Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal thinks he’s throwing bombs when he compares baseball television ratings to football ratings:
Baseball likes to think of itself – indeed, likes to bill itself — as the “National Pastime.” But that time is long gone, a distant memory . . . But, give your average sports fan a choice between watching baseball and watching football and, well, it’s as predictable as asking your average, 18-to-35-year-old, prime-demographic, prime-time sports-watching male whether he’d prefer a night out with Ugly Betty, or with Jessica Simpson.
Setting aside the fact that Jessica Simpson isn’t on any right-thinking 18-to-35 year-old’s top ten list anymore, Donaldson is right. As he notes, the ratings for the end of the Packers-Vikings game this past weekend were higher than any World Series game in even this highly-rated Series. And yes, the Hall of Fame Game got more viewers than did a Red Sox-Yankees game in August.
But who cares? The notion that football has surpassed baseball as the most popular sport in America is at least a decade old. Maybe older. Football draws better ratings because it’s, in essence, an exclusively nationally-televised sport whereas the vast majority of baseball viewership takes place via regional sports networks. And there are 10 times the number of baseball games as there are football games, so catching any one baseball game is nowhere near as important to the average fan of catching one must-see football game. They’re different beasts, and I would be shocked if baseball ever outdraws football in the television ratings again.
And I’m totally fine with that. Because Donaldson’s apparent point — that football trumps baseball as the National Pasttime because of the ratings — is an empty one. Have you seen what else leads the television ratings? Or the box office? Or the album charts? I’m not even going to mention beer sales in all of this.
Popularity only measures what’s popular. It’s almost always completely divorced from what’s good. Pro Football can be the National Pasttime. I prefer to enjoy a more exclusive, higher quality product, thank you.
Former Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
It’s the fourth move the corner infielder has made in the last two seasons after seeing short-term stints with the Marlins, Giants and Tigers. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers prior to the 2016 season, providing the club with some infield depth behind 24-year-old Nick Castellanos. When Castellanos hit the disabled list in August with a broken hand, McGehee was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a 30-game stint and slashed .228/.260/.239 with one extra-base hit in 96 PA. His career batting line (.258/.317/.384 over eight seasons) isn’t too shabby, but his age and a long history of knee injuries puts a damper on his potential.
McGehee last appeared in the NPB circuit in 2013, when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He spent the bulk of his season at the hot corner, batting an impressive .292/.396/.515 with 28 homers in 590 PA and appearing in the Eagles’ first and only championship run to date.
The deal comes with a club option for 2018, Rosenthal reports, though no figure has been specified.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.