Are you watching this Series, Braves fans? (Didn’t think so)

We watched the night the Braves got this trophy, didn't we? (AJC file photo)

We watched the night the Braves were handed this trophy, didn't we? (AJC file photo)

I was just on a Tampa radio show — primary topic: Georgia-Florida — when the host wondered if we Atlantans were watching the World Series. In a wicked combination of guess/generalization, I said I didn’t think so. (As for myself, I refuse to watch baseball on Fox. I listen on SiriusXM. But I’m of that advanced age where baseball on radio is a slice of nostalgia.)

I also believe this, and national ratings would seem to support me: Baseball has become what the skeptics used to say college basketball and college football were — a regional sport. (And didn’t we use to call it the National Pastime?) Gone are the days when you’d watch the World Series just because it was the World Series. Now there has to be a hook, and there’s really not one for us Atlantans.

(Unless you’re talking about unpleasantness. We could watch Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz work for the Rangers and think, “Hey, aren’t those the guys the Braves traded for Mark Teixeira?” Or we could watch the Cardinals and say, “Weren’t we leading that team by 8 1/2 games in September?” But who wants to be a masochist?)

Were the Braves in this series, we’d all be watching. Since they aren’t, we aren’t. And that’s not just the case here: That’s true in every city that lacks a dog in this fight.

Consider: In 1985, Game 5 of the World Series between St. Louis and Kansas City — two Midwestern teams in smaller markets — drew a national rating of 24.9; Game 5 of this World Series — St. Louis is again involved, along with another team from the Central Time Zone — drew an 8.8.

I blame many things for this: The failure of baseball to maximize its strengths in a medium that caters to quicker and sleeker; the failure of baseball to cultivate a younger audience back when, and the proliferation of entertainment choices, about which even baseball can do nothing. (It was a lot easier to pick the World Series as viewing fare when it was one of four options; now you’ve got 150 channels plus video on demand.)

Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. I also blame Tim McCarver.

By Mark Bradley

214 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

October 27th, 2011
2:33 pm

Mark Bradley

October 27th, 2011
2:34 pm

Kudos, NCD. But I gotta ask: Are you watching?

GT Dude

October 27th, 2011
2:36 pm

George Stein

October 27th, 2011
2:40 pm

I watch because I have a morbid curiosity about which manager will bungle his team more. Somewhere, I’m sure Fredi is taking lessons from those two on how to screw up a game more.

Plus, I love baseball and my beloved Jackets are making me crazy.

NC Dawg

October 27th, 2011
2:40 pm

Mark, I am not watching. I can’t get over Andrus and Feliz wearing Rangers uniforms when they should be wearing Braves. Totally agree with you in that if my dog (Braves) aren’t in the hunt, I don’t care to watch.

Winfield Featherston

October 27th, 2011
2:42 pm

Tim McCarver sucks.
“Strike is a 5 letter word. S-T-R-I-K-E”

bart

October 27th, 2011
2:42 pm

Adding divisions and wild card teams has helped keep the excitement up for the regular season but when the dust has settled and the WS begins, you are correct – nobody much outside the fans in the two cities cares much. Doesn’t help much that this now falls in the middle of the college & pro football seasons. That plus all the other available distractions has turned the WS into a regional event.

Tom

October 27th, 2011
2:42 pm

No.

The best thing about baseball this year is that the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox all spent millions more than the Braves for the privilege of playing between 0 and 5 additional games.

That just makes me smile.

Kobie

October 27th, 2011
2:44 pm

Mark, you are dead on with this article. Especially the one about Tim McCarver, he just makes it unbearable to watch on FOX.

Go Jackets

October 27th, 2011
2:44 pm

remember watching the 64 cards/yanks during 4th grade, love the game, still do but have watched maybe 4 batters in total for all the reasons you mentioned. good writing.

Mark Bradley

October 27th, 2011
2:45 pm

I have to confess: I used to love covering the World Series. (I’ve done 13 of them.) But now I’m glad I’m not there. The start times and the length of games make writing for a morning newspaper all but impossible.

Bravesfan

October 27th, 2011
2:45 pm

The failure of baseball to maximize its strengths in a medium that caters to quicker and sleeker – what are you expecting fireworks after every hit? dancing cheerleaders on the field? fences moved in 20 feet for more home runs?

Note that baseball probably did better in terms of popularity and financials in the steroid era (not that I want players with 36″ biceps again).

ClemsonBrad

October 27th, 2011
2:45 pm

Mark, very curious….how come you won’t watch baseball on Fox? Even if you don’t like the broadcasters(and why don’t you like him?) Can’t you mute the channel and listen to SeriusXM?

George Stein

October 27th, 2011
2:46 pm

Best of luck to y’all Saturday, ClemsonBrad. You won’t need it, though.

Mark Bradley

October 27th, 2011
2:47 pm

There’s a severe lag between what you see on TV and what you hear on SiriusXM, ClemsonBrad. Has to do — former colleague Mike Knobler explained this to me — with the radio signal having to bounce off a satellite.

C dog

October 27th, 2011
2:47 pm

I miss NBC broadcasting the WS…ie 1995 WS NBC

East Point's Finest

October 27th, 2011
2:48 pm

In protest of the Braves collapse I have refused to watch this year’s post-season. Baseball was the first sport I fell in love with, so for me to feel this way means I was deeply hurt by this season’s disappointment. I have no doubt I will be watching baseball again next season, but I need a break from it for a few months.

Mark Bradley

October 27th, 2011
2:48 pm

And, to be brutally candid, I can read and listen to the radio at the same time.

All I remember is

October 27th, 2011
2:50 pm

Coach Richt
has more class than to guarantee a win in Jacksonville.

gtdrake

October 27th, 2011
2:56 pm

@winfield featherston

Tim McCarver is one of the best. So much insight. Him and Buck are an awesome team. Personally, as a braves fan, I am watching the world series. I am a baseball fan, that’s what baseball fans do.

Mike

October 27th, 2011
2:58 pm

I’m passively watching, checking in during commercial breaks of the other show I’m watching at the time.

doug dawg

October 27th, 2011
2:59 pm

frankly, who cares about some team from texas — don’t even know what city they come from — and st. louis, missouri. who cares about missouri? where is it? and if umizzou comes to the sec, no one will still care. except for another mediocre team for the rest of us to feed off of.

Dontavius Supremo

October 27th, 2011
3:00 pm

When I was a kid in the early sixties, and the series was still played in the daylight (like God intended) we used to sneak transistor radios into school. I still remember the boys in class shouting when Mazeroski hit his homer in the ninth! Now? Your’re right Mark. No one cares anymore. And that’s a shame, because basball call really be a fun game to watch. I’m not so smart, so you tell me: What went wrong?

ChopAttack

October 27th, 2011
3:00 pm

I’m watching… but let’s face it. The NFL is king now.

@___ISH___

October 27th, 2011
3:01 pm

I can’t stand watching the Fox broadcasts either, I loathe Buck and McCarver. I feel we’re not alone on that so that plays into it. Back before there were interleague games it was certainly more interesting too, that’s the biggest thing for me I guess.

doug dawg

October 27th, 2011
3:01 pm

can you see any current sec team getting ‘hot’ to play missouri? did i spell that right?

TC

October 27th, 2011
3:02 pm

What are you reading these days Mark?

Tim McCarver

October 27th, 2011
3:03 pm

What’s wrong with you guys? I know all there is to know about baseball, and you guys know the rest. Obviously.

jtb

October 27th, 2011
3:03 pm

MB,
Do you actually think Tim McCarver is one of the reasons for a lack of viewers? I think that he and Chip Carey, while on TBS, hurt viewership. Also, do you think the switch from the Division Series from ESPN to TBS hurt ratings? The mothership bothers me as much as the next guy, but many casual sports fans watch whatever is on their networks and if they had the rights to games then they would give it more air time on SC as well as all the promo ads. As well as if more people watched the Division Series’ then more people would get hooked on the story lines and continue watching the later rounds. Thoughts?

tulsabravo

October 27th, 2011
3:03 pm

I’m back in GA now, and I am watching the world series, but not closely. It just kills me to be reminded of the awful moves made by Schuerholz and the Braves, i.e. Wainwright, Marquis. and King for a one year player rental in J.D. Drew and Marrero. And the same goes for Andrus, Salty, Harrison and Feliz for the great Teixeira and Mahay. Just pathetic.

Delbert D.

October 27th, 2011
3:03 pm

Dontavius Supremo – I remember that exact moment. Algebra class.

Abnerish

October 27th, 2011
3:04 pm

If you have a DVR, you pause it until you get it in synch. Works great with satellite radio, but not so good with regular radio! As regular radio is ahead of TV.

Rico

October 27th, 2011
3:06 pm

You are talking about the World Series of Poker on ESPN, right? LOL

Tech Rules

October 27th, 2011
3:07 pm

“There’s a severe lag between what you see on TV and what you hear on SiriusXM”

Mark, that’s what DVR’s are for, to delay enough to allow you to sync the picture with XM or mlb.com. That’s how I watch the Braves when the TV announcers aren’t part of the Braves TV pool. In addition I tune into 790thezone.com to sync with the picture when watching Tech away games.

Bluestreak

October 27th, 2011
3:08 pm

While McCarver has been a drain on the WS ever since he got into the spat with Neon Deion, I’m still watching. It’s still the championship. I’ve watched every SB (my lifetime) and the Falcons have only made one.

I’m pulling to see the Rangers get their first ring and rooting solidly against the Cardinals. The only WS I didn’t care much for was the Subway Series between the Mutts and the Yaps. Both teams could go away, and I wouldn’t mind.

Wolf

October 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

Can’t watch a game until next April. The Braves soured me from the game for at least 5 months.

Sonny Clusters

October 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

We was glad to see a baseball blog. Clusters can play some ball and we like to blog some baseball even in the off season. It IS off-season for the Braves, right? They are out a huntin’, right? Watching the WS is something we’re going to do even if we are heartsick at the EPIC collapse of the Atlanta Braves. When they needed to win a game they couldn’t and when they had some choices to make about how they would compete they gave us more Derek Lowe. Blowing a lead like they had and losing that grounder in the lights and not being able to bring runners home from third was just some of the problems. From the get-go we urged them to hire Stinky Wintes but he says nobody from the Braves contacted him. That puts a lot of pressure on Greg Walker who needs to put a little pressure on Jason Heyward and some of the other Braves not named Freddie. If we was Fredi Gonzales we would burn everything in the clubhouse and start all over. We’d take down those little signs in the outfield, too. Then, we’d ban all huntin’ magazines and spit cups in the clubhouse and tell the players they need to play some ball. That’s what we’d do and we was state championship.

6-2

October 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

Did Coach Paul Johnson tune up that previously explosive and talented GT offense?

Rico

October 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

Hey “Tech Rules” – Brilliant!

Abnerish

October 27th, 2011
3:15 pm

I honestly think the addition of the Division Series has at least somewhat contributed to the decline of interest. Too many games and people just get worn out. It feels more like the NBA or NHL playoffs. Drag on far too long.

Triple Lindy

October 27th, 2011
3:17 pm

I’m absolutely watching. If you’re a baseball fan and not watching, you’re missing out. Its been one of the better Series in years and absolutely worth watching to see Tony “Smartest Man In Baseball” LaRussa flub the bullpen management.

Also as a side note: the best thing about postseason baseball on Fox — 3 weeks of Joe Buck-less NFL coverage.

Ole Smoky

October 27th, 2011
3:18 pm

Tim McCarver & Fox Baseball are awful but I do want see another LaRussa meltdown… Go Rangers !

kevin

October 27th, 2011
3:19 pm

Mark don’t be so harsh on Tim McCarver. Some of the blame has to go to Joe Buck too. Those guys are awful! Hell I am not even sure Joe is watching the same game I am sometimes.
gtdrake you are out of your mind if you think they are one of the best teams. You want good listen to the braves on the radio. Ben Ingram filling on for Don or Jim is about 100 billizon times better than those two.
I am watching the world series despite those too because I will agree with gtdrake…that is what baseball fans do.
Mark baseball on the radio is not nostalgia, I am 28 years old and I love it.

As for why people are not as into the world series I think it has to do with a change in society. We are a need it now kind of society. Football and college basketball you can watch one game in a 3 hour block and know who moves on. NBA post season takes fooooorrrrrrrreeeeeeeeevvvvvvvveeeer and the NHL too. 1 round of 5 and 2 rounds of 7 with off days played after two games takes too long for a sort of fan to be interested in.
I’ve been thinking recently why not drop all three series down 2 games. with a one game playoff for an extra wild card team. best of 3 (like most regular season series) for division series, best of 5 for LS and WS. no off days, if travel from coast to coast play the early game/late game.

Oh yeah and force Fox/ESPN to show less phillies/yankees/red sox games during the season so people can learn about other teams so when the post season comes around they will get to watch something known.

Abnerish

October 27th, 2011
3:20 pm

Oh yeah, and McCarver is awful. I am amazed that Fox keeps dragging him out every year. Who likes him? I’ve never heard anybody say anything good about him. Ever. Deion tracking down McCarver in the clubhouse just to douse him with ice water is still in my top ten favorite sports moments. “Yo where McCarver at?”

Delbert D.

October 27th, 2011
3:21 pm

Baseball needs an alternative format. Play the regular league games, but add in an FA cup-type single elimination competition with all the minor league teams that runs throughout the season. Even the Brits would tune in for that.

Abnerish

October 27th, 2011
3:23 pm

So will the fans in Busch stadium quiet down when LaRussa picks up the bullpen phone? I can see the big screen now — “Quiet please, LaRussa is using the phone”

Bhorsoft

October 27th, 2011
3:24 pm

Only watch it (or any baseball game) if I’m in need of a good long nap. Same holds true for golf on TV.

NC Brave

October 27th, 2011
3:26 pm

Good article, MB. I haven’t watched a second of baseball since the final out of the “collapse”. It will be interesting to see if I can stomach baseball next spring. I’ve gone from shock to somewhere between anger and disbelief. Go Thrashers! Oh wait…Hawks….hmmm…Falcons there we go!

blazerdawg

October 27th, 2011
3:26 pm

I love baseball, have always considered the Rangers to be my AL team, and I still have not caught a game yet. None of my work colleagues have even mentioned it.

In 1950 when folks got off work at 5:00 PM they could take the ten minute bus ride to the game, get in for a few bucks, and watch a two hour and fifiteen minute game.

I do not mind the length of the games necessarily, but CFB and the NFL are absolutely a distraction, not to mention all of the other great things to do around Atlanta in the fall.

If the baseball season ended August 31 I would enjoy it much more, but I know that will never happen.

Next labor negotiation I wish the players would ask for fewer games not more dough. How much do they need?

CONTRACT THE SEASON!

Delbert D.

October 27th, 2011
3:30 pm

Headline: “Pro Leagues Must Recognize Their Limits” Vecsey, nytimes today