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The Series Just Doesn't Rate
2002-10-22 13:58
by Mike Carminati

The Series Just Doesn't Rate

This year's World Series on pace for the lowest T.V. ratings ever. The first two games are 16% behind last year's and that ended up being the third lowest series ever. The two ahead of it were the 2000 and 1998 Series.

Do you notice a trend? Four of the last five World Series are the lowest rated of all time. Could it have to do with the cancellation of the 1994 World Series due to a players' strike? Well, why are they all bunched in the last 5 years then? What happened in 1997? That was the year of the Florida Marlins, an exciting underdog-a 4-year-old expansion team-winning the World Series.

Well, how could that have done anything but raise interest? Well, maybe because a) they were the first wild card to win a Series and b) the 1998 rendition of the Marlins looked nothing like the World Champions of a year earlier, losing 108 games. Owner H. Wayne Huizenga was accused of buying a championship one year and then dumping salary the next.

Perhaps-and I have no more than circumstantial evidence here-baseball fans were alienated by the 1994 cancellation but still continued to watch the World Series. However, after the double whammy of the Marlins-a team that never won anything over the season winning the championship and the perception of their buying that title-was the last straw. That perception has continued with the Yankees' perceived purchased supremacy ever since.

Oh, and lest I forget, the advent of the most dreaded of baseball's transgressions according to the baseball purists, of which I am one, interleague play started in 1997. The intrigue created by Roger Clemens potentially facing Barry Bonds has been diluted by their regular-season meeting.

Finally, attendance was down considerably all season (over 5%) due to the labor talk. And games are to long due to exorbitantly long commercial breaks. All of these problems were created by baseball and they can be corrected by baseball if they choose to do so. Another year of poor ratings and maybe the will.

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