With a breather in the MLB playoffs last night, it’s the perfect time to break down the League Championship Series.
I don’t write much about baseball here for a couple reasons. First, I’m not that big a fan, that’s a topic for another post. Second, there are about a million writers out there breaking down xFIP and SIERA (Google them if you want, I have no idea). I’m not touching that level of analysis, and apparently every metric I thought defined a “good” baseball player is worthless.
So instead of breaking down what’s happening on the field, I’ll tackle one that hits closer to home.
Does your level of “give a crap” change at all with two underdogs on the verge of the World Series?
If you aren’t aware, the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles are playing for the right to represent the American League in the World Series. Kansas City is up 2-0, so maybe only the Royals are on the verge of the World Series…but I digress.
Before the series started, I’d have predicted more sports fans would be interested in this series for three reasons:
The end of the “dynasty” –
Not that there really has been one in baseball since the Yankees in the ‘90s, but baseball certainly has that reputation.
With the Orioles and Royals (and their combined 58 years without an appearance in the World Series) in the running for a championship, I thought this would be a triumph for the “little guy.” And everyone loves an underdog story, right?
What else is going on? –
It’s not like Week 6 of the NFL or the NBA preseason (and hasn’t the NHL started?) is a real distraction. We could easily shift our attention away from those sports for a few weeks and tune back in when things get interesting.
The Royals have been really interesting. –
The reason that confuses me the most. The Royals started the playoffs with an extra-innings win in the 1-game Wild Card round. They moved onto the Anaheim Angels, considered the best team in baseball, and swept them (two more extra-inning games by the way).
If that wasn’t enough, they went up 2-0 on Baltimore, with another extra-inning game.
So the Royals went from 30 years without a playoff appearance to 6-0 in the playoffs this year with four extra-inning wins. If Disney wrote that script you’d say it was Red Tails way too unbelievable and cheesy.
How could you not tune in for this team?
Well, no one really has. More specifically, no one who wasn’t already watching baseball has.
There has been a prevailing thought that baseball, already far less popular than football, is in danger of become completely irrelevant in coming years. Many others would (and have) argue that attendance is up and TV ratings are healthy. So why hasn’t this series felt…bigger?
I think the issue is the lack of star players in this series and baseball in general. How many baseball players could you confidently pick out in a crowded bar? A dozen?
How many players can you name on the Angels? Again, this was a team many thought was the best in the sport heading into the playoffs?
So that begs the question: Are you watching? What would it take to sway you if not? Are you more or less of a baseball fan than you were ten years ago?
Hit the comments and let me know!
I’ve paid more attention to the NLCS, which is rare in itself. It calls shenanigans on what sports fans want, they swear they tired of the Sox, Yankees and inevitable Tigers collapses (sorry.) But when they aren’t there then well, who cares. Also no one is here for Fox Sports 1. No one.
Before I share my thoughts, I agree with Tristan that broadcasting it on Fox Sports 1 isn’t helping at all — I love baseball and I haven’t watched a single game on FS1 because I don’t get the channel.
1. Every metric you thought defined a good baseball player IS more or less worthless (ordinary batting average, ERA, etc.), because it’s given in a vacuum without any context. And unless you’re working on at least a per-play basis, every statistic people probably think defines good football players/teams is also worthless (total offense/defense, yards per game, etc.).
2. I think baseball, by nature, is a popular, but VERY localized sport. What I mean by that is most baseball fans follow their team, first and foremost, because the sport requires literally an every day commitment (moreso than basketball or hockey). It’s hard to know a whole ton about other teams because there’s no full week of downtime to get caught up on everything like there is with football. You learn about other teams as you play them. I know a lot of folks who don’t watch the playoffs when their team isn’t involved, which is fine, because that’s pretty much exactly what you’re limited to during the season. I keep up with baseball outside of my team as much as I can, but I can’t tell you the ins-and-outs of say, the Padres’ lineup and rotation, because my team doesn’t play against the NL West.
3. To add on what I said above, there’s not a lot of “star power” because MLB doesn’t market its stars on national TV. You see the same teams on FOX every Saturday — the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants. You might know who Andrew McCutcheon and Adam Jones and Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez are, but unless you live locally, you’ll hardly ever get the chance to see them play. National MLB broadcasts don’t draw nearly the ratings that other sports do (people like to use this for the “baseball is dying” crap without bringing up that they still get way better ratings than whatever FOX would be showing instead), but attendance, local TV ratings, and revenue are as high as they’ve ever been, which goes again to my point above: people watch their team.
If the Nationals had won, I definitely would be watching.
Never really cared for baseball. It’s slow moving and there are very few black all stars. And its the longest season EVER. I love this time of the year because the baseball season is coming to an end and Basketball and Football began…Its sad too, I was born and raised in the Bronx..lol I should be a hardcore Yankee fan but neh
It’s tough for some because the perennial big market teams aren’t in it unless you count LA. Although I have enjoyed it, whatever I can catch. I’m happy for KC seeing as though they sucked for years..YEARS. I was hoping pittsburgh would have went far this year, really enjoy watching Andrew Mckutcheon. All in all, I’m cool rooting for the underdog so the playoffs didn’t bother me too much.Oakland needs to get it together though, or else I don’t see much of a future for Mr. Moneyball Billy Beane
Oh yeah by the way the Giants may be on to some sort of dynasty here