Monday, October 31, 2011

World Series Review: I Suck at Predictions

 Despite worries from baseball elite that this year’s World Series would be boring and unprofitable due to the absence of large-market teams full of superstars, it turned out to be one of the most exciting Fall Classics in years.  Their worries were certainly valid, as the biggest audiences will typically tune in when teams from either coast are involved, and this Series was, as Sports Illustrated put it, “Central Casting,” with both the AL and NL Pennants going to teams far from the coasts, the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively.
The network carrying the Series also doesn’t begin to make a profit unless the two teams play five or more games in the best of seven series: since they pay Major League Baseball so much money to gain the exclusive televising rights, the advertising revenue after just four games (like the sweeps in 2004, 2005, and 2007) barely covers their cost.  If a Series reaches seven games, like this one, the network can charge huge amounts of money on advertising slots to get a return on their large investment.
 The games themselves were particularly compelling: on one side you had the Rangers, who have never won a World Series (including in their time as the Washington Senators), who were back after losing to the San Francisco Giants in last year’s Fall Classic, and who had been the no-doubt winners of the AL West for quite some time.  Across the diamond you had the Cinderella story:  the Cardinals had been ten games back in the Wild Card race with a month to play, and had just a 1.1% chance of even seeing the playoffs, before taking down the Braves to make it in, then the favored Phillies (who had been practically crowned World Champs in February), and the Brewers.
While Texas hunted fruitlessly for it’s first title, St. Louis tried to provide more incentive for free-agent to be Albert Pujols to stay with the team this offseason, and it might have worked – when asked if a repeat would be possible in 2012, Pujols grinned and said, “Why not?” 
The Series it self was compelling all the way through, as the two teams traded victories through Game 4, and then Texas gained a 3-2 advantage by winning Game 5.  If you didn’t watch what happened next, you missed a hell of a game.  Game 6 was one for the ages: the Rangers were one strike away from winning their first title – twice.  They had a two-run lead in both the ninth and tenth innings, and then David Freese and Lance Berkman (both with two strikes against them) batted in the tying runs.  Freese would hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning to send the Series to its seventh game.
 After the drama of Game 6, Game 7 was slightly less exciting, as the Cards earned the lead in the third and never relinquished it.  Hometown boy David Freese was named World Series MVP, and the city of St. Louis earned the right to party in the streets for the second time in five years.  Despite the absence of a big-market team, this World Series was one for the ages – it’s only too bad that it’s over.

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