Are Nats' TV Figures Too Bad to Be True?

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NEW YORK, July 15 -- Commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday that Major League Baseball is checking into the accuracy of published Nielsen ratings in which television viewership for Washington Nationals games ranked a distant 30th out of 30 MLB teams.

"The ratings were so . . . abysmal, we're having our people look into it, and it's ongoing," Selig said during his annual lunch meeting with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

However, Selig said the overall health of the Nationals' franchise is fine. "They're doing well at the gate and I think [their rebuilding plan is] on schedule. I know they'd like to win more games, but they have a plan."

Last week, the SportsBusiness Journal reported the Nationals were drawing an average area rating of 0.39, roughly one-third that of the next-worst team, with an average of only 9,000 households in the Washington area.

Other topics Selig addressed Tuesday:

· On the FBI investigation into allegations that some baseball executives have skimmed money from the signing bonuses paid to young Latin American players: "We have been on top of it. . . . We understand what was going on, and we will do whatever we can to clean it up."

· On the possibility of instituting instant replay by this postseason: "If it occurs, it will be in a very limited form. Once we are convinced the bugs are out, it will come quickly."

· On the allegations that fired Baltimore Orioles scout Alan Marr was implicated in a gambling investigation: "I am very sensitive about any [gambling]. We are conducting our own investigation. . . . There certainly is no evidence it was widespread."


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