Major League Baseball is celebrating a ratings bonanza this October, and it’s not just because of the excitement and intrigue that has characterized a large portion of this postseason.
The biggest reason for the ratings boost is the presence of so many big-market teams with national followings. The Yankees won the American League Wild Card game, which put a huge market in play (along with Boston) for both AL Division Series while the Los Angeles and Chicago were already in play in the National League.
The only thing wrong with the NLCS, as far as MLB and the television networks were concerned, was that it ended two games too early, but they’ll still be popping champagne if the Yankees can finish off the Astros and set up the ultimate coast-to-coast historical rivalry World Series.
I’ve got to confess that I’m all in on this, too, for a variety of reasons, one of which was my presence at the last World Series featuring the Dodgers and Yankees back in 1981. I was a rookie Dodgers beat writer that year and had quite a ride from Fernandomania through the first three-tiered postseason (thanks to the long players strike and the inclusion of a split-season play-in series).
The Dodgers and Yankees have played each other a few times in the Fall Classic, including the 1955 World Series that pitted the favored Yanks against the “Boys of Summer” and ended with the first-ever Dodgers world title.
The Dodgers have generally been the underdog when these two teams meet, but they won’t be if the Yankees can beat the Astros one more time.
There has been a lot made recently about baseball’s ratings resurgence and the ratings decline that has stricken the NFL in the wake of the ongoing national anthem controversy, but it would not be fair for baseball or the media to draw much from the comparison.
Apples and oranges.
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