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.