A-Rod ‘Sideshow’ Drives Ticket Prices Up 24% as Yankees Slump

Interest in “the sideshow” of Alex Rodriguez’s Yankee Stadium season debut after injuries and a record drug ban is driving secondary ticket-market sales as New York’s playoff chances diminish.

The average resale price for the Yankees’ home game tomorrow night against the Detroit Tigers has risen 24 percent, to $112 from $90, since Aug. 5, when Rodriguez was given a 211-game doping ban, according to ticket aggregator TiqIQ. Available seats are down 47 percent, to about 5,000, since the announcement.

Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman and designated hitter, filed an appeal yesterday allowing him to play until the drug penalty is resolved. The three-time Most Valuable Player is batting .273 in three games since returning from January hip surgery hours after being banned by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. The Yankees last night dropped their fourth straight game and third since Rodriguez’s return, falling 11 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the American League East, their biggest deficit of the season.

“The best way to quantify this increase is to say that fans want to see the sideshow,” Chris Matcovich, a spokesman for New York-based TiqIQ, said in an e-mail. “The team has obviously been struggling as of late, but the circumstances surrounding Rodriguez have piqued an interest among even casual fans.”

The cheapest tickets for the matchup between pitchers Rick Porcello of the Tigers and Ivan Nova of the Yankees are $49, a 104 percent increase since Aug. 5. The least expensive entry the following day is $26.

Eyewitness Views

“They want to see first-hand how people react, as well as express their own sentiment toward A-Rod,” said Matcovich.

The Yankees’ 6-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox last night dropped New York to 57-56, in fourth place in the five-team AL East. Idle today, a loss tomorrow would drop the Yankees to .500 for the first time since April 13, when they were 5-5.

New York also is seven games out in the race for one of two AL wild-card berths, trailing six other clubs. The wild cards go to the non-division winners with the best records.

Selig said when suspending Rodriguez that the 38-year-old All-Star used testosterone and human growth hormone over “multiple years” and tried to “obstruct and frustrate” baseball’s investigation of a now-defunct anti-aging clinic in Florida that was supplying athletes with banned drugs.

Twelve other major-leaguers accepted 50-game sanctions on Aug. 5, leaving Rodriguez as the only player to appeal.

The return of Rodriguez to the Yankees helped produce the highest television rating of the season for the team’s regional network, where viewership for games has dropped about 36 percent from a year ago.

The Aug. 5 game between the Yankees and the White Sox in Chicago drew a 4.3 rating on the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, according to figures provided by YES. The previous high was a 4.2 for the Yankees’ game against the New York Mets on May 27, according to YES.

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