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.