Long live the East Coast Bias

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The Super Bowl is over — no, I did not watch it, I watched the last three episodes of “Mad Men” on Netflix so I’m now caught up — so as far as I’m concerned it’s now baseball season. Indeed, this is the last full week in which there is no real baseball activity, as pitchers and catchers report next week. Ahh.

But I do wish to link one article that is mostly about football because it has some relevance for us as well. It’s about why the Patriots and Giants dominated the airwaves these past couple of weeks. And, as anyone who has read my thoughts on the matter knows, it’s understandable even if annoying. Here’s ESPN Senior Vice Presidenct Mark Gross:

I know some people may say there’s a Northeast or an East Coast bias, but you can’t argue with the ratings and the interest in those games versus the other games.” According to [ESPN’s] own research, four of the nation’s top 15 favorite pro sports are from either New York or Boston. While teams such as the Yankees, Patriots, Red Sox and Giants appeal to fans in their home markets, their reach extends far beyond the back yard. More than 52 percent of Giants fans live outside of New York, according to ESPN Sports Poll data, and 57 percent of Pats fans reside outside of Boston.

And I’m sure it applies to the Yankees and Red Sox too.  Which explains why we get so much more of them in national broadcasts than anyone else. As John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal says, east coast bias is a real thing, but “[t]elevision’s decision-makers don’t favor particular teams; they favor money.”

And if you were in their shoes you’d do the same thing. At least as long as you favored employment over unemployment.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.