Wednesday, October 26, 2011

America's game?

Football is doing to baseball, what Ndamukong Suh does to opposing guards.

On Monday night, when the NFL was on cable (ESPN) with a terrible, essentially meaningless regular season game – the New Orleans Saints against a Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts – more people watched  the NFL's 62–7 blowout than a World Series 4–0 nail biter.

I'm not saying that baseball is dead, but if a World Series that's tied at 2-2 with all-star names like Pujols, Hamilton, and La Russa can't outdraw a mid-season matchup in the NFL, America's pastime is clearly past its prime.

I get it. We don't have the biggest teams with the biggest stars so the ratings are bound to be lower than a Yankees/Cubs series, but that's exactly the point.

Nobody tuned in to MNF to watch Curtis Paynter. They tuned in to watch the game. So obviously, it doesn't matter who's playing. Even if it had been the Browns and the Seahawks, Monday Night Football would have out-drawn the baseball game.

This is baseball's biggest event. A week long festival that's supposed to be an exclamation point on the end of a grueling 162 game trek where a champion is crowned and a loser sent home saying, "There's always next year."

Can baseball ever compete with football without a series of hall-of-famers on the field? Probably not. But if TV ratings are important to MLB (and they are) at some point their going to have to objectively look at the product as it's presented and make some changes.

Until then, their long slow slide into sports niche-dom will only continue.

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