The hype surrounding San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds helped enhance the ratings for Fox Sports’ coverage of Tuesday night’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Many baseball fans may not like Bonds and the ongoing steroid allegations that surround him, but 31.4 million viewers tuned in to see Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in his backyard of San Francisco.
The total audience number was the game’s best figure since 2004. It was up slightly from last year’s 31.2 million and marked Fox’s first time seeing back-to-back yearly audience increases for baseball’s midsummer classic.
Fox’s coverage was buoyed by a pre-game celebration of legendary Giants star Willie Mays, who appeared in a moving on-field tribute by Bonds and the entire cast of All-Stars. Mays also sat for a strong interview by current stars Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr., which the network plans to show more of this Saturday during its regular MLB coverage.
Announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver also deserved credit for their appropriate – and journalistically necessary - discussion of the Bonds-steroid situation.
Among other highlights of the telecast was Arizona Diamondbacks star Eric Byrnes stationed in “McCovey Cove” in a kayak with his dog, Bruin. With no homers hit over the right field fence through the first four innings and the winds picking up as the temperatures dropped, the eager canine finally jumped in and took what surely will be the most-viewed swim on television until the Beijing Olympics next summer.
Deserving less credit than Bruin was a contestant who pathetically flailed at a baseball on a tee during a pre-game Taco Bell promotion, as well as a nearly two minute technical glitch prior to Paula Cole singing “God Bless America.”
Perhaps Cole’s glitch – or the selection of Cole in the first place - was one reason that while the total audience numbers held up well, the adult 18-49 figures (4.1 rating/12 share) were actually off 11% from last year.