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AROUND THE MAJORS

Cubs Help Give Lift to Ratings

October 02, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

If Game 1 is any indication, having the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs is a good thing for television.

Game 1 of the series between the Cubs and Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, televised by Fox, got a 7.5 national Nielsen rating with a 12 share.

The 7.5 rating represents a 15% increase over last year, when the Angels and New York Yankees opened on Fox, and is the highest rating for a playoff opener since 1999.

Tuesday night's game drew an audience estimated at 10.9 million viewers, the most for Game 1 of a division series.

In Los Angeles, the game drew a 7.6 rating and a 13 share and ranked No. 1 in its time slot. The game got a 28.9/40 in Chicago and a 21.2/12 in Atlanta.

Last year, Game 1 of the Yankee-Angel series got a 15.9 rating in L.A. and a 15.8 in New York.

On Tuesday, Game 1 of the Yankee-Minnesota Twin series, televised by ESPN, got a 2.56 cable rating. Florida-San Francisco on ESPN got a 3.29 cable rating.

-- Larry Stewart

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Tom Gamboa, the coach who drew national attention after being attacked by a father and son last season, said he was caught by surprise when the Kansas City Royals fired him after Sunday's final game.

"It's too bad that I got fired," Gamboa said. "But after 30 years in this business, I've been with seven teams. That darn attack has probably become a stigma.

"It may be better for me and the Royals to just part ways. Maybe that will make this thing go away."

That "thing" is all the attention he has received since Sept. 19, 2002, when William Ligue Jr. and his teenage son jumped over the railing at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, threw the 55-year-old Gamboa to the ground and began kicking and punching him.

Gamboa, reassigned from first-base coach to bullpen coach at the beginning of the season, said he sometimes sensed there were people in the Royal organization who resented the attention he drew everywhere he went. As he and other coaches would walk through crowds, autograph-seekers would line up around him.

Once, when the Royals were in Chicago and in first place in the AL Central, Gamboa said Manager Tony Pena told him it was the players who should be talking to the media.

"What was I supposed to do?" Gamboa said. "Am I supposed to be rude to people who are just trying to do their job?"

The Royals cited the bullpen's high earned-run average of 5.60 as a reason for firing Gamboa, although pitching coach John Cumberland and every other member of the team's coaching staff was retained.

"In the bullpen, the only thing you get to teach is bunting in preparation for interleague play," Gamboa said.

But he holds no grudges.

"They treated me good," Gamboa said. "It was fun working under Pena. But there just wasn't a fit for me in a capacity that I could get more out of."

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The Pittsburgh Pirates waived infielder Jose Hernandez and claimed right-hander Jason Boyd from the Cleveland Indians.

From Times Wire Reports

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