Major League Baseball has had ratings problems in recent years and that has continued during the World Series. The website Sports Media Watch writes that Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night got the third-worst overnight ratings ever, ahead of last year’s Game 2 between the Giants and Tigers, as well as the Phillies and Rays in 2008.
They add that Games 1 and 2 between the Cardinals and Red Sox thus far earned a single-digit overnight for the second time in history, joining Games 1 and 2 between the Tigers and Giants in 2012.
There are a lot of reasons why the World Series is struggling and it’s not a problem that can realistically be addressed in one fell swoop. Some of it has to do with the scarcity of baseball games, some of it has to do with the pace, some with the culture surrounding the game, and that’s just the start. It seems like an issue that will need to be addressed by whoever takes over as commissioner of Major League Baseball once Bud Selig retires following the 2014 season.
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.