Cardinals’ World Series title caps off magical month of baseball

I sit here on 29 October, the morning after the Saint Louis Cardinals captured their 11th World Championship, not tired, but sad. Bittersweet to be precise.

I’m sad because the baseball season over, and with it, the beauty of summer and fall slowly disappear
as well. I’m also melancholy because I love baseball. It’s my favorite sport,  and in my view, by far the best sport on earth, as I’ve argued ad nausea for years on this site  and others.

Let me iterate that the 2011 postseason confirmed my views of baseball’s superiority to the other
major sports even more so.

Consider that Major League Baseball attendance rose during a recession, brought in more revenue than ever, and put out some of the highest-quality play in the game’s history during the past 30 days.

Sadly though, the national media can somehow ignore everything and obsessively focus on “TV ratings.” ESPN’s Colin Cowherd — who mocks the AGE of baseball fans, of all things —  is by far the worst offender, but even local Omaha radio was guilty yesterday.

An hour before Game 7 as I drove back from Chicago, the host said, “Well, baseball should finally get the nation’s attention tonight. Hope they don’t stink it up.”

I can’t enumerate how lazy, dishonest, yet expected this type of remark is, other than to say football,  especially the Cornhusker State’s beloved college ball, regularly sees blow outs or duds in “big games” that were hyped up enormously.  Yet no one mocks football before or condescends afterwards, whereas the hypocrisy of baseball bashers is legendary.

St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 ChampsAnd whether or not the east coast and sports media (one in the same, really) unfairly covered the World Series is immaterial. Ratings were high overall (beat primetime NFL games twice; Game 7 was seen by more homes in DFW than any Cowboys Super Bowl), and we had a proud, historic franchise with baseball’s best fans take the title over a likable team now owning improbable back to back AL pennants, representing America’s most patriotic state.

It was awesome theatre, and neither of my favorite teams was close to postseason play. Does not matter. It’s baseball. And nothing in sports beats October  baseball.  One month before the final pitch from Jason  Motte, all the thrills started on a historically consequential  night.

And, as even Jeff  Passan, noted Yahoo curmudgeon opined,who cares about ratings?

“Baseball needs to stop apologizing for its poor TV ratings. They are the furthest thing from a
smudge on the game and where it has moved in today’s sporting  world.”

ESPN Radio’s banal Mike and Mike, who audaciously talked April NFL  Draft the morning of Game 6 of World Series and Eagles football the morning of Game 7, might care about viewing numbers — but most do not. Mature people, “old” people, know what the best game is. I suppose, being over 30, I’m old now too; but on the other hand, everyone under 30 I know loved every pitch the past four weeks.

Why?

The product for the last month was simply marvelous. And again, this began on Sept. 28, a night that was arguably the single greatest in the sport’s regular season history.

As for those errors that baseball critics, and fans of long-gone teams (Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox in particular) will allude to, Tim McCarver aptly noted yesterday on radio that baseball’s “imperfections”  make it the perfect sport. So true.

As Jerod Morris and I recapped on the eve of the World Series, in round one we had 19 of a possible 20
games, with two teams winning Game 5 on the road versus the two “best” teams — in the biased media’s eyes. Like 2010, the two teams (Yankees/Phillies) that spent the most money were therefore the putative favorites, but the beauty of baseball is there are NO favorites.

Baseball is truly the antithesis of college football where, yes, the two “best” teams arguably meet for the title, but that sport is a farce because teams’ seasons are rendered meaningless if not ranked by pundits in the top 10 in August, or when they lose their first game. Computers decide their fate.

The LCS in both leagues went six, and though some say it was sloppy or “too high scoring” (same critics who get bored in low scoring games) on the NL side, both were awesome. These were the best playoffs since 2003 or 2004, and in the long view, considering the 2011 Fall Classic went the distance, likely better.

The National League title bout had division rivals who despise each other, and the Texas-Detroit series, in hindsight, was actually one of the best and most competitive in years. Somehow this was also ignored by critics, just as baseball being the only affordable and safe professional sport a regular family can still afford, also is. Attendance won’t plummet anytime soon, Mr. Cowherd.

I’ll close by echoing where Passan culminated, but in my own words:

Give me a five month moratorium on the elite media’s cacophony about Major League baseball’s “declining television ratings.” Following the most compelling World Series in a decade, the overriding theme was that nobody watched?

Quoting Passan directly: “And to those people, all I have to say is: Sorry, suckers. You’re missing something great.”

38 of a possible 41 games, three one run game 5s in a 24-hour period to close round one, walk off wins,
unknown heroes, three one-run World Series tilts…andGame 6. Heck, even Bob Costas raved about
it
. The Great Curt Schilling said Midwest fans, Midwest players, and Cardinal Baseball is everything that’s good about America, sports-wise. I can’t disagree.

Sadly, some people prefer to hate and espouse ignorance. For the rest of us, 112 days until pitchers and catchers report!



About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.

Comments

  1. Congratulations to both teams!

  2. nyaaaaaaaaaa
    CARDINALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Darren Rovell is already making a big deal, TV ratings for Game 7 said to be MUCH lower that Game 7 in 2002. TV's biggest problem is Tim McCarver doing color last 20 years v. Tony Kubek, who was sheer brilliance.

    And many tuned out when Yankees/Phillies lost. People don't like seeing top seeds lose. Why NBA playoffs remain popular – the Heat, Celtics, and Lakers will be there in the end – refs will make sure.

    Where me and AJ differ is college football, just 14 precious Saturdays. Dozen plus games to watch, no 'Sunday Ticket' needed, and it's about the game itself and not how your 'fantasy players' do. Two games down to the wire, then two games in the snow + wild Oklahoma game. Last week had Hail Mary finish. Still most compelling sport out there even with recruiting BS and annual BCS controversy.

    Me and Ari have common ground on pro game though, don't like where NFL is headed and idiot commissioner does not help.

    • "And many tuned out when Yankees/Phillies lost. People don't like seeing top seeds lose."

      Those are called Yankee and Phillie fans, NOT baseball fans. Sad folks.

      And yes, I have ZERO interest in NFL. Boring. So boring.

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