Tuesday, October 18, 2016

With NFL ratings tumbling, this could be MLB's big chance... if a certain Evil Empire wasn't so declawed

Sunday, the venerable Sporting News interviewed Yankee strip clubs coach special instructor Alex Rodriguez about the state of American hookers the game. And get this: For the first time, A-Rod would say there is an opening.

"I will say for the first time there’s an opening," A-Rod told me by phone before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and Dodgers Sunday. "It’s up to us to take advantage of it."

The "opening" isn't a reference to Kim Kardashian's latest bra mishap. A-Rod was referring to the 10 percent drop in NFL ratings, compared with 2015. Keep in mind: A 3 percent drop would give Robo-Commissioner Roger Goodell night sweats. Ten percent means pro football has had a worse October than Billy Bush. The NFL's historically invulnerable ratings had survived Ray Rice, Aaron Hernandez, concussion suicides multiple crimes against female humanity and a pile of "gates" - Deflategate, Bountygate, Spygate, whatevergate. If the NFL was a person, he'd be in prison. Yet until now, the Neilsens never showed it. Suddenly, ratings are down 10 percent. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of corporate lawyers.

(Note: Some folks want to blame all this on Colin Kaepernick's sideline protests - and, yeah, some folks are pissed off, pro or con - but a 10 percent drop? Nope. Personally, I blame the 10- minute delays while booth dorks psychoanalyze every turnover and score. A dull, one-yard touchdown run - with mandatory review, extra point, commercial block, kickoff into the end zone, and then another round of commercials - can kill 15 minutes. The GEICO punch lines get stale after the third showing.)

But we were talking about A-Rod, whom the Yankees will pay $21 million next year to slap butts and avoid Page Six. Alex says football's woes are baseball's big chance: An exciting World Series could restore the pastime to - well - the Pastime. And he has a point. This is gravy time. Unfortunately, though, to fully reclaim the interest of America - (Note: I'm referring to me) - a particular marquee team needs to be in the mix. Baseball needs a team that everybody loves or hates, and, frankly, that team is still not Boston.

MLB needs a strong Yankees franchise, yet it does everything possible to turn us into the KC Royals of New York. Through luxury taxes, it instituted a de facto salary cap. Though signing bonus caps, it destroyed the competitive advantage of big markets. Next up is an international draft, which was our last opportunity to outspend the Brewers and Padres. The Yankee "Baby Bombers" will get a lot of attention this winter, but we're a Tommy John and a Kevin Maas from mediocrity through 2020 - a multi-year barf reminiscent of the 1980s - which was hardly the sport's golden age of popularity.

Of course, no one atop MLB will do anything about the Yankee malaise, aside from celebrating it. When George Steinbrenner died, so did the urgency to win. Hal pays lip-service to "contending" every season, but that's basically a factor of the additional Wild Card slot, which means anybody over .500 stays in the race through mid-September. Without an Evil Empire, the cheapskate owners get to keep their free agents and their tax breaks, too. Only problem: Come October, we watch the big series between - gulp - Cleveland and Toronto.

Of course, baseball will do well this month in the big markets of Cleveland and Toronto. Damn, I'd hate to be the Cleveland Browns or the Argonauts; good luck generating newsprint. But will fans watch in Texas? Do they hate the Indians, because of the racial implications of their name? Do they root against the Blue Jays because Bautista flips his bat. My guess: They'll tune into the last innings of the seventh game - that is, unless they're binging on Luke Cage.

The NFL's tanked ratings may or may not continue, but you better believe that, come January, the league will have one big advantage. The Cowboys and Patriots will make the playoffs, and everybody loves or hates them. The reason, of course, is Jerry Jones and Bill Belichik - an owner and coach who stops at nothing - even cheats - to win every year. The Yankees were once baseball's version of this. So yes, baseball could have had an opening: this fall. Unfortunately, it closed.


John M said...

I think the NFL's prime days are behind it at this point. But it will take a while before it slides to where it belongs, although at 10% a season, that might not be a long while.

It's only a matter of time before baseball regains its top slot. Baseball always has done well during dark days like the 1930s and 1970s, and you have to think what we're seeing these days is pretty dark. Maybe it's comfort food for the sofa-bound, I dunno.

Might be a good time for A-Rod to fund a four or six team Strippers 'n' Babes softball league or something. Nothing more American than baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and silicone.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

(Note: Some folks want to blame all this on Colin Kaepernick's sideline protests - and, yeah, some folks are pissed off, pro or con - but a 10 percent drop? Nope. Personally, I blame the 10-minute delays while booth dorks psychoanalyze every turnover and score....

Now you're in my wheelhouse. I would have made this a full post, but I'm trying to remember ― while pounding my desk, foaming at the mouth ― that this is a Yankees blog.

Here are some things I blame for the NFL's drop in viewership:

    Wide receivers, indistinguishable from ballerinas, who pop up after every incomplete
    pass, facing the refs with their palms open, exasperated looks on their, huffing
    diva faces, looking for an interference call.

    This new nonsense about no helmet hits.

    Rules like "in the grasp".

I don't disagree with many of these rules, but the cumulative effect make the game seem like it's being overseen by a committee of mothers, watching a pickup game with their hands on their hips out on the schoolyard. They have imposed themselves on the action because, "Well, we were just getting too many complaints about a lot of roughness!", and who are now trying to make the otherwise enjoyable sandlot game "fair to everyone". Please boys:

    No taunting! Play nice!

    No excessive celebrating! Don't make him feel bad!

    No hitting certain areas of the body (head, knees, ovaries, etc.)

    Mind yourselves concerning the clutch rule!

    Let's discuss it together! (a.k.a., the aforementioned interminable reviews.)

    We think it would be nice if everyone joined in a breast cancer
    awareness card flip

    Johnny, you're not wearing your pink cleats that we bought for you. All the
    other boys are wearing them!

I also don't like the cut to an extra commercial after a kickoff that has crept into the mix over the past few years. This gives us a sequence of:

    A team scores.


    Kickoff (out the back of the end zone).


    Resume wearing tu-tu's and not hitting each other in the ovaries.

The wise move these days, after a touchdown or field goal, is to go outside and rake some leaves or wash the car. When you come back in, it will only be second down of the next series.

What's depressing is there's little hope for change. The NFL, under Roger Goodell, has become the classic bureaucracy that can't get out of its own way. It will ultimately suffocate under the weight of its own noble but committee-driven intentions, many of which are counter to the basic premise of the game (i.e., push your opponent backwards with all your might and take his territory).

What we have now seems like well-meaning government (a.k.a., schoolyard mothers) who believe that it knows better and that justice can only be applied via a few more new rules ― which we all need to follow, boys and girls, and if there are any arguments, you just let any one of us know that you're having a problem, honey, and we'll discuss it together on the sidelines...

In an overarching attempt to ensure clarity of outcome and fairness to all, the game has morphed into an overly long and boring-to-watch muddle. It shouldn't be surprising that ratings are off by 10%.

Nice job by the NFL yard mothers.


el duque said...

Here's the ultimate hose job (and this did happen to the Giants a couple years ago.)

First and ten at the one: Team scores on plunge up middle.

Four minute both review, score overturned.

Team scores from one inch line.

Four minute booth review, score overturned.

Team scores from one inch line.

Four minute booth review, score is upheld.

Extra point is good.

Two minute commercial break.

Kickoff into end zone is touch back.

Two minute commercial break.

Twenty minutes for an outcome that was dull and never in jeopardy.

And they blame Kaepernick?

Mustang said...

I wonder how much the decline of cable TV has to do with it. I have a Roku, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, meaning I'm never in any danger of seeing football.

KD said...

Baseball, as slow as it can be at times, is only interrupted between innings. I enjoyed the NFL in the 70s but they've destroyed the pace of the game. Virtually unwatchable now. Asshole players don't help much either.

Know what else I hate about the NFL? Using higher education as a free farm system. Such a corrupting influence.

KD said...

My idea of fairness for the NFL would be for them to pay a Conference or individual University $2 million for each player developed who turns pro, the money going to academic scholarships for students from low-income situations. No adding the money to the endowment. No salaries covered. No infrastructure or improvements to the physical plant. Just more opportunity for a lot of deserving kids.

Anonymous said...


KD said...

Even for college players that never make pro, the NFL should give these guys $200K or so after their playing days are over. just to cover their wasted time and potentially long-term damage to their bodies. Or better yet, take that money and set up an annuity payable to the ex-player after attaining a certain age and that can be passed down to heirs.

End the NFL free ride for billionaires.

KD said...

and how about the NFL providing heavily subsidized medical insurance to ex-college players for the rest of their lives? Or are we OK with the NFL passing that cost off on society?

KD said...

Oh, but we love the NFL! They gave us Janet Jackson's nipple and Katy Perry riding a big mechanical tiger! And pink shoes because they CARE about women!

I'm done now

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