News flash: a mediocre team with an often-anonymous lineup comprised of fill-ins for injured stars is not a box office draw:
Through 41 home games this season, the Yankees have drawn nearly 106,000 fewer fans than at this point a year ago, a 6.1 percent drop that is almost twice as large as the overall decline in baseball … Even more sobering for the team: the television ratings for their games have plummeted.
Everyone talks about the New York market giving the Yankees a license to print money. And yes, there are built-in advantages for the Yankees. But it’s not some blank check we’re talking about here. The Yankees draw and rate and rake in cash in large part because they have been an outstanding baseball team for 20 years or so and, with a couple of blips in mid-60s to mid-70s and again in the late 80s to early 90s have been an outstanding baseball team for close to a century.
This year: less so. Declines in TV ratings and attendance should shock no one.
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.