The World Series is baseball’s stage to showcase its product, and this season promised to finally put the game in the spotlight as a major media event for sports fans around the nation. It would be a�?Must-See TV” for the masses to tune in and possibly experience something that no one alive today hasa��the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. The ratings were through the roof on TBS for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series from Wrigley Field. It was the most-viewed NLCS game in history, and it wasn’t because of the Mets.
Everything was set for the Cubs to obliterate World Series ratings with the entire country watching every pitch wondering if they were going to finally do the impossible and win it all. Unfortunately, nobody gave the New York Mets the script. After devastating the Cubs in four games, the Mets set the baseball world back to irrelevance with a finale that will be, a�?Who Cares TV.”
Apathetic baseball fans will tune out in droves. A regular season Thursday night football match between two bottom-feeders normally destroys baseball’s Fall Classic in the ratings.
The events of the past week were the worst that could happen for the sport. You have two teams that are second-choice in their own markets. If the home crowd doesn’t love them, why should the rest of the world? The Mets are the ugly stepsister of New York baseball, resigned to always be the low team on the totem pole in Gotham. At least the nation could band together to root against the Evil Empire Yankees, where-as the Mets just gather a collective yawn from those outside their fandom.
It’s the same in Missouri. When you think of baseball in the “Show Me State”, your thought immediately drifts to the Cardinals. You only think of Kansas City when you’re thinking of barbecue, if that is the regional style you prefer.
Can you think of a more boring matchup? You have the comic book figures of Thor and the Dark Knight in New York, and in KC, you have a lineup so nondescript that the most noteworthy part of the team is the bullpen. I can’t wait until the 6th or 7th inning when they get in the game.
It’s also a matchup of two downtrodden managers. Terry Collins was on the brink of being fired before the trade deadline when the cavalry came to his rescue in the form of Yoenis Cespedes. In baseball circles, Kansas City manager Ned Yost is normally thought of as a joke that nobody gets and the team wins in spite of rather than because of him.
Kansas City vs. the New York Mets; I know I can’t wait for the first pitcha��not! Instead, this could have been the Chicago Cubs vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. It could have been two countriesa��alliesa��going at each other in the realm of baseball superiority. The battle of North America would have been on, and everyone would have been watching. All of Canada would have been pulling for Toronto, while the United States would have finally been in agreement on something, unlike politics, by pulling together to root the Cubbies on.
How much fun would that series be? With Toronto you have the Murderers Row of Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, and Tulowitzki, and with the Cubs you have history, along with a young team with their own group of sluggers.
Who wouldn’t want to see Kyle ‘Babe’ Schwarber on the national stage wrecking-havoc like he did knocking one into the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, on top of the scoreboard in Chicago, and a 459-foot blast in New York? The Cubs also feature National League Rookie of the Year favorite Kris Bryant, the player fans were clamoring to watch since he devastated Arizona pitching during Spring training before being sent down to start the season.
Addison Russell was expected back for the World Series. Along with coming up with key hits throughout the season, he was a human highlight film on defense. I haven’t even mentioned the rock of the team, Anthony Rizzo, with a 30-homer, 100 ribbie season, or Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta, who had the best second-half of pitching in the history of the game.
If it was cold at Wrigley, would Cuban refugee Jorge Soler be dressed in snowmobile pants and a parka for the game? There were so many fun questions and storylines to unfold if the Cubs made it to the big stage.
And speaking of fun, how much fun would it be to talk to Cubs manager Joe Maddon? While most managers would rather have a colonoscopy than talk to the media, Maddon relishes taking center stage. Would he have brought a lion tamer in to entertain his troops, or maybe pulled a rabbit out of a hat instead of having a magician do it for him?
The world was waiting for the Cubs to break the ‘Curse of the Billy Goat.’ Everything would have stopped as all eyes would have been on every pitch to see if it would happen. Instead, the black cat from 1969 came back with one of its nine lives and ruined what would have been an October to remember.
And for that, the baseball world loses.