As I promised when I started my regularly weekly installment of these rankings, the last edition would only feature two teams. So here we are – the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets. If anyone predicted this World Series, I would like to shake their hand. The Royals held on against the Toronto Blue Jays after they forced a Game 6. The Blue Jays were somewhat of a darling in the baseball community the last two months of the season. They were probably the most exciting team in the league with their plethora of power hitters and as loaded of a lineup as we’ve seen in a while. With David Price heading the rotation and Marcus Stroman returning from injury, I know I wasn’t alone in hoping that this team would be reaching the final stage.
The New York Mets made quick work of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had become America’s team after knocking out big brother St. Louis in the NLDS. Their record-breaking homerun marathon, mostly done by players under 25 was great to watch. The Mets swept them with fantastic pitching and more than enough timely hitting.
Major League Baseball was probably praying for the power-full excitement of Cubs vs Blue Jays. When you add in the 107 year drought for the Cubs including enough Back to the Future references to fill Wrigley Field, the networks would have no problems selling ad space. The Blue Jays brought their own drought, even if it was only one-fifth the size but we would have been seeing Joe Carter’s walk-off as often as we were seeing Doc Brown.
But…this isn’t the case and for a sport that has been having viewership issues for a few decades now, is that a problem? For myself, and huge baseball fans, there probably isn’t any less interest. I am as intrigued as any other combination of these four teams to see this particular matchup. I am fascinated by the young rotation of Mets pitchers that throw more heat than anyone. I can’t wait to see the Royals, who have no issue with 100 mile per hour heat, take on those young hurlers. David Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes vs Alcedis Escobar and Ben Zobrist. This gets me fired up, but what percentage of America would know any of those names? I can’t wait to see this but I predict the ratings will show I am not in the majority. It does make me sad that this Series won’t be as big than if the Blue Jays and especially the Cubs were in it.
What does leave me curious is why can’t baseball take any of the NFL viewers? I admit, in years past I was as big of a fan of the NFL as any. I’m 100% positive that I was watching Sunday Night Football over a World Series game a few years ago. But things have transitioned for me these last two years.
You may think well of course, I write about baseball, it makes sense that I like baseball more than football. Also, last year’s Chicago Bears team (my favorite team and one which I have season tickets to) was the most dysfunctional and embarrassing Bears team in my lifetime (yep, worse than anything Cade McNown or Jonathan Quinn had to offer). Of course I would prefer baseball. These reasons are just the tip of the iceberg on why I am leaning so much heavier towards the diamond rather than the gridiron.
Where to start? The easy target is Roger Goodell. It’s very hard to be a fan of a product when the owner is such a complete imbecile. I won’t get into detail but Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, deflate-gate and CTEs are enough buzz words to spit out that prove my point plainly. These are the types of things that make me look at the NFL with disgust and have helped ruined the product for me.
Now, of course baseball has their off-the-field issues too but it’s not even in the same stratosphere. Baseball had a giant steroid issue, which they ignored for decades, but they decided to finally clean it up and have only paid for it in followers. The NFL has far less “illegal substance” suspensions but do we really believe there is any less usage?
Even if I choose to only focus on the play on the field, I still have found many things which have led to my disinterest. First of all, anyone who says baseball is too boring or slow yet are football fans are delusional. Perhaps a September game with overloaded bullpens has too many commercials but I don’t think it compares to the wonderful “commercial-kickoff-commercial” that an NFL gives us sometimes ten to twelve times each game. I watched the whole offering of San Francisco vs Seattle on Thursday (completely for the sole reason that it was important to my fantasy team, but also since there was no baseball on) and I was bored out of my mind. It was atrocious football by the 49ers and the Seahawks weren’t a whole lot better.
This is my first year not paying for NFL’s Red Zone channel as I didn’t see a very good reason to do so. With this I am, by choice, left with watching my Bears (which have actually done a good job entertaining me this year, but I have a commitment to them) and the primetime games. These primetime games are selected in the preseason to be the best the sport has to offer, yet have the majority of these actually been good? Have any? If your sole selling point is a channel that only shows the scoring plays for people’s fantasy teams are people fans of the actual sport any longer?
Baseball has had a particularly rough postseason of “rule confusion” this season but that is also nowhere near what occurs in most football games. In a game that’s main element is “throw and catch”, not one person in the world knows what a “catch” even is. I wrote last week about how baseball’s rule book needs a facelift and needs to rid of anything that is labeled as “umpire’s discretion”. The entire NFL rulebook is up to “discretion”. There are holdings and pass interference every play but they are only called when the ref feels necessary.
And then there is the “parity” that is always forced down our throats when watching any pregame or postgame show. This year, it’s the Patriots and the Packers, and then everyone else. It’s basically even money to bet that these teams will make the Super Bowl. The rest of the league all is very mediocre…at best. Where did all the exciting football go?
Sunday night will be Game 5 of the World Series (unless there’s a sweep) and will more than likely feature an excellent pitching matchup of Matt Harvey and Edinson Volquez. They will be going head-to-head ratings-wise with the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. The World Series doesn’t have a chance even though this isn’t your older brother’s Peyton Manning. Oh well, you know what I’ll be watching (and I’m betting the football won’t be compelling).
Ok, to the actual matchup. I am going to tell you why these two teams won’t win it all but the second team I choose is who I am giving the nod in the Series. Make sense? As always, I am sorting my rankings with an emphasis on “what have you done for me lately?”
2. Kansas City Royals – Last week I said that I was a believer of the Royals because Johnny Cueto had me convinced he could be an ace in October after his ALDS Game 5 performance. He then gave up eight runs in Game 3, letting the Blue Jays back in the series. He didn’t make it through the third inning and looked nothing like the product the Royals thought they had traded away a large part of their future to obtain. Now what am I supposed to think? I do feel like the Royals are still short an ace and that is something they will be in need of during this series. I believe they may need a stopper at some point if they lose two in a row. Or they will need someone to go eight strong to give a beleaguered bullpen a rest. Right now, it’s hard to picture Cueto being that man. I have been wrong before and maybe I will be wrong again. I think the Royals have the slightly better offense but I see this matchup coming down to pitching. The Royals did not need their starters to go seven innings each start this season because of the strength of their bullpen. They went into this postseason without closer Greg Holland, putting a dent in that depth which certainly weakened the strength. Now Ryan Madson, who was great all season, is starting to spring some leaks as well. As the pieces start to fall, the Royals may end up just a little short which unfortunately would be an all too familiar feeling.
1. New York Mets – One of the bigger issues I can see the Mets having in the World Series is that they were given too long of a break. This team has been that good and did such an amazing job dismantling the Cubs. It’s hard to picture Daniel Murphy continuing this hot pace, especially when he has been left simmering for so long. Of course there are other issues than just the intangibility of having too many days off. Yoenis Cespedes will start Game 1, but has said he is not 100% with a sore shoulder. The Mets offense goes as Yo goes, and if he is hindered the lineup won’t flow as well as it did all second half. I just discussed the Royals having limited depth in their bullpen but the Mets depth is much less. Terry Collins really only trusts Jeurys Familia but he will let his starters go late into games. If the Series goes long, it’s a possibility we may see some fatigue if he has to keep going back to the Familia well.
I can really see any outcome being possible in this series, except perhaps a sweep by either. I have long not been a fan of the 2-3-2 setup, and I think the Mets are given a significant advantage with that format. Put me down for Mets in 7, but I will be keeping my money in my wallet – too close to call.