Jim Henneman: Braves, Rays Would Be Intriguing Baseball Matchup, But …

So, just how do you think the Fox is feeling right about now?

At one time salivating over a bonanza with a highly anticipated New York-Los Angeles showdown in the World Series, the network is suddenly facing the possibility of a Tampa Bay-Atlanta matchup that would be a ratings disaster.

The Yankees and Dodgers used to be regular participants in the Fall Classic, but haven’t renewed their coast-to-coast rivalry since 1981, so the anticipation of a meeting between the teams with supposedly the most talent was off the charts.

But with the Yankees gone, the Dodgers on the equivalent of baseball’s death row, and the Bad Boy Astros on the brink of extinction, Fox is left without a semblance of what could be called a natural attraction. The Braves and Rays are not only neighbors in spring training, with 11 miles separating bases in Port Charlotte and North Port, Fla., but the distance between Atlanta and St. Petersburg, Fla., is a mere 479 miles.

It might be a tad early to bury the Dodgers, who showed life in a Game 2 loss to the Braves in the NLDS, but the possibility of a World Series matchup between two Eastern Time Zone teams isn’t very appealing to Fox. The Braves and Rays might be the two most intriguing teams in baseball’s version of a Sweet 16 tournament, and have certainly displayed an exciting brand, but they almost certainly would challenge the lowest ever World Series TV ratings.

And, of course, playing at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas, merely adds to the mystique in this crazy pandemic of a season.

Two weeks ago I was trying to figure out who Randy Arozarena was and why was he batting third in the Tampa Bay lineup. Now I know.

He’s not only the odds-on favorite to win the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award, he’s also the early choice to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award — next year. Go ahead, you can say it — “only during a pandemic.”

With apologies to Scott Van Pelt, here’s the best thing I’ve heard so far during the postseason: Chipper Jones, serving as an analyst, looking at an exaggerated defensive shift that left the left side of the infield wide open, saying “if I ever saw a shift like that … I’d have a much higher average.”

Coming from a switch-hitting Hall of Famer with a career average over .300 — from both sides of the plate. One of these days, Alice, somebody will figure it out. Maybe by getting Jones out of the TV booth and back in the dugout as a hitting coach.

Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com