With the news that last night’s boring regular-season blowout of the Titans over the Jaguars outdrew the Rangers-Yankees ALCS game in TV ratings, I think the time has come to acknowledge that football is the national pastime of America, and that the MLB is dying.
7.2 percent of TV sets tuned in to the Titans-Jaguars game, while only 6.5 watched game three of the ALCS. For those of you who don’t follow football, there’s nothing particularly compelling about the Titans vs. the Jaguars. The Rangers-Yankees game, on the other hand, featured probably the best pitcher in the game, Cliff Lee, matching up against a crafty veteran, Andy Pettite, in a pivotal game in a series that will determine who plays in the World Series. Of course, Lee pitched a gem, striking out 13 Yankees and allowing only two hits in eight innings. Needless to say, the Yankees play in the biggest viewership market.
Make no mistake: this is a pathetic showing by baseball, and signals the overall decline of the league. Under Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner, the MLB has gone from national pastime to an afterthought when Monday Night Football is on.
Among the many reasons fans are losing interest in baseball, I think the length of the games is the most important. A recent Bill Simmons column summed up the problem nicely; I recommend the whole thing. Here’s one excerpt, on Selig’s leadership:
I have a job (no, really, they pay me for this), I have a wife, I have kids, I have a bunch of things I like to watch at night. Slogging through a 3-hour, 45-minute anything just isn’t entertaining. We have too many choices in 2010. That, over anything else, is why those NESN ratings dropped in 2010.
The big question? Will Bud Selig do something about it?
He’s the same guy who apparently enjoys this big-market/small-market dichotomy. He’s the same guy who looked the other way as his players were growing 26-inch biceps and second jaws. He’s the same guy who doesn’t seem to care that every World Series game ends past the bedtimes of his future paying customers, or that his fans are paying triple figures for all-you-can-watch baseball packages that somehow get blacked out on Saturday afternoons, or that baseball is the only professional sport that doesn’t allow YouTube clips (because God forbid people would want to celebrate the game). So I’m dubious.