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Did you know that the NFL is more popular than baseball? It’s true!

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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.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.