Nate Silver is good for one thing, and that’s telling you what side to not be on. There’s nothing a fan of any sport loves more than someone who hasn’t been following all season dropping in to tell you why the conclusion is terrible. If one doesn’t want to be seen anywhere near the man who set the record for being the most up his own ass in history, to the point that he came back around again and may have double-knotted, Silver will tell you where that area is:
This is perhaps the most annoying discussion point of any playoffs, as you’ll see it in not just baseball but the NBA and NHL. Whenever the Final or Finals is set, there are scores of scribes who can’t wait to tweet, “Boy, this Milwaukee-Denver matchup has the NBA offices looking like Lord Of The Flies!” or “ Gary Bettman has a voodoo doll to keep Edmonton and Carolina out of the Final again!” As if TV ratings are something that fans should be concerned with.
TV ratings or attendance is something that people who already don’t like the sport or teams use to taunt those who do and to justify their indifference. “I don’t care about the Diamondbacks so if you do you’re stupid because I know better.” That’s what TV ratings discussion is based in, and yet, has somehow slithered into the mainstream as something every fan should care about. This is an argument you hear about women’s sports all the time to justify the inequality, though that shrinks more and more as more and more people watch them. It was never about legitimacy.
As a wrestling fan, and especially an AEW fan, I’ve spent the past four years drowning in pointlessly loud and pointlessly pointless scream-fests about TV ratings. I can’t sum it up better than this:
Applying it to baseball, and specifically this World Series, there’s a lot here to entertain a baseball fan. And also, it’s the god damn World Series. If you love the game, you watch it. The only people who get really upset about TV ratings are executives, and who gives a flying fornication if they’re happy or not? They don’t care about you and would warp the sport however they saw fit, if given the leeway.
For the baseball-loving, there is plenty in the Rangers-Diamondbacks to sink teeth into. Yes, does the presence of two wild-card teams perhaps convince other teams that they don’t really have to aim for much more than 87-90 wins instead of 100? Could be, though that would be missing a great deal of what the Rangers and Diamondbacks are.
One, the Rangers lost the AL West on a tiebreaker. They were one of the AL’s best teams, and if you subscribe to the numbers that said the Orioles had a lot of air in their 101 wins, then there wasn’t all that much to split the O’s, Astros, Rangers, and Rays, convincingly the league’s best four teams. And the Rangers beat all of them on the way here, two of them convincingly.
No, the Diamondbacks aren’t great. It’s arguable if they’re even good. But this isn’t a hodge-podge of vets that just happened to Major League their way here. This is the start of the D-Backs arc and it’s likely we’ll see them in one or two more NLCS in the coming years, given the age of the core at work here. It is likely their 84 wins this season is merely a stepping stone, and should the Dodgers’ run ever come to an end, Arizona is the most poised to take over.
Digging deeper, the world has already been introduced to Adolis Garcia and the Cedar Point levels of fun he provides. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager are stars both with bat and glove. Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi are pitching like October aces that we’re so desperate to attach to the Hall of Famers active now. Sure, the bullpen sucks, but won’t that make it more fun? Doesn’t everyone want to see Aroldis Chapman eat it on the biggest stage?
As for Arizona, Corbin Carroll, even with his NLCS struggles, is Beta Mookie Betts 2.0. Watching Alek Thomas chase down line drives in center is catnip. This is the best defensive infield around. Zac Gallen grew up a Cardinals fan, but now hates them after working for them. Who can’t get behind that? Brandon Pfaadt’s stuff is as fun to watch as any pitcher in this series, even if he’s only around for a trip and a half through the opposing lineup.
So why should any baseball fan care that there might not be as many other people, that they can’t see and don’t know, not watching the game they are watching? How does that impact their enjoyment in the slightest? More to the point, if Fox execs bitch enough to MLB execs about downed ratings in the division series or the World Series, and this playoff system not producing enough games between teams people want to watch, maybe they’ll change it to make the regular season matter more. That’s a win, too.
Watch the World Series if you want, you’ll probably enjoy it. And don’t sweat people you don’t know not watching it. These types of articles are always code for baseball/hockey/basketball writers bitching about not getting to go to towns on the company dime they’d prefer to get drunk in, anyway.