Is It Time for a Change?
Texas 11, Arizona 7
OK, today’s the day in Nashville! I hope you’ll come out — I’ll be talking and reading some baseball, Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart will be playing some music to accompany me, Negro Leagues Museum president Bob Kendrick will be there, too, and we’ll tell some Buck stories I’m sure, we’ll offer some World Series updates I’m sure, it really will be a special night. The event is tonight, 8:30 p.m., at the Listening Room Cafe.
Tickets online are $44 and include a copy of the book; I’m told they will be selling some $15 tickets at the door without the book. I hope you can make it!
Hmm, so it turns out that when you have a World Series bullpen game — as Arizona obviously felt forced to do on Tuesday by starting lefty reliever Joe Mantiply — there’s a chance the game will turn out to be a stinker. What a surprise. The Diamondbacks gave up 10 runs while using four pitchers in the first three innings.
The Rangers inexplicably countered by using six relief pitchers after starter Andrew Heaney’s solid five innings (including wildly overworked closer Jose Leclerc) and the Diamondbacks scored a bunch of pretty meaningless runs. It was a three-hour and 18-minute game that felt quite a bit longer, and that comes from someone who wrote a book called WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL.
It will surely be the lowest-rated World Series game on record, and while we here at JoeBlogs do not confuse baseball’s overall health and popularity with World Series ratings, there is a question to be asked.
Before we talk about that question, let me say something about those Arizona Diamondbacks fans: They were awesome last night. They stayed in the game long after it was over, cheered wildly when it was 10-0, stuck it out all the way to the end when the Diamondbacks made their ill-fated but still gallant final comeback. The passion was noticeable and lovely; it was like a whole stadium of fans on Halloween thought, at the same time, “Hey, this is the World Series, we NEVER thought the D-Backs were going to get here, this is the greatest, let’s party.” It really was moving.
I need to say that first because, yes, the Diamondbacks are the big reason why this will almost certainly be the lowest-rated World Series ever. If Philadelphia had made the series instead of Arizona, there would probably be two to three million more people watching. That’s just television math. This is not the fault of Arizona fans or the players themselves; the Diamondbacks are new and they have no national appeal, and they do not have millions of fans scattered across the country, and they don’t have any stars who will draw in casual fans. Corbin Carroll is an exciting young player … but he’s not Bryce Harper or Trea Turner or Kyle Schwarber, at least not yet. You have to be a pretty fervent baseball fan to tune in for Corbin Carroll.
As such, Game 1, unsurprisingly, was the lowest-rated World Series Game 1 on record, and then Game 2 was even lower-rated — the lowest-rated ever for any game, including those Dodgers-Rays World Series games played during the pandemic. It held the record for only two days because Game 3 was even lower-rated than that. I haven’t seen anything yet on last night’s game, but I suspect it will break the record again, and surely Game 5 will not improve matters.
Some three-to-four million more people per game watched last year’s NBA Finals between Denver and Miami. Then again, some three-to-four million more people watched last year’s World Series between Philadelphia and Houston.
As I say, much of this is simply television math. A World Series matchup between the Rangers and Diamondbacks just isn’t going to capture the nation’s attention. You get a World Series with the Cubs or Cardinals or Red Sox or (heaven forbid) Yankees, and the numbers would be dramatically higher. The NBA and NHL are limited by such things too. Only the NFL and the Super Bowl is more or less immune to the whims of television viewership.
But … a question does remain:
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