All things considered, you’d probably think most baseball aficionados would agree that the 2019 World Series was among the more intriguing in at least a decade — unless, of course, you are a Cubs fan, in which case you won’t believe anything can be that exciting for another century or so.
Unfortunately for the purists, however, aficionados aren’t the ones who write the most compelling critiques, which tend not to change much from one year to the next. And so, we heard again that baseball is too slow, the games are too long, they end too late and that TV ratings are down — again — for all of those reasons we’ve heard before.
Oh, by the way, did anybody notice that the Nationals won the World Series for the first time in franchise history, the first for Washington in 95 years and that the home team lost every one of the seven games?
Really? Gee, how did we miss that?
Probably because we were too busy noting that the TV ratings for the World Series as a whole and Game 7 in particular were the lowest since 2012, when the Detroit Tigers lost to the San Francisco Giants. Well, guess what — the last Super Bowl ratings were the lowest they’d been in 10 years, and don’t bother me by comparing the 98 million for one Sunday evening game as compared to 23 million for a weeknight Game 7.
It doesn’t take a Nielsen ratings genius to point out that the Super Bowl is the No. 1-rated television show in any given year, regardless of who is playing. And it doesn’t take a pace-of-game genius to tell us that baseball could use a speedup vitamin. But we’re talking about the World Series here — and the three-plus minutes of commercials between each half inning (more than 51 minutes per game this year with the home team always batting in the bottom of the ninth) is a tolerable tradeoff for the most part.
As for those of us living in the Eastern Time Zone who continually complain about kids not watching games because they run past midnight (two of the seven did this year), it’s worth noting that it’s earlier than 11 p.m. in the other three time zones and two hours earlier than that on the West Coast, which is home to many more future major leaguers than the others.
The bottom line is that baseball doesn’t have a time limit, like the other major sports. There is no four-corners offense or prevent defense, and only the weather can deprive the losing team of 27 outs.
Can baseball be tedious at times? Without a doubt. Is there a way to speed it up? Without question. With the amount of commercials that can now be run during “live action,” it seems to be relatively easy to reduce the time of commercial breaks. Will that ever happen? No — and one reason is the amount of advertising dollars on those multi-million dollar jumbo screens, which are so vital to your in-house game day entertainment.
There are those who think all sports should be modeled after live theatrical shows, where the curtain goes up 10 minutes after the advertised time, a first act is followed by a brief intermission and a mini-act as a finale.
It comes all wrapped up in a tidy two hours and 40 minute package — and always ends the same way. Which, of course, is the difference between the real world and make believe.
Didn’t you just love “former” Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole’s explanation for the hat he wore to his post-Game 7 World Series news conference? “I don’t work for the team [anymore],” the pending free agent said while wearing a hot with the logo of agent Scott Boras’ corporation.
Memo from Earth to Cole: “Just in case you missed the small print, you don’t work for Boras — he works for you!” Very hard I might add.
Is anybody else wondering why the Phillies allowed Joe Girardi to go for a second interview with the Mets after he apparently had an agreement in place? Or, for that matter, why the Mets even bothered if they knew the ex-Yankees skipper wasn’t their man?
When it comes to a relief pitcher starting a game, who knows the difference between using an “opener” or calling it a “bullpen game?”
Justin Verlander might be the first pitcher to record 200 strikeouts during postseason play, but it doesn’t cover the fact that, lucky or unlucky, he’s dealing with the Clayton Kershaw jinx when it comes to the World Series.
Baseball fans in the District of Columbia weren’t the only ones celebrating the Nationals’ win against the Astros in the World Series. Veteran baseball scouts were dancing in the streets all around the country. In case you hadn’t noticed, Houston’s front office has become the most despised in baseball and, sour grapes or not, that isn’t going to change for awhile because the Astros aren’t going away anytime soon.
I’m hoping the Orioles can find a way to energize their fan base as much as FanFest has done in the past, but given the fact that there were a few games last year that didn’t attract as many people, I tend to doubt it.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/PressBox
Issue 259: November 2019