“When those teams were involved, there was much more of a buzz in that area,” said Larkin, who retired in 2004 and now works as an analyst for MLB Network. “When they were not, it was so obvious that people could care less.”
“I think they are not because of the way baseball markets its players,” Larkin said. “It markets its teams as opposed to marketing players.”
A player like Derek Jeter is far more famous for winning championships with the Yankees than for his batting average or home runs.
“Individually you get recognition within the team concept,” Larkin said.
Casual fans tuning in to this World Series may be more likely to recognize Texas’ current owner Nolan Ryan, or the 43rd president, the team’s former owner. Mays and Bonds may outshine the current Giants from the stands.
In 2002, while Bonds was still playing for San Francisco, the Giants and Angels met in the World Series and even went the full seven games. They still averaged what at the time was a record-low rating.
About 3 million cable TV subscribers in the New York area _ out of the nation’s nearly 115 million homes with televisions _ won’t even be able to watch the World Series unless Fox and Cablevision settle their dispute. Goren called the effect “nominal.”
Fox play-by-play announcer Joe Buck jokes that he visits Dallas nearly every week during NFL season to call Cowboys games. The network has never sent him to Texas to cover a Rangers game, proving it’s not just about market size but the marketability of certain teams.
Buck expects to spend a lot of time educating fans about Rangers manager Ron Washington’s admission of cocaine use and Giants closer Brian Wilson’s beard.
“You can’t assume everybody knows all about that to a national audience,” he said.
If the series just goes long enough, he hopes those fans have enough time to learn to love these two unfamiliar teams.