I know we're supposed to say hey, wasn't that a terrific World Series, it went down to the wire, the last out of the seventh game, and both teams were valiant, the storybook Royals and the never-say-die Jints that once inhabited Coogan's Bluff.
But it doesn't smell as sweet if you're a TV exec and you notice that the WS ratings were lower than even a meaningless November college football game or an exhibition match between ice hockey squads.
Well, the exec gets no special affection from me, as he or she is part of the problem, but the average fan, the one who grew up loving the game, watching Reese take grounders at short and Mantle roam the fields of center, has taken it on the chin and lost interest. Let's face it. Unless you live in the city by the bay or in the show-me state, it was a mediocre World Series and you stopped watching except for maybe an inning here or there when your mate wasn't watching "The Good Wife," "The Affair," "Homeland," or "Web Therapy."
Why? Because the noise in the stadium is overbearing, the ticket prices are too high, the distractions too numerous, and the TV commentators too prone to state the obvious, to pussy foot around the truth or polly toe the evidence. Example: the batter is hit with the pitch and the broadcasters say "clearly" there was no intent to hit him. Sure, Charlie. And -- and --
Because the games take longer than ever. The use of instant replay to double-guess a close call may save an umpire from making an ass of himself, but each use of this feature delays a game that has already lengthened like the left-field shadows in old Yankee Stadium because of visits to the mound, frequent pitching changes, and the like. Because they keep messing with the game. And If they can introduce a designated hitter they can decide that a foul ball hit with two strikes on you is a strikeout. And -- and --
Because they have created a nutty playoff structure that allows for two "wild card" teams per league. The so-called postseason, which makes the regular season almost as irrelevant as spring training box scores, takes a month and features three sets of games or series before getting to the WS.
One consequence is we get a World Series between two ball clubs that should not have been there -- two call clubs that won nothing, not what we used to call "the pennant, " not even their own division.
It was once the winner of the American League pennant versus the winner of the National League pennant. You won the pennant if you won the most games. Now each league is divided in three with two extra teams tossed in the mix. Theoretically this is supposed to keep interest up in ten teams. But theory gives way to inevitability, which is the devalung of the World Series.
I will end this screed by suggesting that the Washington Nationals honor the past by reviving the name Washington Senators -- even if the current Washington team originated somewhere else entirely and the old Senators packed up for Minnesota fifty years ago. The hapless Washington Senators, about whom a great musical comedy was written ("Damn Yankees"). The old Washington: first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League. -- DL