Watching Baseball at 5 a.m.? YES

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For purists, Monday is Major League Baseball’s 2004 Opening Day. But many around the Big Apple certainly got a jump on their hardball viewing when the Bronx Bombers made their first road trip of the season Tuesday and Wednesday, playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in Tokyo.

The Yankees/Rays opening game Tuesday generated a 3.1 household rating (228,665 households) in the New York DMA, according to Nielsen Media Research -- not bad considering the fact that the Yanks averaged a 3.4 (250,794 households) on Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network during the 2003 campaign and the game was on at 5 a.m. (there’s a 14-hour time difference between the East Coast and the land of the really early rising sun).

The second game of the set earned a 2.4 (177,000 households) during its premiere window.

On a cumulative basis, the first game, with two encores, pulled a 4.2 rating, while the second contest scored a 3.8, according to YES officials.