Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) slides head first into home plate to score a run against San Francisco Giants catcher Heinemann (43) on a grounder by Justin Turner (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Opening Night games set viewership records

We don't have to wonder if American sports fans missed Major League Baseball amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, ESPN's Ben Cafardo reported that Thursday's New York Yankees versus Washington Nationals season-opener drew 4 million viewers on the Worldwide Leader. That set a record for MLB Opening Night viewership and was up 232 percent from last year's Opening Night broadcast.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Dodgers versus San Francisco Giants game, the second half of the Opening Night doubleheader, drew an average audience of 2,764,000 viewers. Per ESPN, the contest became the most-watched late-night MLB game in the network's history.

Some speculated that players honoring the "Black Lives Matter" movement before games and kneeling during renditions of the national anthem could turn viewers off. Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump reiterated previous comments about athletes kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" before games.

We don't know if Mr. Trump watched Thursday's action, but millions of individuals yearning for pro sports to return in the country during the uncontrolled virus outbreak clearly weren't too offended by anything they saw on ESPN. 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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