The year's Series a perfect storm for high ratings, high drama

Leave a comment

We’ll see the Game 2 ratings later today, but the ratings for Game 1 are in, and they’re very, very high:

Game 1 was the second-highest-rated MLB postseason game since 1999. It was seen by 19.5 million viewers, which marked a 33 percent increase over last year’s Game 1. That increase also marked the second-biggest year-to-year increase in World Series Game 1 viewership since data was first collected in 1968, trailing just 1976-77 (56 percent increase).

The Yankees and Phillies are both from gigantic media markets, so it’s not surprising that the ratings are high.  Throw in the marquee Sabathia vs. Lee matchup, and it’s even less surprising.

But last night’s Game may very well have set the stage for even better ratings — and if not ratings, certainly high-level excitement — down the road.  The Yankees win keeps it close.  Pedro Martinez’s lion-in-winter performance, even in a losing effort, was inspiring.  The fact that we’re now four for four in strong starting pitching performances is another key factor: chicks may dig the longball, but pitching duels keep people riveted to the TV come October.

One game in was too soon to crown the Phillies champs, and two games in may be too soon to call this Classic a classic.  But after two sharp games, it certainly feels like we’re heading in that direction.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.