lovely wife, no doubt tired of my ranting at E$PN, went and ordered the MLB package for me frrom DIRECT TV and I've been a loyal MASN viewer ever since. Screw those "major network" wonks!!

BTW....I'm real happy to see that Angelos won't get to showcase SS at Camden Yards. Sorry for Oriole fans because they are very good baseball fans, but very happy that "Big Peter" won't make any more $$$ than he already has.

A DC Wonk said...

@Sect222 I wonder how the other starters feel about [the five day] plan.

When it was announced last week, the reason given was so that the other starters can get a little extra rest in. If that's the case, and if they need the rest, then they ought to be pretty happy about it, no?

Bowdenball said...

Mark or anyone else who knows:

What is the latest on Olsen, and how might it impact the rotation after this weekend? I overheard Charlie and Dave talking about him on the radio when I was in the bathroom last night but I couldn't quite catch what they said.

Dan said...

Hot damn. I have tickets for July 8 against San Diego six rows off the field. Using my MBA level counting to five skills, that's a Strasburg start. Squeeeeeeeeeee!

Anonymous said...

@Mark

Any idea how this every 5 days would work? So if SS starts sunday at Cleveland, he would then start 6/18. Would Lannan/Martin/Livo get backed up after the monday day off and then Atilano get skipped so that SS can start again Friday 6/18?

Anonymous said...

Strasburg will be starting on the 190th BUD wil make sure of that, FOX wil not show the Nats without him! I am interested to see attandance numbers and how much they differe between SS starts and non-SS starts, my guess is there will be about a 34,000 person difference in the seats from a weekday game with SS and an non-SS game!!

Anonymous said...

... continuing my last comment regarding the pitching - Atilano (or Olsen if back) would then need to start the 19th to keep Lannan, et all on 5 days rest.

Pete said...

My favorite quote from last night.

Pittsburgh fan, talking on cell phone: "yeah, I may have a new team now. Its incredible. I went to the Steelers / Skins game where it was half Steelers fans at the game. Its not like that here...the only people wearing yellow other than me are the ushers."

N. Cognito said...

190th?
WOW!
No wonder June seems to be dragging. :^)

34,000 person difference?
In a 41K+ ballpark?
I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Nationals will become a unifying element for all communities in DC like the Redskins. The Nationals still seem to only draw the VA, Capitals-fan type crowd. I would love to see Sports Announcer James Brown, who is a Nats partner with the Lerner’s, take a more visible role in promoting the team throughout the city. As a Black American, I love baseball. Hank Aaron was and is a personal hero. I lament that baseball doesn't seem to grab my community’s interest anymore. Last time I feel like baseball mattered to the Black Community was the Willie Stargell '79 Pirates. Last night we watched the Nats game at a sports pub in PG county. The NBA playoffs were being shown side by side with the later innings of the Nats game. It was quite clear (by the amount of cheers at high points during both games) that white folks we there for baseball and black folks were there for the NBA. Around the water cooler today at work same observation, Black folks talked Kobie. White folks Strasburg. You never see this with the Redskins. Knowing black histories impact on the game, when did Black people stop caring? Does Ken Burns or Clarence Page know? This game is too good, and I hate that a generation of kids are missing it.

RichM said...

Strasburg was magnificent last night as was the whole evening. I did notice that he jogged to first when he hit the ball to deep short. It looked like he would have been safe if he had run. One of the announcers said maybe he was protecting his knee. Anyone know why he did not run?

Anonymous said...

The Nats are in control and probably loving it. Fox can move there schedule, the Nats won't move their's.

Dave said...

RichM - That was a weird play. I think it was a routine play but the problem was the shortstop for some reason held up a second, maybe thinking the third baseman was going to grab it. Result being the throw was a little late to the bag,in turn making it seem that S. Stras. could have beaten the throw. He prob thought it was going to be a routine play as well and did not really rush down the line. Anyways that was my take.

Anonymous said...

As Carpy said, It did seem like Walter Johnson, the very best pitcher in the history of baseball, "walked out of that cornfield and took the mound". Strasburg may actually be better.

But will he last 20 years as the Big Train did? Hopefully, it won't take 17 years to get to a world series.

Anonymous8 said...

The Caps attendence is 18,200 approx and figure the Nats had 22,000 more for the attendence last night that weren't watching at home so if you take the TV audience and the people at the game, plus Nats fans in fringe areas that watched on MLB Network, I am sure it exceeded those that watched the Caps game.

Also, Peter Angelos was smiling as he owns the majority share of MASN and wanted to send his thanks to Strasburg for putting more revenue in his pocket.

Anonymous said...

Anon about the young black generation not into baseball. I think it has to do with Football and basketball and the kids seeing how much $$$ the athletes make and how quickly they can make that. I know that MLB has a program called RBI in the inner cities to get more of those kids back into the game. It is sad to see how the negro league was huge for the black community way back when and the sport is slowly dyeing now. This sport could show america still that it doesn't matter the color you are it just matters that you play the game the right way.

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