If it wasn't bad enough that this year's Major League Baseball All-Star Game ended in an improbable, not to mention controversial, 11th-inning, 7-7 tie, the news just got worse.

The ratings for the so-called midsummer classic were--depending on your baseball cliché of choice--either a whiff, a strikeout, an error, a foul ball, a wild pitch or a dribbler to the mound. They stunk worse than a blind ump. Or an inning-ending double-play. They were deeper in the basement than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

They were, simply enough, the lowest-ever for a prime-time All-Star Game, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The game drew about 14.65 million viewers, more than a million less than last year's game in Seattle (which the American League won 4-1) and about 60,000 less than the previous nadir, the American League's 6-3 win two years ago in Atlanta. The audience number was about half of what the game drew during the 1980s. Nielsen has only been tracking viewership numbers since 1983.

The broadcast, which ended in an unprecedented tie at 12:35 a.m. ET because both teams had run out of pitchers, pulled in a 9.5 rating and 17 share. The previous low for a prime-time All-Star Game was the 2000 contest, which notched a 10.1 rating/18 share. The only All-Star Game that scored lower ratings was the 1953 match-up in Cincinnati--which was a day game. That managed an 8.6 rating.

(The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use, tuned to a particular broadcast. Share is the percentage of homes with TVs in use tuned to that broadcast.)

None of this can make the folks at Fox happy. The network ponied up a whopping $2.5 billion for the honor of broadcasting Major League Baseball, and the Nielsens continue to shrink.

Still, the network spinmeisters did their best to explain to decline, blaming everything from the stretched-out pregame show (which pushed the start time to 9:06 p.m. ET) to lack of hometown interest (the game did a 24.6 in Milwaukee compared to last year's 38.1 in Seattle). Fox is also quick to point out that the network easily won the night.

Major League Baseball's All-Star Game still outdraws the other professional sports. Its closest rival, the NBA, only managed to attract 7.8 million viewers to the hoops All-Star Game on NBC this season.

And there was one bright spot among the dismal baseball ratings. Numbers for ESPN's telecast of the Home Run Derby on Monday were way up, pulling a 6.1 rating (making the slugfest won by the Yankees' Jason Giambi the second-highest rated show this year on ESPN). That's up from a 5.2 rating last year.

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