Maybe There Is Some Hope For The Nationals

Mike Bauman over at MLB.com wrote an excellent article last night about the upcoming World Series between the Rays and the Phillies. He called it “Fresh matchup offers must-see baseball.” Here is the general gist of the article:

You hear a lot of talk about “ratings,” as though the game is played primarily to provide successful television programming. This is also definitely not about that and it can be proven.

Ratings took a hit when the Yankees did not reach the postseason. The departure of the Cubs after three games of a Division Series did not help the ratings. The departure of the Dodgers after the NL Championship Series will not help the ratings. The departure of the Red Sox after the AL Championship Series will not help the ratings.

A pattern has emerged here. The biggest-market clubs are not winning. This is not a crisis. This is growing parity. This is increased competitive balance. This is baseball in the new millennium. It is better than it used to be.

Bauman is absolutely right. This World Series is a wake-up call to any team that has been suffering, and any team that has either a small market, or a large market that it has not grown into yet. The Devil Rays have been a small, young expansion team in a large market. This year they exploded, posting 98 wins when they have never won more than 70. Here they are in a World Series. I have NEVER seen Tropicana Field even close to full, and now you can’t get a seat. Washington Nationals take notice!

As I explained in my offseason plan for the Nats, they could be next. Many of the pieces are in place for our local baseball team to charge on to the national scene and compete with teams like the Mets and Phillies. If the Rays can bash heads with the Yankees and Red Sox, and come out on top, then the Nationals can also persevere. In the years to come, others can and will pick up the slack of a weak “big market.” The only question is… who?

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