Can I get a show of hands for who would have picked the 2011 World Series matchup of the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Texas Rangers?
Anyone at all? No one? Not so shocking because, quite honestly, who would have predicted that outcome at the start of the 2011 season?
Who cares about the World Series?
If you thought last year’s World Series (San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers in which SFG won) was dull and drew low ratings (8.4 rating was the lowest in history – tied with 2008 Tampa Bay Rays vs. Philadelphia Phillies), well, it’s pretty much the same situation this year.
You guessed it: Two non-east coast teams, in not-so-big sports markets, competing yet again for baseball’s title. Yes, the Cardinals have a great fan base in St. Louis and it’s bigger than San Francisco’s, but let’s be honest: it’s nothing compared to the fan bases of baseball’s powerhouse east coast teams. As for the Rangers’ fan base, it’s just beginning to take shape. In two consecutive American League West division titles and American League Pennants later (2010 & 2011), it’s grown, but still is no match for the eastern teams. For Fox broadcasting, this means another year of record low World Series ratings.
It’s no secret that Fox’s broadcasting of the playoffs and World Series is always higher when any of the big east coast teams are in it. Those teams have bigger fan bases, the names fans want to see, the history, so much more at stake, and most importantly…
The most amount of haters.
Believe it or not, but the New York Yankees are good for baseball. So are the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and (wait for it) New York Mets.
How can these teams, all four of which are in the top 10 in payroll, be good for the game? How can these teams that buy talent be considered vital to baseball? Aren’t their tactics for success ruining the game for fans of smaller market teams?
While the average small-market fan hates these teams for all the reasons mentioned above, television broadcasting stations and Major League Baseball, on the other hand, have a different opinion.
It’s all about the money.
Consider the following statistics:
- 2010 World Series: Giants vs. Rangers – Ratings Average of 8.8
- 2009 World Series: Yankees vs. Phillies – Ratings Average of 11.7
- 2008 World Series: Phillies vs. Rays – Ratings Average of 8.4
- 2007 World Series: Red Sox vs. Rockies – Ratings Average of 10.7
- 2006 World Series: Cardinals vs. Tigers – Ratings Average of 10.1
- 2005 World Series: White Sox vs. Astros – Ratings Average of 11.2
- 2004 World Series: Red Sox vs. Cardinals – Ratings Average of 15.8
- 2003 World Series: Marlins vs. Yankees – Ratings Average of 12.8
- 2002 World Series: Angels vs. Giants – Ratings Average of 12.0
- 2001 World Series: Diamondbacks vs. Yankees – Ratings Average of 15.5
- 2000 World Series: Yankees vs. Mets – Ratings Average of 15.5
Of the Top Five World Series ratings of the past decade, four featured at least one east coast team. As well, one can note the significant drop in ratings after the 2007 World Series, in which the Red Sox played, to the 2008 World Series (before Philadelphia became a major powerhouse) which featured, at the time, two small market teams.
However, after Philadelphia won the 2008 World Series and found themselves in the 2009 World Series against baseball’s most-watched money-making machine, the Yankees, ratings rose over 30%, only to fall back down 30% during the 2010 World Series.
So, why do television broadcasts and Major League Baseball do so well when east coast teams (specifically the Yankees, who appear 3/5 times in the top five) are in the World Series?
It’s simple, really: People want to see the Yankees lose.
Baseball fans hate the Yankees. They hate their money, winning, and fans. Consider this: Last year, TBS broadcasted the ALCS between the Yankees and Rangers, averaging a 5.1 rating. This year, TBS broadcasted the NLCS between the Cardinals and Brewers, drawing a 2.9 rating. Drop-off much?
That’s not to say baseball fans don’t hate the Phillies or Red Sox as well. They have just as much money and winnings as the Yankees do. But it’s a fact: people want to see the best teams in baseball in the World Series. That’s why the Red Sox and Phillies was supposed to be a lock for this year’s fall classic. Had the Red Sox not collapsed, and Philadelphia not underperformed, ratings for this year’s series might be on the cusp of the top five.
I’m still going to watch the World Series. I love baseball, and always will. Will I care as much though, seeing as neither of baseball’s best teams in their respective leagues are in it? Probably not. No one, I mean no one, could have predicted this World Series. I don’t expect these ratings to be at an all-time-low however. St. Louis is a great baseball city and their fans will get those ratings up.
As John Sterling always says: “You can’t predict baseball.”
Cardinals in seven.