Before we start Game 4 of the WS:
Here are the seedings of this year’s MLB playoffs.
#1 Seed – Atlanta – 104
#2 Seed – Dodgers – 100
#3 Seed – Milwaukee – 92
#4 Seed – Philadelphia – 90
#5 Seed – Miami – 84
#6 Seed – Arizona – 84
#1 Seed – Baltimore – 101
#2 Seed – Houston – 90
#3 Seed – Minnesota – 87
#4 Seed – Tampa Bay – 99
#5 Seed – Texas – 90
#6 Seed – Toronto – 89
There were only 8 teams with 90 or more wins to make the playoffs. That leaves 4 teams with less than 90 wins. The WS has a #5 seed (Texas) facing a #6 seed Arizona. As I predicted (and a lot of others) very few are turning to watch the WS. Game 1 drew an audience of just 9.17 million viewers. That is the worst year ever. The previous low? Game 2 of the 2020 series played in the bubble drew 9.184 million viewers.
Neither participant had the type of year that would excite potential viewers. While I do like many of the players, there is no Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuña Jr., Julio Rodriguez, or Mike Trout. Of the top 20 jersey sales, only Corey Seager (#14) was in the top 20 from either team in the WS. So who is going to get viewers to watch?
Neither WS teams draw in their own stadiums. Texas was #16 in attendance with 2.53 million, while Arizona was #20 with 1.96 million. When the Dodgers played in Arizona, at least half the stadium was filled with LAD fans.
So is it really that surprising that nobody is watching this series? Joe Davis is doing his best to generate player interest by trying to make Corbin Carroll a household name. I think Carroll will eventually get there, but he is not there yet.
So MLB is putting on their show with two of the least known teams in MLB and Rob Manfred thinks it is an overwhelming success. I am sure the network sponsors do not agree.
I know the MLBPA does not agree. They never wanted to expand the playoffs in the first place. Owners see that they can get into the playoffs by playing just over .500 baseball. Two teams had 84-78 records, and one of them is in the WS. So what will be the owners’ impetus to have a huge payroll, if it is not needed? This was the MLBPA’s big concern. My eyes will be on Baltimore. They need top pitching and they have the ability to acquire it. Via trade or FA. Will they spend or are they okay with 101 wins and a playoff appearance?
If the Dodgers believed they could fill the stadium with only a 90 win team and still make the playoffs, what is their incentive to sign big $$$ free agents. We already have Stan (winning the Division is all I care about) Kasten saying attendance dictates that the LAD fans are fine with winning during the season and crapping out in the playoffs.
After all, the playoffs are only a crapshoot, or so we are told. 1 in 6 odds? That is like saying in a twelve horse race, the odds should be 1in12 for all 12 horses. The last two years, the odds have been stacked against the top two teams in each League. Two out of eight bye teams reached the LCS (Houston both years), and then one in four made the WS (Houston in 2022).
Change the Wild Card games to one game, and have them play on Tuesday after the season. Make the Wild Card winners face the bye teams on Wednesday. Best of 5 with no days off in the Divisional Series. Then the odds of the best teams during the regular season are in a much better position to reach the LCS. Only two days off before the LDS and the Wild Card team only has one game and no day off after the win. This would also give teams incentive to bring on stars, making it much less of a crapshoot.
This will never happen as TV will never allow it. TV could care less whether the regular season should count for something. More games and more days off to spread those games out. But MLB competition committee sure should.
So why spend $600MM on a DH and a questionable elbow? No incentive for LAD, especially when the team has the largest attendance and by a large margin. LAD 550K over the #2 attendance, SDP.
Most avid LAD fans are split. Some are fine with the Dodgers always being competitive and making the playoffs every year, while others believe that success is determined by only winning the WS. Most non-LAD fans believe the 2020 WS did not count, and that they have not won a WS in a full season since 1988, now reaching 45 years. Many LAD fans also fall into that category. As the years move on, that belief will only become more prominent.
Andrew Heaney vs Joe Mantiply as the starting pitchers in Game 4. Two bullpen games in the WS? How will this drive viewership? How will this drive interest from the young fans that will be needed for the future viewership.
Game 4 on Halloween night? Remember when the WS did not have to compete against Halloween as the WS was over before the end of October? TV and TV revenue is dictating how the playoff schedule should play out. The smaller market team owners have no problem, as their biggest revenue source by far is TV revenue. Winning is secondary to revenues, and revenues that will not be spent on player personnel.
Again, Rob Manfred considers this a success. I am a baseball fan, and I will watch the WS regardless as to who is playing. I love watching future stars on the big stage…Evan Carter, Corbin Carroll, Josh Jung, Gabriel Moreno, Geraldo Perdomo, Brandon Pfaadt.
Elsewhere I came across this gem from Jerry Hairston Jr. on Mookie and the playoffs:
“I think maybe he was a little tired,” Hairston Jr. said. “We know he bulked up last offseason, gained about 8-10 pounds of muscle so he could be stronger in the second half and he had an incredible August. He got so hot, not only was he so hot, he was always on base. And when you’re always on base, always scoring runs plus you’re asked to play right field, shortstop, second base, you’re constantly moving, it can be draining and taxing – not just mentally, but also physically. I want to say maybe he was a little gassed. … We may need to look at that going forward, maybe giving him some rest in September to make sure he’s completely fresh because he uses his entire body to generate so much force in that swing.”
This goes into the ever growing column of why can’t players play hard for 162 games with more days off than ever? Why is there so much platooning? Why can’t pitchers throw 200 innings anymore? And the owners want expansion to dilute the talent base even more? Of course they do because the expansion fee will be extensive for the owners.
Finally, there is this encounter between Mookie and Corey.
Mookie Betts & Corey Seager share an exchange after Game 3 of the World Series‼️
Old Dodgers teammates reunited💙
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) October 31, 2023