<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

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World Series Reset: On to AT&T Park


The Game: World Series Game 3. Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants tied 1-1
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
The Channel: Fox
The Starters: Jeremy Guthrie vs. Tim Hudson
The Upshot: We have ourselves a series at least. And a new setting, as we move to AT&T Park. While both it and Kauffman Stadium are, more or less, pitchers parks, the new joint certainly changes things for the Royals. For one, they lose DH Billy Butler, who has been hot of late. They also could — and probably should — lose Nori Aoki in right field. As we saw in the NLDS, the winds they whip in right field and that big brick wall makes things tough out there. Aoki has been a bit of an adventure in right field as it is, so look for Ned Yost to bench him, insert Jarrod Dyson in center and move Lorenzo Cain to right. As for the pitching, Hudson has had two postseason starts this year, including a not-so-great one at home against the Cardinals. Guthrie has gone once, and pitched well against the Orioles.

The World Series ratings are low. So what?

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The ratings for Game 1 and Game 2 of the World Series are out. And it’s not shocking that they’re low. Game 1 was close to the lowest-rated World Series game of all time (maybe it was the lowest). Game 2 was a bit higher, but still pretty low compared to the past. Fox and Major League Baseball, however, are noting in press releases that the games each won the night in prime time, broke all kinds of (carefully crafted, very recent and wholly relative) ratings records and had excellent ratings in the local markets of the two teams.

It’s a now-familiar story, which we’ve talked about here at length. For my extended take on what modern low World Series ratings mean, go read my big essay about the State of Baseball and scroll down to the section entitled “It Doesn’t Matter That Baseball’s National Television Ratings Kinda Stink.” The short version: everything, with the exception of football, gets much lower ratings than it used to because of fragmentation of entertainment in general. This, combined with baseball’s increasing emphasis on local ratings, local deals and its increasing efforts to push the product to cable and the Internet, exacerbate the effect with the National Pastime.

But what I’m more interested in than the ratings themselves is the reaction to them by many fans and sports commentators. The declaration that baseball is now a “niche sport” or the mere recitation of these ratings as if they prove something in and of themselves, with that thing being damning for the game indeed.

The question I have for these people is this: “so what?”

For your own purposes, you either care about baseball or you don’t. If you do, it should hardly matter to you what the TV ratings are. One of my favorite movies of all time is “Zero Effect” and it bombed at the box office. So did “The Shawshank Redemption” for that matter. I don’t enjoy them any less simply because not too many people went and saw them.

For broader purposes, though, what does it matter? Baseball is not some national consensus any longer, I’ll grant that. It’s not widely popular. So what? What, aside from the fact that it used to be widely popular, does it matter that it is not now?

Some may make arguments that its relatively lower popularity imperils its future. I’d take issue with that — baseball is a way more lucrative business now as a so-called “niche sport” than it ever was as The National Pastime — but I feel like most people who complain that baseball’s alleged decreasing appeal is a bad thing because . . . it just is. That just as they don’t make players like Stan Musial anymore, there is something wrong with this new era. We can’t put our finger on it and, by gum, we’ll ignore all of the other factors at play, including the many, many factors which point to baseball’s vitality, but we just know, in our bones, that something is wrong.

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of the playoffs. Most of you guys have too. Other people are enjoying the things they like, be it football, reality shows, Minecraft or watching the dang paint dry. As long as these low ratings aren’t hurting baseball’s ability to continue as a going concern (they decidedly are not) and as long as the networks which pay baseball to air the games are pleased (they clearly remain so) why should anyone give a crap?

Pat Gillick admits that the Phillies won’t contend in 2015 or 2016

Pat Gillick

For years the Phillies have claimed that they’re winning now and, dadgummit, if things go just right, they can compete with the Jimmy Rollins/Chase Utley/Ryan Howard core. Team CEO Pat Gillick is not willing to whistle that tune. In fact, he’s pretty darn honest, saying that the Phillies are in rebuild mode, not reload mode:

“I think where we are right now, it’s probably a couple years,” Gillick told CSN’s John Clark in a 1-on-1 interview Thursday. “I wouldn’t think [2015] or [2016,] ’15 or ’16 I don’t think is in the cards. I think somewhere around 2017 or 2018.”

Check out his comments here, in his interview with CSNPhilly.com:

The Mets are interested in Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer Getty

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Mets have “concrete” interest in outfielder Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer will be a free agent a few days after the World Series wraps up. His 2014 was basically a lost season due to injuries, but he finished the year strong after finally getting healthy. Overall he hit .332/.376/.579 in 49 games. The year before he won the NL batting title.

Still, Cuddyer will turn 36 years-old before the regular season starts and Coors Field has benefited him. He’s certainly worth a short term deal, but if anyone can tell you that they know what they’ll get from him in 2015, let alone that they’re certain it’ll be really good, they’re probably full of it.

The Brewers hire Darnell Coles as their hitting instructor

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The Brewers fired Johnny Narron as their hitting coach a couple of weeks ago. Now they have a replacement: Darnell Coles.

Coles has been in the Brewers organization in the past, having managed their Huntsville team in 2012 and 2013. He was slated to move up to the Triple-A team in Nashville, but the Tigers offered him an assistant hitting coach position at the major league level. There were obviously no hard feelings from the Brewers — maybe they acknowledged that a big league coach’s gig is better than a minor league manager’s gig from a hotel and per diem perspective — so now he’s got their job.

The Brewers offense fell off a cliff at the end of 2014, taking with it their playoff hopes. Now Coles’ job is to bring a bit more consistency to the mix.