Readers of this blog know that I like baseball better than football. Sure, I'll watch the Vikings and big games between exciting teams, but I enjoy baseball more, am more invested in how the Twins do than the Vikings. This doesn't mean that I can't acknowledge that professional football is more popular than baseball. It's an unfortunate but given fact.
Some have said that football is the perfect TV sport. A few seconds of action punctuated by delays so that TV can go over what happened and get ready for the next action. However you can say that about baseball too (but without the violence). I think the main difference is that the NFL long ago learned to market the entire league to the American public. Sure there are glamour teams but all teams are created and marketed equally. Compare that to baseball where the Yankees and Red Sox get most of the attention, followed by the Mets, maybe the Cubs and Dodgers, then all the rest. It can be maddening if you're not a fan of those few teams. Unfortunately MLB perpetuates this focus as well.
No better example is last year's Super Bowl vs. this year's World Series. This past Super Bowl had two very small market teams (New Orleans and Indianapolis) playing for the championship. Sure you had a nice story with New Orleans and its 40 plus years of futility and the issues related to Katrina, but still two pretty unglamorous markets as far as sports go. But it doesn't matter for the NFL, the game got monster ratings, some of the highest ever.
Now compare that with this year's World Series, which is already getting slagged as boring because there's not a big market involved. Fact is there are two huge markets involved. Dallas-Fort Worth is the 5th largest market in the U.S. behind NYC, LA, Chicago, and Philly. San Francisco/Oakland is sixth. So we are talking big markets here. Also California and Texas are the two biggest states in the union, and undoubtedly there will be folks from Houston, Austin, LA, San Diego, etc., tuning in. In short these are two large market teams, vying for their first Championship and MLB has focused so long on Boston-NYC that it can't figure out how to get people excited about any other team or match-up.
Unfortunately, the non-ESPN media has bought into the Yankee-Red Sox as well, even to their detriment. I was in Chicago this weekend, and some of the local sports talk shows were discussing "worst World Series ever?" topic. Chicago! If there ever was a market that would want to break out of the eastern seaboard mentality of ESPN and Fox Sports you would think it would be Chicago.
Now I don't know how to fix this. Sorry. But I know I will be watching, I'll be excited even if my sports media overlords aren't. And when the poor ratings come in, instead of thinking of ways to increased the likelihood of a Yankees-Red Sox World Series, perhaps MLB should think of ways to market 30 teams across the country. Ask the NFL how they do it.