For the one thousandth time: NFL and MLB TV ratings are apples and oranges

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Dejan Kovacevic writes this morning:

One argument often heard in Major League Baseball circles is that the best way to get great TV ratings for the World Series is to have two very large markets in the equation.

Oh, really?

The Steelers-Packers Super Bowl, comprised of two markets that are among the smallest in professional sports, drew the largest TV audience for any program in the history of our society, Fox announced yesterday.

He goes on to attribute this television popularity to the fact that the NFL is “fair” and Major League Baseball is not due to its financial structure. He says that unlike in baseball, market size — and Pittsburgh and Green Bay are tiny markets — don’t enter into it at all.

Without even passing on the fairness of baseball’s financial system — I realize it’s flawed; that’s another discussion — why do we continue to see NFL ratings and Major League Baseball ratings compared like this?  Yes, the NFL is more popular, full stop. I don’t dispute that. But the degree of its greater popularity should not be inferred from its television ratings.

The vast, vast majority of baseball games are consumed on a local level. Fans watch their own teams’ games and rarely watch others. Why? Because their team is on TV every day. The couple of national broadcasts a week aren’t at all significant in comparison.

Football, in contrast, is a nationally-televised sport. As in, every NFL football game is carried by a national broadcaster. Yes, there is “regional coverage,” but without looking I bet you that the majority of the nation had access to either a Packers or a Steelers game every week this past season.  Cowboys and Patriots too. The marquee teams are defacto national teams with national fan bases in the habit of watching them on national broadcasts.

That is what leads to gigantic national television ratings for football games. That and a host of other factors such as scarcity of actual games, weather and attractiveness of the sport on a flat screen that naturally makes football a better TV sport than baseball is.  I seriously doubt that the underlying economics of the game enter into your average fan’s decision to tune in the Super Bowl vs., say, the World Series.

Cardinals’ bullpen loses combined no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning

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Update (10:04 PM EST): Orlando Arcia reached on a fielding error by DeJong. Gallegos bounced back, inducing weak fly outs from Ryan Braun and Trent Grisham. Yasmani Grandal ended the dream, yanking a double down the right field line.

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Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson flirted a no-hitter, but was unable to make it through the seventh inning. The right-hander kept the Brewers hitless through 6 2/3 innings on Monday evening at Busch Stadium, striking out six and walking four on 111 pitches. Hudson’s career-high was 112 pitches, so it was not surprising to see manager Mike Shildt take Hudson out of the game after a two-out walk to Eric Thames. Giovanny Gallegos entered the game and got Ben Gamel to ground out to end the inning.

Hudson, 24, entered the night 11-6 with a 3.82 ERA and a 97/59 K/BB ratio in 127 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals provided Hudson three runs of support. Kolten Wong knocked in a run with a ground out in the fifth inning and Dexter Fowler added an RBI single later in the frame. Paul DeJong crushed a solo homer to left field in the sixth to make it 3-0.

The last Cardinals no-hitter was thrown by Bud Smith on September 3, 2001 against the Padres. The Brewers were last no-hit on June 12, 2007 by Justin Verlander, then with the Tigers. If the Cardinals were to complete the no-hitter, it would be the fourth of the 2019 season and the third combined no-hitter.

We will update this thread as the Cardinals’ bullpen attempts to keep the Brewers hitless through the final two innings.