Changes should alleviate first-pitch misses on telecasts

April 10, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas – The highest-rated program in the history of FOX Sports Southwest didn't even include the first two pitches of Yu Darvish's debut Monday night.

Instead of having a first pitch at 7:07 which is standard for games at Rangers Ballpark, Monday's game began at 7:05 and the first two pitches were thrown while FSSW was in commercial.

The game began early because the Rangers took the field early and home-plate umpire Paul Nauert gave the signal to play ball.

"I don't think the home-plate umpire will have Yu Darvish standing on the field for two minutes," said FOX Sports Southwest senior executive producer Mike Anastassiou. "There was a breakdown. Once a team takes the field all bets are off. There was just a major disconnect there."

The Rangers normally take the field at 7:05 and the first pitch is at 7:07, which is a change from years past in which games started at 7:05. The two-minute head start Monday denied television viewers a chance to see the two balls thrown by Darvish.

Texas spokesman John Blake said the club went through a checklist of measures Tuesday to make sure it wouldn't happen again. One of the issues was that the club took the field early. Another issue could be with the in-stadium clock in left-center field. That clock is two minutes ahead of schedule but Blake said that the umpires are not supposed to use that clock to start a game but instead use the one on the ribbon board on the field, which has the correct game time.

FSSW has also made changes. An affiliate break has been moved back in the game broadcast to allow the broadcast to get out of a commercial if needed.

The opening has also been changed and will begin with a one-minute intro followed by commercials. The broadcast will then resume at 7:03:30 giving it a cushion in case the game starts early.

Despite the mix-up, the game had a 10.7 rating and a 17 share according to Nielsen Media Research data. That made it the No. 1 show on television in the Metroplex, beating ABC's Dancing with the Stars (10.4 rating).

An average of 274,100 homes watched the game. The telecast peaked from 8:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. when it had a 12.2 rating.

The numbers beat the old mark for a FOX Sports Southwest telecast, which was also a Texas game. The Aug. 11, 2010 game between the Rangers and the New York Yankees had a 9.3 rating.

Ratings for the Japan broadcast of the game haven't been released yet. The game aired in Japan at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.