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Strange but true: Baseball ratings slipped in '09

MLB and its TV partners are optimistic that an attractive final four will generate strong ratings for the LCS and World Series, but the regular-season figures were lackluster.

Fox averaged 1.8 percent of homes for its Saturday games, which according to the Sports Business Daily was the fifth consecutive year of decline and the lowest figure in its 14 seasons televising baseball.

ESPN’s Sunday night games and TBS’ non-exclusive Sunday afternoon games also were down slightly from 2008.

Just wondering: Moving up ALCS is too complicated

Why couldn’t Game 1 of the ALCS have been moved to Wednesday rather than having the Angels and Yankees wait until tonight?

Short answer: too many moving parts. “The challenge in moving up the ALCS is it affects the entire schedule,’’ MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said. “It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.’’

Television is a consideration, of course, but so are matters such as travel and accommodations.

Establishing a set date for the World Series is particularly important — with Fox and MLB committed to a mid-week start to avoid games on two lower-rated weekend nights — and everything else must work backward from there.

If the ALCS had started Wednesday and one team had swept by Sunday, it would have faced a 10-day layoff before playing again Oct. 28.

Best’s bets: Spanish is Yanks’ second language

Channel 9 went on the air 60 years ago Sunday and has a rich history of televising New York sports. But this is believed to be a first: While Fox’s Channel 5 is the primary outlet for the ALCS, its corporate sibling WWOR will carry the action, too. In Spanish.

Ch. 9, the Yankees’ over-the-air TV outlet in the regular season, will offer coverage produced by the cable channel Fox Sports en Espanol, including ads in Spanish and featuring announcers Adrian Garcia Marquez and Carlos Hernandez.

New York Sports