During the Yankees’ unceremonious ALCS exit, some of the minor storylines (ie. nothing to do with A-Rod’s zipper issues) included scads of empty seats and the Nu Stadium and Nick Swisher falling from favor with his legion of Bleacher Bro’s Creatures.  While the former can be blamed to some extent on the economy and/or the Bombers’ annual post-season success being taken for granted, the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman suggests recent poor ratings for the YES Network point to, “an image taking a cockeyed turn,” if not  “a brand that is rusting around the edges.”

The Bombers averaged a 3.92 rating, down 8.3% from 2011 and YES’ lowest Yankees household rating since 2003. The nine-year low came during a season in which the Yankees battled Baltimore down to the wire to win the AL East, which should have driven the ratings to an all-time high. At the time we first reported the ratings drop, the thought was that more fans take it for granted the Yankees will punch their October ticket, so why watch? Considering the fan backlash and the Yankees’ reaction to it, maybe a negative perception had already caused these fans to turn off YES.

All of those old-grinder Paul O’Neill teams are now completely in the rear view mirror, finally replaced by a different breed of player, some of whom are perceived as selfish whiners. Players who went through the motions when their backs were to the wall.

How will this play on YES during the 2013 season? If the Yankees continue to be viewed as aloof and unlikable, if they give off an uncaring vibe, like Robinson Cano, the brand will be further tarnished. Like it or not, the current face of that brand is Alex Rodriguez.