Around the Diamonds

Hope yields huge ratings for MLB postseason

OCT 15, 2016: A Indians' Postseason Patch during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. Cleveland defeated Toronto 2-1. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire).
(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire).

Baseball is a hot commodity this October. With the right mix of teams making the postseason, the ratings are up big across multiple networks as people can’t stop tuning in to see what is going to happen next.

According to Sports Media Watch, FS1 saw huge gains during the Division Series this season compared to their American League contests in 2015. Over the nine games that aired on their network, they averaged 3.7 million viewers, which is an increase of 32 percent.

That includes the “most-watched telecast in the network’s history” as the Cubs beat the Giants to advance to the NLCS in front of an average of 6,368,00 viewers.

MLB Network also broke records as their two NLDS matchups drew 2.8 million viewers, up 55 percent from last year.

During the ALDS, TBS saw huge gains as Game 1 of the Red Sox and Indians was up 61 percent compared to the 2015 series that featured Houston and Kansas City on FS1. And on Sportsnet, over 10 million Canadians saw some portion of Game 3 of the Blue Jays versus the Rangers.

In the NLCS, the Cubs versus the Dodgers has topped the cable charts during Game 1 and Game 2, which is what you’d expect from two of the biggest TV markets in the country. The ALCS hasn’t been as dominant, but it has been respectable nonetheless. Game 1 was first Friday night with a 1.1 rating, Game 2 netted a top-ten appearance and Game 3 was fourth behind the NFL and WWE.

The ratings shouldn’t be too surprising considering that this has to be one of the most desperate group of playoff teams of all time. Eight of the ten finalists haven’t won a World Series in over 20 years, and depending on how the Championship Series finish up, we could be in for something special.

The Cubs are obvious. They haven’t won since 1908 and haven’t won a pennant since 1945. They own the longest championship drought in professional sports, which is a gigantic draw the further we get into the month. If the Cubs make the World Series, it wouldn’t be shocking to see it be the highest-rated baseball series of all time for a myriad of reasons.

The Cleveland Indians are next up, having gone 67 seasons without hoisting the trophy with champagne-soaked hands. With shrewd pitching moves and a city that just broke through a cross-sport championship drought with the Cleveland Cavaliers, “Believeland” has a lot of momentum behind it.

The Dodgers have morphed into a modern-day version of the 90’s Yankees in terms of spending, but they haven’t won it all yet. It’s been 27 seasons and counting for a Dodgers championship.

And we can’t forget our brethren to the north in the hunt for October glory. While hanging on by a thread down 3-1 to the Indians, it’s been 23 seasons since Canada was the champion of America’s Pastime. One of these teams is going to break through this season, which is incredibly exciting.

The same can be said for the divisional teams as the Rangers hadn’t won in 55 seasons and the Nationals haven’t even won the pennant since the franchise came to be in 1969.

The Mets and Orioles had quick one-game exits, but they were searching to end 30 years and 32 years of futility, respectively.

Even the Giants and the Red Sox were a draw in their own right. Madison Bumgarner’s reputation as the best postseason pitcher on the planet and the team’s chance at extending the improbable even-year championship streak was enough for even the casual fan to have been interested. The Red Sox bright young stars, David Ortiz’s final postseason, and the possibility of World Series matchup with the Cubs had some people hoping they’d go all the way.

With another season almost come and gone, it’s great to see the sport thriving in the postseason and sparking excitement amongst the masses. While the “baseball is dying” narrative is tired, it’s nice to see statistical proof that people still care about the game.

For one of these teams and one of their fan-bases, hope is about to turn into reward. Will you be watching?

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