By Trevor Bovich
On Saturday October 21, the New York Yankees historic postseason run fell short with a Game seven loss to the Houston Astros, 4-0. This was an incredible run for the Yankees who were supposed to be in a “rebuilding year.” A win on Saturday would have set up a New York, Los Angeles matchup in the World Series, which had the potential to be very beneficial for Major League Baseball as a whole.
Major League Baseball ratings overall have slowly declined over the past decade while sports such as the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League have been steadily increasing their growth in popularity as well as their revenues. With the NBA and NHL both starting in mid-October, playoff baseball faces a deficit in its viewing. Major League Baseball had the chance to get back to what we’ve known as “America’s favorite past time,” with a New York, Los Angeles matchup in the World Series.
Last year’s World Series matchup between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was the most watched World Series since 2004. The Chicago Cubs are known for their large market franchise which directly affected the viewing rate of this particular World Series. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are two of the most historic franchises in the MLB; not only are they know for their success in baseball, but they have also met eleven times since 1981 in the World Series, making them a well-known and respected rival in sports.
Studies show that large markets in sports, along with a well-known rivalry, generates nationwide press and sparks the interest of not only their fans, but various different groups of people that respect and enjoy the game. These two franchises which have appeared in a combined 59 World Series games, based off of statistics and facts, had the potential to produce an immensely large viewing for this World Series.
A loss of viewers has not only been a problem in the MLB, but in other sports such as the NBA and NHL. When big market franchises meet in a championship it draws more people in, boosting the ratings. In 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers met in the Stanely Cup finals, drawing very little mainstream viewers compared to when the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings met in 2014, breaking records for the number of viewers watched, in Game 2 with 6.4 million people.
If the Yankees were in the World Series, it would also bring in viewers rooting against them. Being the most successful franchise is sports history also makes them the most hated franchise in sports history, increasing viewer ratings.
No matter what the sport is, elite players gain a huge amount of attention during a team’s successful season. The NBA ratings this last decade have been very high due to the superstar power in the finals. LeBron James has been in the finals seven straight years and attracts so many fans throughout the U.S. because of the type of player he is. Last season’s finals generated the highest ratings with nearly 19.4 million viewers since Michael Jordan played in the 1990’s.
The Los Angeles Dodgers who are officially in this year’s World Series have some elite players such as Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig who have the potential to spark a high interest in sports fans nationwide. New York’s Aaron Judge, rookie superstar and winner of the 2017 home run derby, is another respected and well know player in the MLB who would have attracted a higher audience. Judge’s presence alone is a nationwide interest due to his extreme success in the MLB in just one year.
History in sports repeats itself in the fact that big time players create big time attention. This statement could have been proven once again this year with a win by the Yankees in game seven on Saturday night. Fan, rival, lover of the game, or even a “hater” of the Yankees cannot deny the facts of their success and their interest in watching the Yankees fail, or once again win a World Series.