The 2017 World Series is over and it turned out to be a great one, going the full seven games. Actually, when you think of it, it was great for only one team: the Houston Astros. It seemed like all the great moments broke in their favour when it really counted, during those close game two and game five late-inning situations. As for the LA Dodgers, they suffered too many pitching meltdowns at the worst times, with Yu Darvish wilting under the seventh game pressure to give up five runs in the first two innings. I had just come out from a reporting assignment when I turned on the car radio and learned the Astros were already up 5-0. The game was pretty much over right away.
So, a team that was this decade’s version of the ‘62 Mets only a few short years ago has made it all the way to the top, and they truly did build it from the ground up. (Toronto Blue Jays, let this be a lesson to you.) This Sports Illustrated cover from 2014 called it, with George Springer ending up as series MVP with all his home runs.
Anyway, the major league baseball season is over, and as far as I am concerned it should be over, because in my part of the world this whole place is cold and covered in snow! When that is the weather outdoors, you know it is time to move on to the winter sports.
This World Series ended up getting big ratings across the board, with TV ratings in both LA and Houston through the roof. This follows the epic 2016 World Series won by the Chicago Cubs, which also went seven full games and dominated the ratings.
Moreover, that crazy Sunday night 13-12 game on FOX that went 5.5 hours clobbered Sunday Night Football on NBC. You know, it wasn’t that long ago that it was the NFL beating Major League Baseball in the TV ratings, and everyone was writing the stories about baseball’s lack of popularity and so on. Needless to say, these good World Series TV ratings are great news for baseball. As one commentator on the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) had said, you don’t want to see baseball go the way of boxing or horse racing.
And it’s more bad news for the NFL, which continues to suffer from lousy ratings and empty seats all over America, in particular in baseball-mad Los Angeles. But it is also going on in places where the NFL is supposedly popular.
All this kneeling-during-the-anthem political protest nonsense continues to plague the reputation of the league with sports fans. Now I notice even advertiser Papa John’s is complaining about it and claiming their pizza sales are down because of this controversy! That prompted their arch-rivals Pizza Hut to counter, saying the controversy hasn’t impacted them. So take that, Papa John’s. (Actually, I think maybe they wanted to stir up some free publicity for themselves by saying this.)
But there is no doubt the ratings are down, and there are now stories that networks like ESPN might pull out of their expensive NFL contracts. There are stories circulating about how Thursday Night Football is diluting the overall ratings. And the rumors are on that the owners, led by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, might dump Roger Goodell as commissioner.
To which my response is: good! Let’s see what a new commissioner is capable of, because there has been a litany of problems under Goodell’s watch: concussions and franchise free agency among them. Anthem protests are the least of the issues.