Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning the 2010 World Series. I am not writing this to tell the world (or at least my small number of readers) how great the Giants were this season. I am writing this as a concerned sports fan. Baseball’s television ratings have been on the decline for about 15 years now, and this year’s World Series continued this streak. The 2010 World Series received the lowest television ratings in World Series history. Game 4 received lower ratings than Sunday Night Football on NBC, and game 5, the clinching game for the Giants, was also overshadowed by Monday Night Football on ESPN. I have to admit that as big of a baseball fan that I am, I too was watching football over the World Series, but I caught pieces of it here and there. I have not lost interest in the sport, but I find it hard to watch two teams I care nothing about play a baseball game than two teams I care nothing about play a football game.
I would not doubt that part of the blame for the lower interest in baseball has to do with steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. The game has changed significantly since the downfall of the steroid era. This season was most definitely the year of the pitcher. Lower scoring games were more common than blowouts, and pitcher ERA’s were some of the lowest we have seen in years. There were four no-hitters thrown this season, two of which were perfect games, and one game that was one umpire mistake away from a perfect game as well. Depending on the type of fan, these games may be more interesting, or they may be less. With people’s attention spans getting shorter and shorter, low scoring games are going to make lesser fans want to change the channel quickly. Bigger baseball fans understand the excitement of a 1-0 game going into the 8th inning. I would be just as excited watching a pitcher’s dual as I would be watching a shootout. Fans who are only interested in one team, or who just are not that interested in the sport altogether, do not have the patience to watch a game without any scoring.
During the summer, I can watch any baseball game and be fully interested in it no matter who is playing or what the score is. Baseball is the only sport going on in the summer heat, so what else are American sports fans going to watch? Now the fall, when Americans are fully invested in football season, and with the NHL and NBA seasons getting started, there are many more games going on for sports fans to pay attention to. Football is definitely America’s sport now. The NHL and NBA saw a rise in their ratings over the last couple of years as well. In Football, every game of the season matters. I would not say that a regular season football game is more important than a World Series game, but the action of each game and the possible fantasy football implications each game may have cause sports fans to choose the faster paced game over the most important baseball games of the year. Had the New York Yankees been in the World Series this year, there would have been nothing stopping me from watching each and every pitch. This year’s World Series just happened to involve two teams that only matter to me when they are playing against the Yankees.
I will also blame my Yankee fanhood for some of my loss of interest in the MLB postseason. The Yankees have won 5 championships in my lifetime, which is much more than any of my other favorite teams. The Rangers have won 1…when I was 4 years old. The Knicks have only been in 1 championship in my lifetime and lost. The Jets…well we all know that story. Don’t get me wrong. Seeing the Yankees win a championship is still as amazing to me as it was in 1996, but seeing them win another is not on the top of my sports priority list. I was upset when they were knocked out of the playoffs, but I knew I had a great Jets team to look forward to watching the following Sunday afternoon, a rejuvenated and promising Knicks team to see a few nights a week, and a Rangers team that looks like it finally learned how to score goals. I feel that I am not the only one who is like this. Football is definitely the bigger sport right now, and basketball and hockey are on the rise again. Baseball just is not what it used to be.
It’s upsetting to me that I cannot get myself to watch some of the most important baseball games of the entire year. It’s even more upsetting to know that the rest of the country is doing the same thing. A sport that will forever be known as America’s greatest pastime is slowly losing the interest of many of its fans. The Tampa Bay Rays could not sell out the games leading up to them clinching a playoff spot. The fact that this could start happening around the league is pitiful. I, for one, hope to change my attitude about baseball by next season and start watching it as much as possible again. I hope the rest of America does the same. Again, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants and their fans for their World Series victory.