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.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.