Playoff ratings up 28 percent on Fox
NEW YORK (AP) -- Fox's first playoff broadcast this season was watched in 28 percent more homes than the game in the same time slot on ESPN last year.
On last year's first opening day of the playoffs, ESPN had the 4 p.m. EDT time slot. The Seattle Mariners-Chicago White Sox game was watched by 2.5 percent of all homes with televisions. However, ESPN is only available in about 80 percent of homes.
Ratings for the two games broadcast on the Fox Family cable network were not available Wednesday.
Last year, Fox secured the TV rights to all postseason baseball from 2001-06. The $2.5 billion price tag also includes some regular season games.
Cox leaves Braves to visit ailing sisterAtlanta manager Bobby Cox was headed to Birmingham, Ala., late Wednesday to be with his sister, Joy Rogers, who had a brain hemorrhage earlier in the day.
It was not immediately known whether Cox would be with the Braves for their workout at Turner Field on Thursday, or even Game 3 of the first-round series against Houston on Friday afternoon.
Cox learned about his sister prior to Game 2. He was on the bench for Atlanta's 1-0 victory, which gave the Braves a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, but did not go to the interview room afterward. A team spokesman said he was too distraught to talk.
Braves pitcher Tom Glavine said after the game that he didn't know anything about the illness.
Cox planned to fly from Houston to Atlanta with the team, then drive to Birmingham, about two hours away.
Under Cox, the Braves have won 10 straight division titles, an unprecedented accomplishment in the four major pro sports.
He's won one World Series and is 57-50 in the postseason, including a 1985 appearance with Toronto.
If Cox misses Game 3, dugout coach Pat Corrales likely would take his place. Corrales was a manager for nine years with Texas, Philadelphia and Cleveland in the 1970s and '80s.
Back trackOakland manager Art Howe got some good-natured ribbing from his own players after his comments about the New York Yankees were blown up on the back pages of the city's newspapers.
While praising the Yankees and calling them “the team to beat,” Howe also said: “It's going to take a great series from the Yankees to have a shot to beat us.”
“Obviously, I made a stupid comment yesterday, I guess,” he said.
Howe had just gotten done with telling his team to watch what they say to the media. In last year's series, Eric Chavez made some ill-timed comments about the end of the Yankees' dynasty that were shown on the scoreboard in Oakland before Game 5.
“The guys are actually having some fun with me,” Howe said. “They have a picture up there with me with tape over my mouth.”
Yankees manager Joe Torre was told about the comments, but didn't seem upset.
“I know Art Howe,” Torre said. “That's the most important thing.”
Hometown razzingMatt Williams was booed Wednesday at Bank One Ballpark, a day after the home crowd jeered the Arizona third baseman as he went 0-for-4, striking out twice, and stranding three runners in scoring position in Game 1.
It wasn't the first time the Arizona crowd has gotten on the 35-year-old former All-Star, who struggled through a difficult season after being sidelined for 47 games with a hip flexor and a strained hamstring.
The crowd's reaction irritated Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly.
“Fans are entitled to do whatever they choose to do after they come to the ballpark, but it stung me personally because Matty has been such a big part of this team and a big part of our offense,” Brenly said.
It's not easy to come back from such injuries, said Brenly, a teammate with Williams in San Francisco.
“We in the clubhouse know what he's gone through this season and how he has persevered and battled through the whole thing,” Brenly said.
Williams went 0-for-3 Wednesday as Arizona lost to St. Louis 4-1, tying the series at one game each.
A calmer Lou?Did Lou Piniella mellow out in Seattle's record-setting season?
His players say he didn't have much reason to get uptight this year.
Piniella, who has had his share of theatrical ejections, was not thrown out of a game all year until the season's final week. Per major league baseball rules, he was ejected in Anaheim after pitcher Joel Pineiro was tossed for hitting Anaheim's Troy Glaus with a pitch in the eighth inning.
Shortstop Mark McLemore says Piniella's calm demeanor in 2001 isn't a sign that the veteran manager won't be quick to stick up for his players.
“Lou sets the tone,” McLemore said. “Lou didn't go off all year. How do you go off with a team that lost 46 games all year? What's to get upset about? That's a whole lot of wins.”
McLemore said when Piniella leaves the dugout, players know to get out of his way because he's headed straight for the umpire. He'll walk through another player if he needs to.
McLemore likes that.
“I have always wanted to play for Lou,” McLemore said. “Lou is a very intense manager. He's behind his players. He takes chances and gambles. He doesn't just manage by the books. It's great playing for him.”