On the one hand, the story of the plucky Kansas City Royals is something that could’ve been written for a family friendly baseball movie — a team that has toiled in purgatory for nearly 30 years winds up riding a wave of great fortune all the way to the World Series — but it’s hard to say if anyone would actually go to see it in theaters. One thing’s for sure, not many people are inclined to check it out in real life, as the first game of the series was the least watched in recorded MLB history, at least as far as broadcasted games are concerned, tying the 2012 World Series which featured similar-sized sports powerhouses (and the San Francisco Giants).
As noted in that Variety article, over 12% of the viewers that did manage to tune in were residents of either one team’s hometown or another, with nearly half of all homes in Kansas City tuning in and almost a third of viewers from the Bay Area, but that just underscores how residency centric these games have become, particularly compared to the ratings of the Red Sox/Cardinals. You could say that there aren’t many teams that inspire more impassioned feelings in all of baseball than those teams — since everyone loves to hate St. Louis and Boston, and their fans are certainly fanatical, but is that the only way anyone is going to be bothered to watch the World Series?
Baseball is commonly noted as one sport that seems entirely out of place in the modern era, and the contrast between the deliberate slowness of America’s pastime and the twitchy excitement of newer sports and distractions has become so regular that it’s nearly beyond cliche. Instead of going down that route, which is probably not incorrect, but doesn’t cover the entire picture, we’d like to posit that a World Series between two decidedly ‘meh’ teams that aren’t popularly associated with much of anything is a hard thing to dedicate viewership to, particularly for baseball fans who are indifferent to both franchises.
There was a lot of talk about the ESPN article designating these games “The Worst World Series ever,” a fact that came from the notion that both of these teams were barely over .500 by the end of the long regular season, and in a twist on the idea that the extended season was supposed to be the ultimate tool of separating the wheat from the chaff, or at least the good teams from the not so good teams. Instead, two overwhelmingly average teams, at least as far as records are concerned, made it all the way to baseball’s biggest stage.
Is there any surprise, then, that no one particularly cares? Close-to-former Commissioner Bud Selig has made a career out of insisting that baseball is bigger than ever, but that’s in the aggregate, not a statement that protects even something as big as the World Series from the collective lack of enthusiasm on behalf of the majority of the league’s fans.