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Even When Giants Are Triumphant, Baseball Continues To Move Into Obscurity....

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Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

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Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning their first World Series in the California based history of the baseball franchise.  Although many believed that power offenses like the Phillies in the National League and the Yankees and Rangers in the American League would carry through the playoffs, the Giants proved the opposite.  The San Francisco Giants went 11-4 in postseason play winning six of their eleven victories by one run each.  The Giants did not blow out teams with a staggering lineup like many teams of past fall classics, but relied on pitching and defense which is a flashback to what makes a good overall baseball team......fundamentals.
 
One aspect of this World Series that will be remembered for the next couple of seasons will be the teams involved.  Not because of the make up of their rosters nor the way the games were played, but the fact that baseball had two teams in a World Series that many people beforehand did not follow like a New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies.  Teams like the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants (although as entertaining a five game series as it was) do not grab the national attention or recognition like other teams in Major League Baseball.  In fact every season we hear fans saying it is a good thing for baseball that the Yankees or Red Sox are not in the World Series.  Fans from across the country say they are tired of watching the Phillies in the fall classic because the "crown jewel" of the baseball world gets stale and boring.
 
If this World Series proved anything, it proves that the sport is indeed hurting for a new audience.
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People were happy, joyful, excited that their baseball postseason finale did not include the big boys of years past.  The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, etc etc.  If indeed you (baseball fan) were so excited about watching someone else play for baseball's holy grail, then why did you not watch?  Were you so disgusted that your team did not make the postseason and you simply wanted to enjoy watching the teams you "hate" not have a chance to win the grand prize of MLB?  Is your hate so deep and bitter for the teams that have success year in and year out that it outweighs your passion for your own team or sport in general?
 
I am a died-in-the wool Chicago White Sox fan and although all season long (in fact starting in early May) I had no hopes for my team to reach any postseason play, I enjoy watching the teams I root against.  You cannot hate the Yankees for the way they do business by signing all the top name free agents and taking advantage of baseball's salary structure with no salary cap.  You wish your team would do the same if not more than what the "Bronx Bombers" fork out to a 25 man roster.  However I despise the Yankees because they demand yet achieve success every single year along with the Boston Red Sox in the same division.  I know for a fact that if my White Sox shared a division with either of those teams that the south siders would never compete, but to have the type of success year in and year out makes me ill to my stomach.
 
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Every sport needs an enemy, and baseball has few.  Enemies do not only force you to keep your interest level high, but a constant jealousy ignites inside you.  What enemies do best for baseball is that very same principle.  You watch them.   
 
Judging by the ratings of the five game series of the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers, baseball really needs a boost or a new enemy badly.  Two teams that a lot of baseball fans know very little about because of the lack of stars on the teams themselves.  Of course with Texas the faces are Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee, but did you honestly know anything about C.J. Wilson or Elvis Andrus?  With San Francisco you knew Tim Linsecum and Matt Cain, but who know Edgar Renteria played in the city by the bay....and he won the MVP of the World Series!  Two teams that are followed by such a small portion of baseball fans was easily predictable to be bad news for baseball.
 
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Looking at the numbers more people were interested in Dancing With The Stars, Two And A Half Men, and Castle than a clinching game of a World Series.  Although networks will skew the numbers to make it look like a positive outcome, most press releases compare this year's numbers to those of the Tampa Rays/Philadelphia Phillies World Series of two years ago (the lowest rated World Series in history).  This year's World Series lost out to NFL Football, Criminal Minds, and barely beat out a weak slate of NCAA football on ABC Saturday night.  In fact Game three of the 2010 World Series was the second-lowest rated game in World Series history.   
 
Comparing this year's World Series to last year's World Series game by game: (According to Nielsen Research)
 
Game 1: NYY/PHIL - 13.8 Rating      
              TEX/SF - 8.9 Rating (Down 25%)
 
Game 2: NYY/PHIL - 11.5 Rating
              TEX/SF - 8.5 Rating (Down 26%)
 
Game 3: NYY/PHIL - 9.1 Rating
              TEX/SF - 6.7 Rating (Down 26%)
 
Game 4: NYY/PHIL - 13.5 Rating
              TEX/SF - 9.0 Rating (Down 23%)
 
Game 5: NYY/PHIL - 13.4 Rating
              TEX/SF - 10.6 Rating (Down 17%)
 
Looking at the numbers, is a Giants/Rangers World Series truly good for the game of baseball?   
 
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Here is the reality of the problem baseball faces.   
 
As much as the "steroid era" has ruined the trust factor of the game of baseball between fans and the players themselves, the sport needed it.  Record attendance, record revenues, and records shattered is always good for a sport in need of an injection of interest.  Chicks do indeed love the long ball, but if this World Series shows anything....chicks do not dig the fastball.  If baseball is indeed turning back into a game surrounded by defense and pitching than the game will suffer.  People like watching scoring plays more than they like watching double plays.  People like watching home runs and not strikeouts.  People like watching the balls go far and the stars do well, not Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria.   
 
My point is that Baseball needs a kick in the ass.  With the way the economy is (and has been for sometime now) and attendance down for the third straight season overall, baseball needs to give fans reason to care about the national pastime that seems too old and boring for the new generation.  Baseball's defiance on installing replay, speeding up the game, and overall lack of promotion of the stars of the game are directing it into a pool of obscurity.  I understand Bud Selig has done a lot of things as the Commissioner of MLB, but as he exits in 2012 the sport needs a young voice with fresh ideas to lead the game into a new age.  An age where fans will feel welcome to come to the park without spending a whole paycheck to do so.  An age where the calls are right on the first try and no human error leads to disgust with the game itself.  An age where a fine balance of pitching and defense corresponds to scoring numbers and home run totals that are not courtesy of Jose Bautista, but from the true stars of the game.   
 
If baseball is indeed like a blackboard.  Rebuilt and erased again, then it's time to start rebuilding a game that is too rooted in its own history and not willing to look forward.  Look to the models of the NFL, NBA, and even the NHL.  Baseball needs to try something new rather than rely on the past.  This past World Series was a great opportunity to showcase some fresh faces and try some new ways to bring the game of baseball through the television screen to common baseball fans around the country, yet MLB failed again.   
 
This game is dying a slow death.....
 
-RoCk
 
Rock Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and co-host of The Joe O And Rock Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
 
You can follow The Mully and Hanley Morning Show at twitter.com/mullyhanley
 
You can follow The Joe O And Rock Show at twitter.com/joeoandrockshow



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