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Story lines abound, but World Series ratings may suffer without big markets
ST. LOUIS — A big star who’s overcome personal adversity. A popular band that everyone counted out. A crazy critter with a cute nickname.
Turn on the TV this week, and you can see top talent, neat plot lines and two loaded lineups.
Oh, the World Series? That, too.
By any measure, the matchup of the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals that starts Wednesday night is a nifty one. A totally unexpected pairing, boosted by sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton and spiced by a Rally Squirrel.
But minus big-market teams, and at a time when TV ratings for baseball games are dwindling, this is the overarching question as the Series begins in the shadow of the Arch at Busch Stadium: Will anyone watch?
A Yankees cap turned backward on his head as he waited to pick up a fare in midtown Manhattan, cab driver Jay Javid of Brooklyn said he wouldn’t tune in after his favorite team got eliminated.
Milwaukee Brewers fan Andy Schaaf, who lives in Chicago, predicts poor TV numbers.
“Terrible,” he said Tuesday. “I think they’ll probably be down because New York isn’t in it, Boston isn’t in it.”
“I think there’s a lot of people like me who’ll watch if it gets close late, but who won’t drop everything to watch Texas-St. Louis,” Schaaf added.
The Rangers didn’t make much of a dent last year, when their games against the San Francisco Giants drew an 8.4 rating. That matched the lowest ever for a World Series, tying Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in 2008. It was 39 percent higher when the Yankees and the Phillies played in 2009.
This October doesn’t bode well for Fox, either. The Detroit-Texas and Milwaukee-St. Louis showdowns for slots in the World Series attracted little interest, compared to previous years.
“Realistically, the Yankees, love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re a big market, a lot of following around the country. It’s the same thing with the Red Sox in a way. It is what it is,” Fox Sports Vice Chairman Ed Goren said.
“I don’t particularly care about the location — Central time zone. We don’t have East Coast, West Coast. I hope we have baseball fans. If you don’t watch, you’re not a baseball fan.”
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