Friday, October 29, 2010

Champions for drab times

Here in San Francisco, baseball fans -- and their fair-weather relatives like me -- are having a high old time taking in the World Series. Sometimes literally, as this Texas reporter discovered.

The Giants are an endearing assemblage of little known characters, fresh faces and has-beens, and they are looking very sharp after winning the first two games.

The city's excitement reminds this San Franciscan of the football 49er's glory days in the 1980s. Times were hard for progressives: the odious Ronald Reagan was remaking the country in his lazy, plutocratic way, smashing up little countries around the world that had other ideas, crushing hope for poor and brown people. But we loved our conquering Super Bowl-winning heroes to ease some of the pain.

We love our Giants now, as we approach an election when the country seems all too ready to turn once again toward reaction. But these guys aren't so much in the hero mold; they are more work-a-day journeymen, getting it done. Probably that's more attuned to the time than larger-than-life champions would be. It's in the style of our ever-so cautious, ever-so pragmatic President. Two years of his style have seemed to offer no more than a platter of stasis and further decay, but the story isn't over til the last pitch, so assessments remain premature.
***
Why isn't the rest of the country watching the Giants-Rangers? Here's an explanation that says a lot about the country's discontents, not only as they relate to baseball.

Truth is, the ratings for this Series will be bad. Much of the country will not watch, but it's not America's fault. It's the networks' fault for creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.

They spend all summer ignoring the 25 teams that are not in New York, Boston and Los Angeles, so fans around the country never learn about them. Fans in the Northeast or Midwest or Southern California have have no investment in watching teams they never see. They don't know the players or the storylines. So why would they watch?

Compounding that is the absolute East Coast point of view that flooded the earlier rounds of the playoffs. If you looked on ESPN.com or even listened to the Fox broadcast, the Giants were not up 3-1 after four games of the NLCS. The Phillies were down 3-1. The same was true in the Yankees-Rangers ALCS.

If Fox gets hammered by low ratings in this Series, which will cost them big advertising bucks, it has nobody to blame but itself and its broadcast buddies at TBS and ESPN.

1 comment:

The Mom Chef said...

You're right. I had no idea that the Giants had made it into the Series. I did, on the other hand know that Singletary is bombing as head coach of the 49ers this year despite my fervent wishes for him to succeed (being a diehard Bears fan and all).

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