Don’t call it a “small-market” World Series matchup

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I’ve already seen a lot of grumbling from various media members on Twitter about how the Giants-Rangers matchup is going to be a ratings nightmare for FOX. That may turn out to be true, but it won’t be because the markets involved are small ones.

J.C. Bradbury of Sabernomics notes that Nielson ranks Dallas and San Francisco as the fifth- and sixth-largest television markets in the country, respectively.

For comparison, here’s the top 10:

1. New York
2. Los Angeles
3. Chicago
4. Philadelphia
5. Dallas
6. San Francisco
7. Boston
8. Atlanta
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Houston

No one would be predicting ratings nightmares for, say, a Phillies-Red Sox matchup, but based on market size that’s basically the same as Giants-Rangers. Instead, what the people worried about ratings are really saying is that the World Series matchup is devoid of East Coast teams and thus unlikely to attract significant interest from the No. 1 market, New York.

And that’s probably true, but the No. 5 and No. 6 markets are going to be glued to their television sets and my guess is that the No. 2 (Los Angeles) and No. 10 (Houston) markets will also be more likely to watch than usual. Plus, if you’re not a FOX television employee or Bud Selig should you really care about TV ratings?

Giants versus Rangers is an extremely compelling matchup featuring two of the elite pitchers in baseball, the potential MVP in the AL, and two franchises that are very hungry for a championship. You can be certain that hardcore baseball fans will be watching, and if some casual fans on the East Coast decide not to tune into the games … well, that’s their loss.

Zach Davies replaces Gio Gonzalez on the Brewers roster

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Major League Baseball just announced that it has approved a roster substitution for the Milwaukee Brewers due to the ankle injury sustained by Gio Gonzalez: right-handed pitcher Zach Davies will take his place. In accordance with league rules, Gonzalez will be ineligible to return if the Brewers make it to the World Series.

That rule is designed to prevent roster gamesmanship such as having a pitcher fake an injury after he’s done being used in an effort to give a team a fresh arm in a short series. A second layer on that is an independent consult with the league, which may approve or disapprove the request based on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. In this case, Dr. Gary Green, MLB’s Medical Director, confirmed Gonzalez’s injury after communicating with the Brewers’ evaluating physician. Not that anyone can really suggest that Gonzalez was faking. The dude’s ankle went sideways.

That being said, this is a benefit to the Brewers at least for the short term. Davies did not have a fantastic season, going 2-7 with a 4.77 ERA in 13 starts and failing to make the Brewers’ initial postseason roster, but he is fresh — he hasn’t pitched since September 28 — which could prove very useful for Craig Counsell and the Brewers after last night’s 13-inning game.