Monday, January 23, 2006

This Super Bowl shows why Football is so different from Baseball

I love football, I love the NFL. It is great fun to watch the games. However, I love baseball even more. If it wasn't for the gambling aspect, I'm not sure how much football I'd watch. But if there was no gambling on baseball (and there is much less), I'd still watch many games - each night!

I often hear or read that baseball's problem is that the small markets have no chance. But I never hear or read why they should be allowed to have a chance. People point to the difference between the NFL and MLB and say that teams like Seattle and Pittsburgh have a chance, and that's great for the NFL. And MLB should copy that. What they don't get is that these are two completely different animals. One sport plays 16 games a year, and would be completely sold out even if the teams were located in Montana. It isn't that difficult to get 55,000 people into a game once every other week. But it is difficult to get 30,000 people into baseball games 7 days out of the whole week. That's a big difference, and something that the people making these comparisons completely miss.

This Super Bowl matchup - Seattle vs Pittsburgh - pits two teams from small markets. Maybe Seattle is middle-of-the-road now, especially with the a great big company like Microsoft located nearby. But Pittsburgh is definitely one of the smallest markets. What's the guess as to the Super Bowl TV ratings? I think it would be safe to say it will be close to what it was last year, when NE played PHI. That's because people will watch the Super Bowl, throw a party, gamble on it, etc. no matter who is in it. It's only a 4 hour commitment after all. But what if it was the Seattle Mariners vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then it would be a 3.5 commitment for as many as 7 nights - with many of those nights on the weekdays. That's completely different now. A World Series of those two teams would draw the absolute worst ratings ever. So if you were MLB, do you really want that to happen? Of course not, it would be horrific for business. That's the difference between the two sports. If you hear/read anyone else complain that MLB should follow the NFL philosophy, that person is either: an idiot, talking without thinking, or completely biased because they are from one of those small towns themselves.

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