According to this blurry picture of Roger Goodell making a hand gesture, Sunday Night Football, starring the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints, zipped past the TV ratings for the World Series.
When a regular season NFL game (18.1 million) beats the baseball championship (15.5 million) at life, for possibly the first time ever, someone’s got to answer for it. But who? And how? And do they actually have to answer for it?
Probably not. And here are some bulleted theories on the “anomaly.”
- There are more NFL fans than there are MLB fans
- When non-Steelers/Saints fans are deciding (or not) to tune in, they can do it knowing that next week, other teams will still be playing. Being in the middle of the regular season makes it easier to watch other teams, because technically, everyone still has a chance (sort of).
- Pittsburgh and New Orleans have each won a Super Bowl since 2009. The Giants haven’t won the World Series since West Germany joined NATO. The Rangers haven’t won it since they moved to Texas (Important note: They have played nowhere else). Nobody wants to call out an entire fan base (again), but it makes sense that two recently-crowned championship NFL teams carry more viewership weight than a match-up of first-timers.
- At this time of the year, many people might be sick of baseball. “Is this shit still on?!” they demand, hurling the remote at the TV before being asked to leave their local Best Buy.
- This combined with the fact that NFL teams play 1/10th of the games as MLB teams, but spend those games violently colliding with each other, makes NFL games seem more significant, explosive, and catalytic to their season.
- Of course, you could argue that this is the “World Effing Series,” but casual fans aren’t going to recognize the difference; it’s still baseball. And the nature of NFL games could attract more of the populace to football over baseball in the first place.
- What if it really just comes down to Tim McCarver/Joe Buck vs. this similar ongoing NFL problem of the last 14 years, and people are picking the one they can skip and still watch the game?
- According to my 36-year-old cousin who lives in my grandma’s basement, “becuz mlb is fukin dumb LOL.”
Well, the Giants had to go and win the World Series Monday night, ushering in a new age of poor television ratings. First, they finished the Rangers in five games. That collection of people who wander into the World Series seeking tension and anxiety to feast on didn’t even get a Game 6 or 7 to suckle this year; though, the east coast didn’t care about the whole thing from the start. The Series may have been good for baseball, but it was bad for the part of baseball that requires money.
Obviously, the answer is for each championship team from a professional sport to play the winners from other sports. They should just have a straight up bloody, barbaric, skirmish, using the equipment from their respective sports as weapons.
But stop thinking about a linebacker shattering Lebron James’ pelvis as he goes up for a ridiculous dunk, because it’s never going to happen.
Back on the 18th, when the Yankees were still a playoff team, even they couldn’t compete with the drawing power of that night’s Titans-Jaguars game, in which the Titans at one point snatched a 30-3 lead.
Remember those commercials from a bunch of years ago where Tommy Lasorda is wandering around in a tux, begging fans of non-contenders to watch the playoffs anyway, because they’re baseball fans? And I know so many people like to say that above all else they are fans of the game itself rather than a particular team, but that can be harder a harder philosophy to commit to than it sounds.
Even people who are watching baseball just because it is baseball aren’t very excited to be watching it. There’s an obligation involved, or maybe a small, glimmering hope that something historic, hilarious, or horrendous will occur. But if there’s no one you’re truly rooting for then it understandably becomes difficult to get emotionally invested in a game between a bunch of strangers for whom you feel nothing. Its like Thanksgiving with a family who has spent the last year bickering over dad’s inheritance.
So if it is hard enough to get actual fans of baseball to tune in and stay tuned in when only two teams are still playing, it has got to be astronomically challenging for MLB to seduce newcomers to the sport. Especially when the chief instruments of seduction are the slithering tones of Joe Buck and the broken mind of Tim McCarver.
Just for the sake of comparison, look at Philadelphia Phillies world championships. Don’t worry, this won’t take long.
- 1980 World Series: 56
- 2008 World Series: 14 (To be fair this was against the Rays, whose fanbase is a ghost town. In which the ghosts are all NFL fans).
“Rating” in this case is an estimate of the percentage of American homes tuning in. But regardless of what the numbers mean, it doesn’t take a calculator or a half-ass explanation from me to discover that 14 is a significantly lower number than 56.
With a decline like that being the norm, the only real question is how this is only the first time a regular season NFL game has beaten the World Series.
There are things baseball could do to try and help themselves. They could push NCAA baseball more (in the way that football and basketball have, but then again, a ton of people really hate the sound of metal bats hitting the ball). They could invent some sort of method to instantly replay a questionable call and decide whether or not it was correct (Though this could make a slow game slower). They could release a live, starved jungle cat onto the field after every half inning to ensure the players leave the field in a timely fashion (Though this puts umpires in a bit of a spot since they don’t get to leave the field).
But no, the rules that appear so antiquated (Baseball prefers the term “human”) will probably not undergo a huge overhaul anytime soon. Instead, they’ll just add another rung to the playoffs; Fox will put a camera somewhere new on the field; and baseball will fall behind “America’s Got Talent” in the ratings.
Just kidding. That already happened.