Nuke LaLoosh Probably Watched This World Series. Even If Others Didn’t.

It’s very easy to overthink events in sports, especially when you have the kind of impassioned fandom that the team at represents.  We can and do write a lot and aren’t afraid to share our opinions and biases, no matter how weird or unjustified they may be.

But sometimes brevity and succinctness is a far more appropriate reaction, and one that the 2023 World Series merits.  The inimitable Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, better known as Nuke, perhaps summed it up best when he described the game of baseball he had played longer than many of his Durham Bulls teammates were capable of speaking at all:

This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

There are some extremely simple reasons why, for the first time in the 62-year history of a Texas Rangers franchise that began as the second incarnation of baseball’s most notorious perennial losers, the Washington Senators, are World Series champions.

They spent an awful lot of money on free agent middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.  As CNN’s David Close reported last night, both earned their keep in Game 5 alone:

Seager, famed for his clutch World Series performances, broke up the no-hitter in the seventh, and two batters later, Mitch Garver’s single scored Seager for the game’s first run.  Seager led the way throughout the series for Texas. He was named series MVP, becoming just the fourth player ever to win two World Series MVP awards. Seager, who won his other award in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit three home runs in this series, the most by a shortstop in a Fall Classic. He now has 19 playoff home runs, second most for a shortstop in postseason history, one behind Derek Jeter’s 20.

The Rangers then pounced on Arizona in the ninth inning, scoring four more runs – highlighted by a monster Marcus Semien 2-run home run off Paul Sewald deep to center field for an unsurmountable 5-0 lead.

They made the right call in bringing back veteran Bruce Bochy to manage this year’s team.  They signed veteran Jon Gray at the same time that they broke the bank for Seager and Semien, and his Game 3 rescuing of the injured mid-season pickup Max Scherzer helped the Rangers avoid potential disaster and set them straight on a course that led to them sweeping the D-Backs in the own rapidly decaying ballpark.  They won all 11 road games–a first for any MLB post-season–a full 85% of the 13 they needed to win.  They found a true stopper in Nathan Eovaldi, the first starting pitcher to win five post-season games in baseball history.  And they laughed at the loss of both Scherzer and star outfielder Adolis Garcia in Game 3 with the kind of performances we’ve just noted.

Now the bad news.  A lot fewer people than ever noticed or seemed to care.

As THE NEW YORK POST’s Jared Schwartz lamented this morning, the unhappiest people outside of Phoenix may happen to work for FOX:

If a home run falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

MLB finds itself facing that question.

This year’s World Series between the Rangers and Diamondbacks — the Rangers claimed the franchise’s first title Wednesday night in a Game 5 that began as a nailbiter of a pitchers’ duel and became a coronation — has been the least-watched in MLB history, renewing concerns about the league’s ability to market itself to a broad audience.

Game 1, which was a thrilling 6-5 win by the Rangers in 11 innings, averaged just 9.35 million viewers, according to ESPN, making it the least-watched World Series opener ever. The previous low for a Game 1 was 9.48 million during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

MLB kept making history for the wrong reasons. Game 2 averaged just 8.15 million viewers, the least-watched World Series game on record, according to Front Office Sports. But that record was quickly broken, as Game 3 averaged 8.13 million viewers, becoming the new least-watched World Series game ever. Game 4? Merely the fourth-fewest viewers on record.

And I highly doubt Game 5 did appreciably better.

I actually tried to debate the pessimism that many offered up before this, particularly in light of some impressive year/year gains that the two league championship series offered up, both of which went to their full seven games with both being decided by road sweeps by the wild card upstarts.  I even tried to offer up the logic that Schwartz postulated–that Dallas is a top 5 market, Phoenix is in the Top 15, and it was the first time in more than a decade that either team was even in a World Series.

But these are both football markets, and despite the fact that the Cowboys haven’t won an NFL title this century, and the Cardinals have never won one in their 90-year history spread across three different homes, they rule.  Period.

I should have known better.  I’ve seen more than enough local ratings over the years to know exactly the level of credibility and relevance gaps these franchises have in their own markets.  And even if some of their players are among the best and brightest young stars in the game, they aren’t exactly the most popular names outside of them.

All of the warning signs were out there ready to be appreciated fully,  But, nope, I overthought it.

So that big ol’ tree in the forest is probably a lot quieter than I would have preferred to think.  I’ll tip my own hat, far less than ten gallons, to the Rangers.  Whether or not as many others has they may deserve will is debatable.

Or not.  After all, its a simple game.  Right, Nuke?


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