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Volume 24 No. 154
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MLB Suspensions: YES Makes Up For Not Airing Rodriguez Press Conference Live

YES Network's John Flaherty and Michael Kay last night were "not shying away from" discussing the 211-game suspension MLB gave Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and his controversial return to the team's lineup during an "expanded, one-hour pregame show and during the game itself," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. That is "contrary to YES' long custom of limiting talk about off-field issues." The broadcasters "extensively discussed the A-Rod soap opera, which eased the awkwardness of YES' odd decision not to carry live Rodriguez's pregame news conference." Three local TV stations and "at least five local radio stations" did air the press conference live, as did SportsNet N.Y., ESPN, MLB Network and CNN. YES instead showed a re-air of the Gene Michael "Yankeeography." The net "did show the news conference in its entirety during the pregame and replayed highlights during the game." The suspensions of Rodriguez and 12 others MLBers "prompted blanket coverage on national and local television and radio -- led by ESPN and MLB Network" -- when they were announced around 3:00pm ET yesterday. However, YES "declined to interrupt its encore presentation of Sunday's Yankees-Padres game with the news." SNY, the Mets' flagship station, "cut into its regular programming with a report and analysis" (NEWSDAY, 8/6). YES Network VP/Communications Eric Handler in an e-mail wrote showing Rodriguez' news conference at 7:00pm "enabled us to package everything into a smooth-running cohesive show that incorporated all of the latest developing news of the afternoon." Handler: "Also, by going at 7 pm, we had a potentially bigger audience for our show than we’d have during the 6:00 hour." YES "did live-tweet the news conference" (N.Y. POST, 8/6).

KEEPING THINGS LOW-KEY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes YES "low-keyed this media spectacle." It "did not ignore" Rodriguez returning to play following his suspension, but there was "no sense of urgency or drama in the coverage." It "didn't feel special." After not broadcasting press conferences with Rodriguez and Yankees manager Joe Girardi, YES "played catch-up with a fine hour-long pregame show, which included multiple airings of the two press conferences." While the decision "not to go live was infuriating, it was really cosmetic." However, it was "clear from the get-go that A-Rod was not getting the same treatment Derek Jeter received when he returned to the team." There was "no sappy soliloquy" from Kay and "no melodramatic music." Kay during Rodriguez' time with the Yankees "has often provided him with a soft place to land." But early in last night's game, which "served as a mere backdrop for Rodriguez’s return, Kay pounded Rodriguez for failing to deny PED use" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/6).

CONTROVERSY DRAWS A CROWD: YES Network drew its highest ratings of the season last night for Rodriguez' return to the lineup. The net averaged a 4.34 local rating, an increase over the 4.16 rating for a May 27 game against the Mets. Last night's game peaked with an 8.22 rating in the 8:30-8:45pm quarter hour, when Rodriguez made his first at bat (YES Network). 

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT: The suspension of Rodriguez and the other 12 players made the front page of many newspapers this morning. USA Today uses the headline "Yer Out" and puts Rodriguez above the fold, as well as head shots of many of the other players disciplined. The N.Y. Times places the Rodriguez story on the front page below the fold with the headline, "A Big Name Back In The Lineup, But Crossed Off Baseball's List." The Wall Street Journal front page features an image of Rodriguez and several other suspended players with the header, "Thirteen Men Out: Baseball Issues Drug Bans." Here is how some other MLB markets covered the news.

Chicago Tribune: "Baseball Drug War Could Get Uglier"
Dallas Morning News: "Cruz Called Out"
Denver Post: "'Baseball Must Do Everything It Can To Maintain Integrity, Fairness And A Level Playing Field'"
Detroit Free Press: "Should We Forgive And Forget?"
L.A. Daily News: "Throw The Bums Out?"
Miami Herald: "Fall From Grace"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Another One Bites The Dust"
Philadelphia Inquirer: "Big-League Bans"
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Dark Day For MLB"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Cheaters Row"
St. Paul Pioneer Press: "You're Outta Here"
San Diego Union-Tribune: "13 Suspended"