Outside of Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, Few Are Paying Attention To Baseball’s Biggest Event
There used to be a time in America when teachers would roll TVs into classrooms and dads would sneak out of work early to head home to watch it. When the games moved into prime time, nearly every living room in the country was tuned in to see what long-lasting and dramatic event might happen.
It was even called the Fall Classic, and classic it was, with great moments and heroes excelling on the nation’s biggest sports stage.
There were memorable moments – Don Larsen’s perfect game, Carlton Fisk’s “stay fair, stay fair” wave to the ball, Reggie Jackson’s thundering blasts in Yankees Stadium that earned him the nickname “Mr. October,” Kirk Gibon’s fist-pump home run – that live forever.
Unfortunately, baseball destroyed all that, and what we have left now is a World Series that gets less national media attention than that weekend’s slate of National Football games.
On a night when the St. Louis Cardinals – a classic team in the fall, to be sure – opened Game 1 of the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers, a bigger story was the suspension of three LSU football players, including potential Heisman Trophy winner Tyrann Mathieu (or “Honey Badger,” if you prefer).
Granted, there are plenty of distractions today that did not previously exist, but juiced up baseballs, followed by a decade now known as The Steroids Era, has not only hurt the game of baseball but put its premier event behind the regular seasons of other sports. Heck, MLB even cancelled the World Series one year; if it’s not that important to the people in the game then why should we care?
It’s great that local fans in St. Louis and Dallas can get excited about their team, but the World Series used to have national appeal. Like many things involving sports in America, one can judge the true interest in things by going to a bar. See how many of the TVs are showing the World Series, and see how many people are watching those TVs; better yet, note how many are really intently watching it, squirming on every pitch, holding their breath on every fly ball to the outfield.
Make it a point to do this on Saturday and Sunday. See how many TVs are devoted to Games 4 and 5 and how many are showing college football and the NFL. Compare the buildup to the Super Bowl or even the BCS National Championship to the World Series and baseball gets thrown out at home long before the runner even rounds third.
Yes, there’s more time to build those events, but people don’t throw parties and make special plans to watch the World Series anymore.
America’s pastime is now football, and baseball is becoming past its time.