Terrence Moore thinks baseball is getting its comeuppance. Greedy owners, he says, should have known better than to try and play baseball games in late October:

All baseball had to do was listen to Selig and do something such as go from 162 games to 154 in the regular season. Then the division series would begin no later than the last week of September instead of early October. Then you wouldn’t have what you have now: A World Series featuring television ratings dropping as fast as the temperature in Philadelphia.

How bad have the ratings been? Historically bad. It hasn’t helped that two of the three games played in Philadelphia have been interupted by bad weather.

Nor has it helped that both teams play on the east coast.

And it really hasn’t helped that the Rays’ fanbase all know each other on a first name basis.

Moore is right. Baseball needs to make its season shorter. That could mean playing fewer games. Or it could mean starting the season earlier (though the weather in March is just as cold as it is in October). Or it could mean playing more doubleheaders.

Something needs to be done.

For the owners, this craptacular World Series is justice. But for the fans (especially Philly fans) it’s just sad. Why are we being punished for the owners’ greediness? We deserve a World Series that isn’t tainted by long delays and crappy umpiring. Moreover, we deserve a World Series where people are watching! This is our big moment! We’ve been waiting 28 years for this! Pay attention!

14 Responses to “If a championship is won in a rain storm and nobody is watching it on TV, does it make a sound?”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    I think instead of shortening the season, they can just have fewer off-days in the middle of the playoffs. It’s lame and it breaks up the tension of each series. Plus it allows too much roster finagling — look, each team made it to the postseason with their crappy mop-up men and back-of-the-rotation starters. The postseason should reflect their contributions, too! It shouldn’t just be about putting your top three starters out there and only using your best set-up men. At the very least, managers should have to decide whether to use a fourth starter or go to their ace on short rest. That would be much more interesting, and it would take much less time. I don’t see why a five-game or seven-game series should get two off-days in the middle.

  2. Coley Ward says:

    I think you’re right, Sarah. And to his credit, Bud Selig has proposed doing away with unnecessary off days. But I’m not sure that goes far enough. I think MLB needs to play a few more double headers during the season, so that the World Series is finished by mid-October. Can you believe that next year the season is going to go even later, because it’s starting a week late to accomodate the World Baseball Championships?!

  3. How about the national media laying off the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodger crack pipe for a moment or two during the season? The ubiquitous coverage of only chosen* major market teams drowns out any mention of the other 90% of the league for the casual fan. Sure a Red Sox – Dodgers series would have make for great drama, but a subpar World Series. The Rays and Phillies have played the best October baseball and it’s a shame that the media glosses over it for a chance to drop another “Manny being Manny” reference. Stop babying the consumer and report on baseball, not a handful of teams, then maybe MLB won’t be disappointed by ratings when an underdog makes it to the series.

    * Dated Arbitron statistics from 1970 claim Philadelphia as the 4th largest media market. Watching ESPN, you wouldn’t think that.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    Well, even the fourth largest media market can’t make up for the fact that Tampa has about 30 fans. As much as people claimed they were excited about the Rays’ worst-to-first story, they aren’t really invested. Certainly not invested enough to sit through rain delays and stay up all night waiting for the games to finish.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    From 1970? Dude, there has been a LOT of change since then. I think Texas alone probably has four media markets bigger than Philly right now. (Exaggerating but not by much.)

    I have little sympathy for your viewpoint, Joe, since watching this series unfold. I thought it was going to be a great one — and would have joined you in lambasting the national media for openly lusting after a Series with a quote-unquote storyline — but the level of play we’ve seen has not been that great. We’ve seen some really solid pitching….and not much else. The Rays’ fantastic defense suddenly sucks. Runners have been left all over the basepaths. It’s been lame and boring, and that has nothing to do with the home cities of the two teams involved and everything to do with the quality of play we’ve seen on the field.

  6. Sarah Green says:

    That’s a good point Coley about the late games. King Kaufman made fun, today, of all the people claiming that “millions of imaginary 8-year-olds” will suffer lifelong trauma from these late start times, which don’t allow them to stay up and watch the end of the games. Really, of course, it’s not about the 8-year olds. It’s about us working stiffs who can’t stay up until midnight or 1 am or whathaveyou. Even an 8pm start time—an hour later than the regular season start time—wouldn’t be that bad. But I can’t wait until 8:37, even if that means that people in California might miss the first two innings.

    One note: I was too hasty when I mocked Philadelphia’s media market. It still is No. 4, apparently. Tampa Bay is No. 12.

  7. Sarah – fair enough. I agree with you about the quality of play during this series. And the starting time. My bitching about ESPN and it’s golden markets stand.

  8. BTW, you have the luxury of complaining about ratings after the fact. I’m pretty certain that game one ratings were just as relatively abysmal as the rest.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    Joe, I don’t mean this in as bitchy a way as it is going to sound; I just honestly don’t know what you are trying to say. So: what is the point you are making?

    I got my Sports Illustrated in the mail today—Tom Verducci has a cover story calling this World Series a delight for “connoisseurs.” So far, though, I’d say it’s been a delight only for “Phillies fans.”

  10. Coley Ward says:

    I’m obviously a little biased, but I think this World Series was pretty great, minus the really crappy weather. It had big name stars like Utley, Hamels, Rollins, Howard, Crawford, Longoria, Upton and Kazmir. It had stellar defense from both teams (I thought Iwamura was awarded one more error than he deserved). The pitching was superb, especially the bullpens, and especially Brad Lidge. Really, the only black mark on the series (other than the weather) was Longoria and Pena’s anemic hitting and the Phillies’ inability to drive in runs from third with less than two outs. But there are always guys who disappear during the World Series, just as there are guys who come out of nowhere. I suppose, from a fan’s perspective, it would have been nice to see it go to seven games, but I’m glad the Phillies got the chance to clinch at home. And I’m glad Hamels won the MVP. He’s a total badass.

  11. My point is/was that the teams’ play in the WS was irrelevant. (Game one’s ratings were evidence of this. Up until that point, I believe both the Rays and Phillies had played decent baseball.) In my eyes, the ratings problem stems from major media outlets focusing on only a few teams during the season. When none of those teams are left playing in the playoff, it’s not surprising that people tune out. MSM is perfectly within their rights to focus on whatever they believe sells during the regular season. However, they shouldn’t bitch when their marketing strategy backfires come playoff time.

    (Lost between a few beers and my post last night was a follow-up post in agreement about the quality of WS play, the horrible starting times, Bud Selig, etc.)

    At this point, I am willing to attribute my thesis to the paranoid delusions of a Philadelphia sports fan. If you thought Boston lives in the shadow of NYC, try living only 70 miles away.

  12. OK twice my comments have disappeared after posting. Last night I could explain as user error from too many beers. This morning, mostly sober, I doubt it.

    In short, Sarah, my complaint was regarding MSM’s strategy of marketing only a few teams during the regular season. This is a great strategy for 162 games when all of them play. However, once the playoffs start and these teams drop out, casual fans are left watching, or more accurately not watching, a bunch of no-names.

    In last night’s lost post, I agreed with you regarding the play in the World Series itself (as well as the starting times, Bud Selig, etc.) Up until Game One, both World Series teams had played decent, entertaining baseball. However, since neither team hailed from a “chosen market”, the chance of this series having high ratings were slim right out of the shoot. The sloppy play and field only made it worse.

    In this morning’s lost post, I suggested that my ramblings could be attributed to a Philadelphia sports fan’s long established inferiority complex. If you think Boston lives in NYC’s shadow, try living in only 70 miles south west it. Case in point, I was not surprised that you were surprised that Philly was still a top 5 media market.

    By now I think I have beaten the horse into a bloody pulp. I will finish by saying that Philly fans will take this ugly step child of a Championship. Nothing comes easy to any of our sports teams and somehow winning “the worst World Series ever” is fitting.

  13. Coley Ward says:

    I dunno, Joe. I think it’s a chicken or the egg thing. Does ESPN and the mainstream media obsess over the Yankees and Red Sox and Cubs because those teams have a huge fan base? Or do those teams have a huge fanbase because the main stream media covers them so heavily? I’d say the former, but it’s a vicious cycle. And, whatever. The Phillies won the World Series. I got to watch every minute of it on national TV. And I didn’t have to stay up all hours of the night to do it, like all those suckers on the east coast.

  14. I was surprised by a lot of people’s opinions even before the LCS’s were over with that Rays and Phillies would be a bad draw in terms of ratings. Maybe cause I don’t totally understand your market, or maybe I just don’t “get stuff” period, but to me, the Rays in the W.S. was a great story and as much as I hate to admit it as a Mets fan, the Phillies are a great ball club and truly deserved to be there (and win) so who in their right mind would not be pumped for that W.S. matchup cause I was.
    Maybe it’s because I’m still a relative baseball noob (this was my 4th season following baseball) but even the rain-abandoned game was cool – cause it was one of the quirks of the sport. I can imagine how annoying it was for everyone else though.

    In short, all I’m trying to say is the fact that the Rays made it to the final was, in my opinion, great for baseball. And the fact that the title was won by a great team managed by a great of the sport – and that team wasn’t the Yankees or the Red Sox or even the Dodgers – was a really cool end to the season.

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