Christine Brennan of USA Today is blowing the lid off of this baby. And it’s somewhat surprising to her:
If I had had to guess, I would have said the TV ratings in Milwaukee for the two games would have been about equal, considering the Packers were early in their season, while the Brewers were in a crucial, best-of-five postseason series …
See, that would be a really silly guess. Why? Because Brennan herself, just last year, wrote basically the same column, noting how an awful early-season Jags-Titans Game outdrew, yes, a “crucial” playoff game between the Yankees and Rangers. News flash: people like football and people in Wisconsin really like the Packers.
Last year she attributed it all to baseball not having instant replay. This year’s it’s because Division Series games start at funky times and are on more obscure cable networks. It’s always something.
(thanks to Scott for the heads up)
Never, however, does she seem to note — as we and others have noted countless times — that comparing these ratings mean very little. It’s a given that the NFL is more popular overall (and that the Packers may have a more loyal following than any team in the league). It’s a given that baseball’s nature and structure are such that it simply doesn’t and will never draw the kind of national ratings that football will.
Brennan ignores this, crediting the NFL for its “intelligent marketing” instead of simply having a game which appeals to more people and adding a dubious “we’ll have to take his word for it” after Commissioner Selig tries to explain how baseball’s nature is simply different from that of football and that last Wednesday night’s game-162 excitement was fantastic.
Dissonance must scare her. It must simply not compute that some people like one thing, some like another, some like both and that such differences are not attributable to small decisions like instant replay or a start time. That it just is and — barring the change in national mood and tastes like we saw over decades that led the NFL to surpass baseball as the country’s favorite sport — it will always be thus.
On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.
Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:
“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”
“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”
“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”
Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.
Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.
Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.
Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.