Last season was no walk in the park for the Texas Rangers. While sitting in second place in the AL West last season on Aug 21, they were above .500, with a 63-55 record, but 15 games out of first behind the red hot Angels.
This season, the Rangers are still in second place, but in a far more competitive fashion, posting a 68-52 record (.567), 5.5 games out of first in the AL West, but more importantly, in a dogfight with the Red Sox for first in the AL Wildcard race, one game out as of Friday.
The improved play has translated to fan interest on two levels: the gate and television ratings.
THE GATE: To date, the Rangers have drawn 1,792,791 fans in 64 dates at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, an increase of 190,719 over the same number of dates in 2008. Club average is 28,012 per date. Final home attendance average for 2008 was 24,323.
RATINGS RANKINGS: Rangers broadcasts on Fox Sports Southwest have seen strong ratings. The four-game series this week against the Twins produced three of the teamâ€™s Top 10 Nielsen household ratings of this season, including Wednesday nightâ€™s season best 4.8 average for Ivan Rodriguezâ€™s return and first game back with the club. Tuesday nightâ€™s game averaged a 3.9 (sixth best of the season), Thursday nightâ€™s telecast averaged a 3.7 (tied for eighth best of the season) and Monday night averaged a 3.4. Five of the teamâ€™s Top 10 ratings of the season have occurred in the month of August, including the top two. Hereâ€™s the top 10 breakdown through Thursdayâ€™s games:
No.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Rating/Date, opponent)
1. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 4.8/Aug. 19 vs. Minnesota
2. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 4.3/Aug. 8 at Oakland
3. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 4.2/July 1 vs. Los Angeles Angels
4 (tie).Â Â Â 4.0/July 22 vs. Boston
4 (tie).Â Â Â 4.0/July 8 at Los Angeles Angels
6. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3.9/Aug. 18 vs. Minnesota
7. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3.8/June 30 vs. Los Angeles Angels
8 (tie). Â Â 3.7/May 27 vs. New York Yankees
8 (tie) Â Â Â 3.7/Aug. 15 vs. Boston Red Sox
8 (tie) Â Â Â 3.7/Aug. 30 vs. Minnesota
The four-game Minnesota series improved the teamâ€™s season average rating to 2.8, a 61% increase over last year at this time.Â Itâ€™s the second best year-to-year local ratings improvement among the 30 MLB clubs behind the Washington Nationalsâ€™ 71% increase (0.58 vs. 0.34).
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter