Debate has run wild in baseball circles over whether Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig should be in Major League Baseball’s July 16 All-Star Game. But there’s probably little doubt where sympathies lay for Fox, which will broadcast the contest nationally from New York.
As electrifying on the field as he is in the stats pages, Puig (who today became the first to win a league Player of the Month award for his debut month in the majors) has exactly the magnetism Fox can’t get enough of for its coverage of what, after all, is an exhibition game.
Fox has been down this road before: Last year’s top MLB rookie stars, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, each made the midsummer classic. Their presence might have helped stem a ratings decline for the 2012 contest, in which the NL scored five runs in the first inning, on their way to a mostly thrill-free 8-0 victory. The 2012 game drew a 3.2 rating among viewers 18-49 and 10.9 million overall, compared with 3.1/11.0 in 2011.
This year’s game already figures to have at least one hotshot rookie: New York Mets ace Matt Harvey, pitching at his home field. Puig, who defected from Cuba after several attempts in 2012 and is only 22, could be selected as a reserve outfielder by NL manager Bruce Bochy, or he could reach the All-Star Game via the final-player vote that is left up to the fans. ESPN has already caught Puig fever, nominating him for a 2013 ESPY for top breakthrough athlete.