If a home run is hit in the World Series, and less than 10 per cent of Americans are there to watch it, does a home run really count as a hit?
The World Series—formerly the pinnacle of American sports—where heroes such as Bill Mazeroski could make every child dream and Reggie Jackson could acquire the name Mr. October, has faded into the background. With the suspension of Wednesday’s pivotal game six—the first elimination game of the series thus far—it became more apparent that Americans couldn’t be bothered to watch the World Series.
The most telling example of the American population’s indifference to the World Series is the poor and ever-declining television ratings. During the week of October 17—a week in which four World Series games were played—the top rated shows were NCIS and Dancing With the Stars. Included in this week, Albert Pujols—arguably the greatest player of the last decade—produced the greatest game in World Series history. Unfortunately for Bud Selig and his woebegone marketing division, the game was watched by a paltry 9.2 percent of the population as opposed to the 11.6 percent of the population that watched Rob Kardashian—famous for being famous—shake his rump.
These ratings are in stark contrast to the 11.7 percent average that the 2009 World Series had, in which the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies. The 11.7 per cent average is nothing to brag about for two of baseballs biggest markets. It seems as though the World Series lost its lustre somewhere between the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1982 and the 1994 strike that prevented the World Series from occurring. Having been upwards of 30 per cent in the early ‘80s, it is safe to say that the World Series is not the spectacle it used to be.
I understand that Texas and St. Louis do not have the baseball fan bases that New York and Philadelphia have, but that shouldn’t matter, this is the World freaking Series. Littered with storylines from Tony LaRussa versus Ron Washington, to Albert Pujols and his impending free agency, the World Series has no shortage of drama.
Personally, I don’t blame the American public for averting their eyes from this molasses-paced disaster. The average American does not have four hours a night to devote to watching television, and even if they did, why would anyone appreciate a game that consists largely of pick-off throws to first and fourth inning mound visits?
It may be too late but Bud Selig truly has to re-evaluate the post season viewing experience. Not every market has fans prepared to watch their teams slug out a 2-1 victory until 1:30 a.m. Whether it’s limiting timeouts per at-bat, instituting a strict time limit on each pitch, or even speeding up the breaks in between innings, baseball needs to recapture October. Despite the meat of the NFL season and the beginning of the NHL season, baseball’s championship should rule the airwaves. In a world plagued with short attention spans, baseball is still clinging on to tradition—but in this case, slow and steady may not win the race.