The playoffs are merely days away, but then again everything is merely days away if one were to get technical. And if the Mets make it to the playoffs then the playoffs will be much more intriguing then they were last season, at least in the National League.
From a pure baseball standpoint, games can be enjoyed by the quality that is on the field, not just the uniform. Last season, fans had to watch the Rockies and the Diamondbacks in the National League playoffs. This wasn’t great from an entertainment standpoint. Even if those teams were great, which they weren’t, then fans would still be hesitant to watch them. Those two don’t have the history that others do, and they don’t have the market either. I for one was not very interested in a Colorado-Arizona NLCS, and I know many others weren’t either. But this season neither of those teams will be in the playoffs, being replaced by the Dodgers and either the Mets or Brewers, depending on who wants to play even decent to finish the season.
The level of intrigue is much greater with the 2008 scenario, and like I said much more so in the NL.
If the Mets do get in, then that will be the best scenario for Major League Baseball. Although the Brewers would be a decent option, the Mets have the market, which means more fans will care, and more viewers will tune in. I am no Mets fan, but having a team representing New York will increase ratings and the level of interest amongst fans. There are no Yankees this year, and from a ratings standpoint, it hurts, but the Mets would be the next best thing of teams have not secured a postseason berth yet.
What we would have in the NL would be great. The Cubs, those “lovable losers” that everyone will cheer for. The Phillies, who have a large, passionate fan base. The Mets, for the reason(s) mentioned in the paragraph that sits above this one. And the Dodgers, who have history, even though their fans are suspected to arrive late and exit early to watch their team. And the Dodgers, who also have Manny. He will attract people to watch, trust me on that. Red Sox fans that are angry at Manny will watch, and the ones who aren’t angry at him, must like him, so they will watch too.
In the AL, the Red Sox are there, which will bring in many sets of eyes. The White Sox are there (if of course they win the division). And they have the same large market that the Cubs have, maybe not the exact same, but a rather large fan base. The Angels, which seem to be there every year, and are a good team. Maybe not a rabid fan base, but still a large market, and of course there is quality there with what they put on the field. And then the Rays. One might say that the Rays are boring, not necessarily their style of play, which isn’t boring, but the feeling one gets when watching them. Look, the announcers are not good, they play in the boringest stadium in the history of baseball, and they have accomplished absolutely nothing historically that will arouse anyone’s interest. So I completely understand how they are not the most exciting franshise, but they are a small market team. And baseball could use one of those in the playoffs every year, as a representation of hope for other low revenue franchises. Not to mention, to show to the many fans of the game that teams can succeed without throwing around tons of money. It is great to see a team without a lot of money doing well, even if they happen to have won (or most likely win) the division that my favorite team happens to have finished in second. It is ultimately good for the game.
As far as quality is concerned? There are no truly great teams as of now (the phrase “historically great” at least could be used). The Cubs would compete with the best of the American League if they happened to have played in it, but they are the only real good NL team. The rest aren’t bad, or even mediocre. But I wouldn’t call them good either. Somewhere in the middle. Put it this way, if the Yankees played in the NL then they would be, at least, the second best team heading into the playoffs.
But what we have, assuming the Minnesota Twins don’t sneak in, is a World Series that should be fun to watch for the majority of fans. Any team in the NL would be a good viewing in terms of its followers. And in the AL, 3 of the 4 teams, would attract a lot of viewers. There are scenarios for great matchups too. Cubs-White Sox. Mets-Red Sox. Cubs-Red Sox. Dodgers-Red Sox. White Sox-Mets. Phillies vs…well you get my point. Rays-Phillies would probably be the worst case scenario for ratings. Or Rays-Dodgers. But I have a feeling that many Sox fans would be watching that matchup, which would increase the following of the the 2008 World Series.
So please don’t get angry that I want to see the White Sox win the division. For the Rays are the small market team, and the White Sox bring more viewers than that of the Twins. Not necessarily more intense viewers, just more quantity wise. I would love to see Joe Mauer in the postseason, but a dome is a dome. It is dark, and it just seems dreary on television. Twins-Rays would be a miserable series, by the way, if one looks at it as I have been doing in this blog. Disagree? Unless one were to get really hyped up over the Delmon Young-Matt Garza exchange…