Commenter Megary agrees that the baseball/football TV ratings comparison is an apples-oranges thing. But that doesn’t mean one can’t prefer apples:
If the World Series was one must-win game, held 2 weeks after the last league championship playoff game, with a guarantee of seeing the best pitcher from both teams, with a media day, picture day, autograph day, family day, and with the Rolling Stones playing a pseudo concert during the 7th Inning Stretch, then yes, the World Series would have ratings comparable to the super bowl.
But thank God baseball doesn’t denigrate itself to that end.
Also to that end, a non-baseball must read for the day is Sally Jenkins takedown of the bloat and spectacle that Super Bowl and, to some extent all of the NFL, has become.
And before you say anything, this is not one of my patented NFL hit-pieces. Jenkins is an admitted NFL fan and backer and truly wants it to be the best it can be. Roger Goodell will never have my heart, but he once had the heart of people like Sally Jenkins, and he and his fellow owners are slowly but surely losing their hold.
And for the record: if baseball had a longer and more predictable runup to its championship — and if its championship were held in neutral location that was selected years in advance — I have total faith that baseball would debase itself in a similar fashion. No, baseball probably couldn’t get its act together to ruin its biggest stage quite as effectively as the NFL has, but they would give it a good sporting try.
The difference here between baseball and football is not one of moral superiority of the former over the latter. It’s merely one of opportunity.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.