Folks are going to complain about the World Series ratings as soon as they start trickling in. They’re really going to complain when the Rams-Cowboys game on Sunday doubles the ratings of the Cardinals-Rangers game just around the corner later that evening. We know that by now.
But as Variety’s (and Dodgers Thoughts’) Jon Weisman reports, Fox is quite pleased, thank you very much, with the state of the ratings and their investment.
Ads sold out earlier than ever, Fox Sports’ vice-chairman Ed Goren said. And the ratings, while certainly not what they used to be, aren’t bad when you compare baseball to itself and other programming in this increasingly fragmented media landscape as opposed to simply comparing it to the ratings behemoth that is the NFL:
“First off, the World Series last year, we won primetime for the week. Even last year’s World Series … in 1971, there was a Pirates-Orioles World Series, and it was the eighth highest-rated show of the year. Last year’s World Series was the eighth-highest rated show of the year also. In this 500-channel universe, the numbers that the World Series pulls in viewership are substantial year after year. Some years are better than others — the more games you get, the better you’ll be — but it is still a major, major ratings attraction.”
Baseball TV rights will be up for bidding again after the 2012 season. I’m guessing Fox, and other outlets, will be involved in the bidding. All of these are companies, it should be noted, that aren’t in the business of burning cash for the hell of it.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.