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.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.