There are certain members of the media who feel that the playoffs are meaningless if the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox are not in them.
Well, Scott Ferrall disagrees with that.
Was it not meaningful when the Pittsburgh Pirates made the playoffs last year after 20 years of futility – and then came within one game of the NLCS? Would it not be meaningful if the Kansas City Royals (74-58 entering play Aug. 28) made the playoffs this year for the first time since 1985? Would it not be meaningful if the Baltimore Orioles (75-56) made the playoffs – something they’ve done just once since 1997?
“It’d be a great story for the Orioles this year,” MLB Network analyst Elliott Kalb said on Ferrall on the Bench. “When it the last time they won a World Series?”
And what about the Seattle Mariners (72-60)? What if they hold on to the Wild Card and make the playoffs for the first time since 2001?
“It would be a great story for the Mariners,” Kalb said. “It’s a beautiful city, a great town. They never had any success in baseball. Now all of a sudden they’re the Super Bowl champions and their baseball team is doing very well.”
The fact is, there are plenty of great storylines in baseball this season. Derek Jeter’s impending retirement is one of them – heck, it may even be the best one – but there are others.
And guess what? The vast, vast, vast majority of baseball fans do not care one iota about ratings. A Yankees/Red Sox ALCS would be riveting, but so would Mariners/Royals.
“The problem with World Series ratings is there are people, like my mother-in-law, who watch the Yankees every night, but if the Yankees are not in the World Series, she won’t watch the World Series,” Kalb said. “Now, my son will watch the World Series no matter who’s in it – because he’s a baseball fan. But there are a lot of people (who only care about their local team).”
Then again, some local fans don’t even care about that – not in the eyes of Royals manager Ned Yost, anyway. Yost criticized the home faithful following Tuesday’s 2-1 walk-off win over Minnesota, saying that more fans need to come to games. Attendance that night was 13,847, meaning that nearly two-thirds of the stadium was empty.
Granted, when you haven’t made the playoffs since Reagan was in office, it can be difficult to find motivation to shell out cash and get to the ball park. On the flipside, the Royals have a two-and-a-half game lead over Detroit with 30 games remaining. In other words, this could be Kansas City’s year (to at least make the playoffs).
“I thought people were getting on the Royals bandwagon a little early, that the Tigers were going to right themselves,” Kalb said. “Boy, the Royals have not gone away. They have the easiest schedule down the stretch. I still don’t like that lineup. I still don’t think they’re going to hold on. I think Detroit’s going to figure it out with their pitching, and I like their lineup; it’s a deeper lineup. I just like the Tigers.”
“But every week that goes by, the Royals look like they’re going to prove me wrong, don’t they?”