The San Francisco Giants have not won a World Series in over 55 years. Their counterparts, the Texas Rangers, have never won period.
Nonetheless, both of these squads have proven themselves worthy of dancing in the Fall Classic. Texas found their way in a six-game upset (if you can call it that) of the powerhouse Yankees, while San Franasco (thank you Tommy Wiseau) marched into Philadelphia and conquered the Phillies.
Great, is it not?
Yet as Giants closer Brian Wilson caught slugger Carlos Beltran (err, Ryan Howard) looking on strike three to end the NLCS, baseball commissioner Bud Selig shared the same look of shock. It was at this moment he realized, the 2010 World Series (just one year after a thrilling New York/Philadelphia stand), would be split between San Francisco and Arlington.
I’ll say that again. San Francisco and Arlington.
It is no secret to people any longer. The game of baseball is dying in the public eye. Even as a lockout looms ahead, the NFL draws huge on weekends. College football is carried on virtually every channel. Ball fields are being torn up and replaced by million-dollar dog parks.
In 2005, Major League Baseball experienced their first major drop-off in World Series ratings. For the first time since total viewer stats were released in 2001, the classic failed to reach 20 million viewers for at least one game of the series. Not even Chicago, a market who had the White Sox searching for their first World Series since 1917, could generate a substantial number of spectators. Since then, only two World Series games have reached that plateau, both of which were series clinchers (’07 and ’09).
Feel like adding insult to injury? Throw in Game 3 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies in Rays, which failed to eclipse 10 million viewers. That’s right: people were more interested in spending $10 at a movie theater on a Saturday night than watching a World Series game for free.
Now, we fast-forward to 2010. The Giants will obtain home-field advantage after the National League won the All-Star Game (ironically in the home of the last team San Francisco faced in the World Series), meaning a 4:30 PM local time start for just about every game of the series. With only two of the games taking place on a weekend, that means that a majority of west coasters will likely be in their office for the first pitch. Unless you work for Michael Scott, things don’t look too good for you.
Then, the Arlington argument comes into play. I mentioned earlier that the 2005 World Series brought in dismal ratings. The Houston Astros, a Texas product, were the National League representative. If a city of 2.3 million could not spur some steam, how are we to expect Arlington to do so?
So Mr. Selig, things may not look so great for you. Because of two pesky teams spurring on with a “no quit” attitude, you miss out on a repeat of a fairly marketable rematch.
However, perhaps this is not exactly a bad thing. While the 2010 World Series may be a ratings-bruiser, the battle of the Rangers and Giants could also restore credibility to a game which could use a boost in that particular field.
The Texas Rangers are the epitome of front office perfection. With new ownership at the helm (not to mention the greatest pitcher of all-time at the helm of the helm), Texas soared past the AL West-laggers, at one point controlling the best record in baseball. They brought in an aging slugger to be their designated hitter, a retiring catcher to call games, a pissed-off outfielder to gun out runners, and a southpaw who has established himself to be one of the best clutch-performers of all-time. Throw in an MVP superstar and a manager looking for redemption, and that proves to be a pretty effective formula.
As for the Giants, they are the captains of charisma. Having accomplished a remarkable comeback to capture the NL West, their youth and heart has driven them to greatness. They traded a retiring catcher (quite possibly the same one mentioned above) to bring in a rookie star. Their manager, a World Series-alumnus himself, worked through a blown $126 million investment and a torn pitching staff to reach the pinnacle of the baseball world. Also, be sure not to forget an NLCS MVP who was claimed on waivers a few months back.
While the 2010 World Series may not prove to be the most efficient for the sport of baseball, this type of story has been in the making for a long, long time. Both squads have upset the odds, and are incredibly hungry for a taste of champagne (or even ginger ale). It may be true the series may not be watched by many, but for those who do, it will undoubtedly be enjoyable.
Oh, perhaps I forgot to mention something. The last time the Giants were in the Fall Classic was also the last time a World Series game eclipsed 30 million views.
In the words of Wilson, this championship match-up may be quite “delicious” for the real fans of baseball.