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Volume 26 No. 207
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ESPN Wild Card Rating On Par With '17; "StatCast" Effort Praised

ESPN and ESPN2 combined to draw a 5.1 overnight rating for the Rockies' 2-1 win in 13 innings over the Cubs last night in the NL Wild Card game. That figure is down from a 5.2 overnight last year on ESPN alone for the Yankees-Twins AL Wild Card, which had heavy competition from cable news networks around the Las Vegas shooting. Two years ago, ESPN drew a Wild Card-record 5.8 overnight for Giants-Mets, and three years ago, drew a 5.7 for Astros-Yankees. Last year's NL Wild Card aired on TBS, with the net drawing a 3.2 overnight for D-backs-Rockies. That 3.2 remains the lowest overnight yet for any MLB Wild Card. ESPN last night drew a 4.6 rating for its telecast, while ESPN2, airing a special "StatCast" telecast of the same game, drew a 0.5 overnight, which is one of the net's best figures yet for an alternative viewing experience across all sports. Denver led all markets with an 18.6 local rating, while Chicago drew an 18.1. ESPN also is expected to win primetime among cable networks last night (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

DIFFERENT SPIN: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Andrew Bucholtz wrote the ESPN2 "StatCast" telecast with Jason Benetti, Mike Petriello and Eduardo Perez "drew plenty of praise, especially compared to the criticism for the main ESPN booth of Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez and Jessica Mendoza." The "StatCast" booth "delivered an outstanding broadcast, and one that didn't feel gimmicky." They would "bring up advanced statistics like weighted runs created plus when it made sense, but explained them and didn't shoehorn them in." They also "smartly used on-screen graphics in a way that wasn't overly distracting." But another element that "boosted" the broadcast was "addition by subtraction." There were a "lot less cliches than you hear on many baseball broadcasts, and there was a whole lot less of crusty complaining about particular behavior from players" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 10/3). Red Sox Senior Advisor for Baseball Operations Bill James tweeted, "TREMENDOUSLY enjoyed the Statcast broadcast. Just absolutely loved it. Forgot it was a 'special' thing; just seemed natural. Very natural flow of information, not forced into the game at all. Very professional. Loved it."

MAKINGS OF A CLASSIC: ESPN.com's Bradford Doolittle wrote Rockies-Cubs "reminded us once again why baseball is still great." The Rockies' 2-1 win in a 13-inning, 4-hour, 55-minute thriller was a "wild-card classic" (ESPN.com, 10/3). Rockies manager Bud Black said last night's game "will go down as a major-league baseball classic" (DENVER POST, 10/3). SI.com's Joan Niesen notes Cubs manager Joe Maddon "called the game 'an instant classic' -- and if it wasn’t quite that, it was close." The NL "hasn't had a more charged September" since '11, and one game into the postseason, it "already feels like it's provided a week's worth of thrills, between two Game 163s and all this bonus baseball in Chicago" (SI.com, 10/3).

ONE FOR THE FANS: ESPN's Trey Wingo said if fans were "looking for a way to start" the MLB Playoffs, it would be "hard to do better" than Rockies-Cubs last night. ESPN's Mike Golic said in an "era of high scoring sports," he is a "fan of the pitching duels and you had a good one last night." Golic: "Last night every at-bat, every pitch, every swing could have meant something so big to the game." But ESPN's Mike Golic Jr. said he "could have slept and gotten the news" about last night's game. Golic Jr.: "At least if I'm getting some dingers along the way, there's some action to it that I can look back and say that made it worth me crushing my bedtime into oblivion. That being said, it was still a great game" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 10/3).