There is much angst in Footballville. The ratings for the National Football League are down.
Donald Trump has a theory. When it comes to watching people beat the snot out of each other for no good reason, the NFL is second to politics. Why watch football when you can just turn on the news?
Others have theorized that protests for racial justice have turned the average NFL fan off.
“I don’t know much about ratings and how they are affected and all of those things,” Colin Kaepernick told the Sacramento Bee. “But I don’t understand why ratings would go down, fighting for justice for people, to try to stop oppression, especially in a league that is predominantly black.”
We shall leave that entire question — what’s wrong with the NFL — to the people who consider it a bug, not a feature.
Instead, we will point to the half-full side of politics and sports and note — as Mike Lupica did today on Sports on Earth — that the ratings for the World Series are up substantially. And he
blames credits politics for baseball’s newfound popularity.
No one in their right mind would ever suggest that the ratings for this World Series and the appeal of this World Series matter to the future of the country the way this campaign does, as much as this hideous campaign has diminished our country’s standing around the world.
It was Jacques Barzun who once wrote, and famously, that “whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.” And that was always such a fine sentiment for those of us who love baseball, even if the country is a million times more complicated than that. But you know what? I’m fine with old Barzun right now.
This World Series, however it plays out this week at The Jake (yeah, I’m going to keep calling it that), isn’t going to bring the country together the way the U.S. hockey team did in Lake Placid in 1980.
The country isn’t getting behind one team, or the other, even though there is probably more of it rooting for the Cubs simply because their waiting has been longer in Chicago; because they are more of the darlings in this throwback Series.
But you can imagine what kind of darlings the Indians would be outside of their own fan base if they were going up against anybody besides the Cubs, certainly after what happened with the Cavs in June.
Both of these teams, and this one baseball event, provide a wonderful respite, even for a few hours a night, from politics. That is what the World Series does.
That is why it seems so valuable, seems to matter as much as it does.
Seriously, would you rather be talking about Chapman and Miller and Tito and Joe Maddon and Kyle Schwarber, or about Comey and Clinton and Huma and Weiner and emails and Trump, who claimed over the weekend that not only was Hillary Clinton going to open up the borders, she was going to let in “650 million” people, which you have to say would be some trick in a country that only has half of that now?
Game 6 of the World Series is tonight and, if you believe the national media, there’ll be a Game 7 Wednesday night. And then, that’ll be it for baseball. It will disappear during the months of darkness, surely no coincidence.
The presidential campaign of 2020, however, will begin a week from today.
No doubt, someone will point out in the comments section that a baseball game is too long. Perhaps it’s interfering with something they want to watch on the news.