Comment of the Day: II Super Bowl Ratings Edition

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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.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).