Nationals' strange World Series win might be painful for Orioles fans - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Nationals’ strange World Series win might be painful for Orioles fans

2019 World Series at Nationals Park
Photo Credit: Brad Mills USA Today Sports

In perhaps the strangest World Series in history, the Washington Nationals upset the Houston Astros. Wednesday’s 6-2 Game 7 win ended the only Series in history in which the home team failed to win a game.

Only the first game of the Series was close, and this World Series will be remembered for not only the road-field advantage, but for a controversial call in Game 6 that turned out not to matter in the final result.

The Series also featured many of the top-shelf starters in the game: Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander for Houston and Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin for Washington.

Scherzer’s recovery from his neck injury to deliver a gritty start in Game 7 was inspiring, but Strasburg’s excellent starts in Games 2 and 6 earned him the Most Valuable Player.

The win might be painful for Orioles fans, some of whom did root for the Nationals. Others rooted against them, and many just didn’t care. The enmity between the teams won’t go away. The suit of MASN TV rights is far from settled, and until that day comes, the teams won’t much care for each other.

For older Orioles fans, the Astros’ inability to win a Series in which they were heavily favored will remind them of 1969-1971 when the Orioles won 318 games, played in the Series three times and won only in 1970.

Houston, which won 311 games in the last three seasons, won the World Series in 2017, but lost in the American League Championship Series a year ago.

Ratings down: For the first five games of the Series, television ratings were the lowest in recorded history. That was worrisome because Washington and Houston are the sixth- and seventh-largest television markets in the country.

Ratings increased measurably for the sixth game, and helped by the incessant talk of the umpiring controversy and a Game 7, they were expected to rise markedly on Wednesday.

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Some can blame the length of the games for low ratings. Friday’s brutally long Game 3, in which only five runs were scored but still ended at 12:10 a.m. is a prime example.

East Coast viewers complain about the late end, but a large part of the viewing audience is in the Pacific time zone, which has seven major league teams.

Most West Coast viewers might not be home in time for the games that begin just after 5 p.m. there, though they won’t be falling asleep for games that end at about 9 p.m.

While an earlier start might help East Coast ratings, starting games just after 7, might really hurt ratings out West, but I’d like to give that a shot. In recent years, MLB moved start times to just after 8, but lengthier games have nullified the sleep gain for the east.

The ratings aren’t helped by the absence of teams that are more well-known nationally. A Dodgers-Yankees World Series would be a ratings boon, and having the Red Sox, Cubs or Cardinals helps, too.

It would help if more postseason games were more consistently on Fox, something that apparently will change in 2022 when Fox’s seven-year extension with MLB begins.

Too many postseason games are on FoxSports1, which isn’t on some cable systems. Others are on MLB Network, where even fewer people watch.

While MLB Network is a valuable resource for hard-core fans, it’s not available on many cable systems, particularly in hotels, and casual fans might be unaware of its existence.

TBS, which broadcasts one set of the Division Series and League Championship Series each season, does a fine job, but fans aren’t used to tuning in to the network for baseball. They do cover a weekly game on Sunday beginning after the All-Star Game, but it’s not Fox.

Putting more postseason games on Fox will allow casual fans to get used to watching excellent teams such as the Astros, and even though the Nationals beat two of the most glamorous teams, the Dodgers and Cardinals, in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they still weren’t well-known nationally.

Fun at Nationals Park: Nationals Park has never been one of my favorite venues, but the atmosphere at last weekend’s World Series games might make me change my opinion.

Seeing the enthusiastic Nationals fans dressed in red made the park look lovely and got me thinking about how great Oriole Park would look for a World Series.

We got a preview in 2012 and 2014, but Camden Yards remains one of eight current ballparks that hasn’t had a World Series game. It’s by far the oldest of the eight.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 31, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Lower ratings? It has nothing to do with market size.

    I blame MLB and baseball in general for the lower ratings. What MLB has failed to address is that your fan base is formed when the fans are about 7-9 years of age. And lets face it folks, prime time games are well past this age groups bed time. The sport has now lost 1½ of the latest generations with it’s shortsighted TV revenue driven mindset.

    Get the kids off the soccer and quidditch fields, and they will come.

    • PA Bird Lover

      November 2, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      I’m almost with you entirely, but forget stopping soccer. When I was a kid all of my buddies played soccer. I’m talking late 50’s into the 60’s. My school didn’t have football at that time. My point is soccer didn’t keep us from the WS. Back then our school would put a TV (very small screen) in the auditorium and study hall students could watch. Saturday and Sunday games were always day games. Television and their money is to blame for lost kids. NFL will suffer the same. Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games will jump up and bite them.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        November 3, 2019 at 12:49 pm

        I don’t think football has anything to worry about because of late games. You still have Sunday afternoon for the base schedule. And don’t forget that in addition to the NFL, you have a never ending source of televised games with the college game.

  2. Phil770

    October 31, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Rich, thanks for your insights. I for one am happy for the Nats WS win. I am not a fan of the team or the ball park. Rooting against them doesn’t make the O’s better. I do get miffed at the number of Washington area baseball fans who made a conscious decision NOT to adopt the O’s when they lost the 2nd of the two teams they had. This series did remind me of the of the O’s run of three straight series. 1969 loss was the most painful sports memory ever for me.

    • Hallbe62

      October 31, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      71′ & 79′ were crushing defeats as well. 69′-71′ were great seasons for sure, but a tad bit hollow in going 1 for 3 in the Series.

      It seems the current Astros team might be paralleling those Orioles teams (69′-71′).

      • Phil770

        October 31, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        All post season defeats are crushing. The Nats haven’t been able to get out of the 1st round several times over the past 5 years, with a team viewed by many as better than this one.

  3. GSISDANNO

    October 31, 2019 at 9:42 am

    The Nationals’ championship really has nothing to do with the Orioles. I give them credit. They had a great post-season and it was very entertaining.
    The Orioles need to focus on what we sre doing and ignore the Nationals.
    The ratings for baseball on FOX?? There are a number of reasons. In the baseball post-season, it is very hard to find the games every night. They are all over the place.
    The length of the games should be a concern.
    For me personally, Joe Buck is terrible. He adds nothing to a game. He was so unprepared that he didnt know what to say. It seemed like every two innings he would mention the Nationals were 19-31.
    In the dramatic 9th inning of Game 7, he started talking about the Hot Stove League.
    I am not a Joe Buck fan but maybe he is being spread too thin. Tonight I am sure he will be in Arizona for Thursday Night football.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 31, 2019 at 10:13 am

      Many fans don’t like Joe Buck, Danno. I actually think he does a good job. Yes, he will be doing Thursday Night Football tonight.

    • ClayDal

      October 31, 2019 at 10:58 am

      In the case of Joe Buck, I think it isn’t so much who he is but who he isn’t. For years the voice of the NFL was Pat Summerall. Buck replaced him. For many baseball fans the World Series was Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Vin Scully, Curt Gowdy( I’m old) , Joe Garagiola and Dick Enberg. Joe Buck is okay, but he’s no Vin Scully. But who is?

    • Raymo

      October 31, 2019 at 9:33 pm

      Joe Buck is simply boring and monotonous. Hire Jon Miller, the very best baseball broadcaster alive.

  4. Phil770

    October 31, 2019 at 10:44 am

    I agree, plus, who would you rather have that everyone does like?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 31, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Jim Palmer … Bob Uecker .. Jon Miller to name but a few.

      Heck I’d take Gary Thorne over Buck’s unoriginal, coat-tail-riding, egocentric, sycophantic, high-road-walking, hair-plug-sporting, straight laced, humorless act.

      • Phil770

        October 31, 2019 at 12:16 pm

        I agree that Miller would be better than Buck, Palmer as an analyst I would prefer to Smoltz. My point is now who you or I would like, no one will be liked by everyone. It is certainly possible that contracts of Miller, Thorn and Uecker prevent them from being on Fox. Buck is fine, but he is not in the same zip code as any of the other, better announcers that I like.

  5. Orial

    October 31, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I too Rich don’t mind Joe Buck. Then again I liked Howard Cosell. 240 TV stations,NETFLIX/Amazon also contribute to the viewership spanning widely. 10 year olds don’t care,their fathers don’t care. Unless you live in that particular city baseball apathy rules. Oldtimers(like myself) complain too much to enjoy modern baseball. So unless they can find a way to eliminate viewership to 6-7 TV stations this is what it will be.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 31, 2019 at 11:42 am

      Loved Cosell. Monday Night Football has never been the same. Nothing wrong with liking Cosell.

  6. willmiranda

    October 31, 2019 at 10:53 am

    I guess I fit the TV demographic. I wasn’t much interested in either team. I ignored the first several games and watched the last ones intermittently while other programs were in commercial. I did, as you surmised, peak on Wednesday,perhaps for a total of 2 innings, turning off the TV after the fifth inning. As a senior citizen, I’ve narrowed my interest in spectator sports, still following the teams of my youth, but not paying much attention otherwise. Why? Too many teams, too many players, too many transfers of players. Even too many leagues. This week we have baseball, football, hockey, and basketball. I think the NBA is the worst for moving players, especially with the smallest number in the starting lineup. What makes a team anymore? As a child, I identified individual players with the team and chose teams to root for because of the standout players. Over the years, I had the feeling that the players were as connected to the team as I was, once a reasonable feeling but now an irrational one. I hope I don’t sound too cranky or bitter because I’m not. Just trying to explain why at least a few of the people ignoring a championship played by two teams of unknown players who may be elsewhere by their next game.

  7. bv22

    October 31, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I consider myself a fan of the sport so I always try to tune into the World Series, regardless of who’s playing. Since having kids a few years ago, though, it’s gotten harder to watch the games. By the time I can sit down and watch the game, it’s 9PM and then I typically conk out by 10 or 10:30. Then, there’s that whole pesky having to go to work thing. I made it to 11PM last night for game 7, but was half with it at that point and just decided to go to bed rather than watch the end of the game. They seriously need to consider starting the games earlier or moving a majority of them to the weekend (Thurs – Sun). Commercial breaks also need to be reduced considerably to shorten up the time. I remember attending the 2014 playoff games at OPACY and there were a lot of dead times between innings due to commercial breaks for the broadcast that weren’t normally there during the season. That seriously needs to change to reduce air time of the games.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    October 31, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Ah, the doom and gloom. If the ratings were down and Major League Baseball needed a few less leaf rakes to pick up the money they are still swimming in, my sympathy is with held. Why MLB is so afraid of it’s big scary pigskin tossing competition, whose hold on the national imagination is weaker than it’s been in a long time, that it won’t schedule one World Series game for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon eludes me (Nevermind, I know, Joe Buck is why. Major League Baseball isn’t in charge, FOX is). I, for one am happy the Nationals won. Maybe now the Baltimore Orioles will realize they are like any other business and have to compete for market share, a competition they are currently being crushed in. No more “yeah, we are horrible, but it’s because it’s not fair and we’re poor. Here’s a 20 year old Highlight of 2131, that beer will be $9.25, thanks” That being said, it’s time for us to accept a few things:

    o MLB is not speeding up the game. They are incapable of doing so. It is what it is at this point.

    o The commercials generate the TV revenue, the rock upon which the 21st century sports church is built. Good luck convincing the networks and the owners to take a pay cut.

    o The Washington Nationals are now the pre-eminent baseball franchise from the Mason Dixon line to the Carolinas. Grainy video of Brooks and Wild Bill Hagy ain’t gonna cut it. Those 7-9 year olds Boog described? They are all getting a Juan Soto jersey for Christmas. Put a top-notch product on the field, and soon Mr. Elias, or this team will not survive.

    P.S. Those of you who took the sage advice of the all-seeing, all knowing ‘Stache and put bets down on Washington in 7 and Strasburg winning MVP, just stick the check in mail slot

  9. Le Merlu

    October 31, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    As for me, the length of the games (and not one of them went to extra innings) was tiresome. I woke up at 3 AM (the price you have to pay, living in Eastern Europe) and took a nap after a game before going to work. I really could use another 20 minutes of sleep, you know.

  10. Hallbe62

    October 31, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    I don’t like our neighbors much but will give kudos where they are deserved.

    Nice season Gnats. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    I do wonder if their payroll (already 4th in mlb) will rise in an effort to repeat, further exasperating the MASN dispute.

    • Raymo

      October 31, 2019 at 9:47 pm

      It’s unlikely that the aging stars on the oldest team in MLB would be able to repeat, especially if they lose Rendon and/or Strasburg.

      • Hallbe62

        October 31, 2019 at 10:58 pm

        Yeah…..don’t follow the Nats at all (other than what I can find on the MASN dispute). I had no idea they were the oldest team in MLB.

        I just thought they would be “all in” (which implies further spending increases) on a repeat.

  11. garyintheloo

    October 31, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    The venom of Orioles vs. Nationals fans is tiring. Congrats Nats on a great postseason run and championship! Why all the vitriol about Washington area fans not supporting the Os? The Oriole blog sites get comments from all over the world. If you want better attendance and revenues locally try playing better baseball. I do agree the ratings and future would be better with weekend afternoon playoff games because your young audiences have too many other distractions. We rarely had more than two options. If you look around how many highway drivers are paying attention? I think we are victims of visual overload so enjoy the off season and hope for (gulp) 70 wins next year.

  12. whiterose

    October 31, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Your lack of response confirms my belief that the lease on OPACY will not be renewed. Or at least that you know something.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 31, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      The lack of a response is because I
      find the speculation of the team moving to be laughable.

      • Phil770

        October 31, 2019 at 5:57 pm

        Great answer, Rich. Angelos family is not the sole owner of the O’s. The minority partners are from Balto.; John A has stated as clearly as he can that the O’s will never move. The ownership team wants the O’s to stay in Baltimore.

  13. afterp

    October 31, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Isn’t part of the Nats argument in the MASN dispute that the lower payout for TV rights puts them at a competitive disadvantage? Pretty sure last night should put that argument to rest – had to argue that you can’t compete when you win it all.

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 31, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      On the flip side of that, how does the team that brings in the Lion’s share of MASN deal money constantly cry poor, but the team getting ripped off manage to sign the best pitcher on the planet? Somebody is bulls***ing us here, and I have a hunch they didn’t drink any champagne last night.

  14. Phil770

    October 31, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    It is fair to conclude that the MASN dispute is an important part of why fans of one team may not root for the other, but there is a lot that fans don’t know about the facts of the dispute. MLB brokered a deal with a torts attorney. The dispute is around contract language and interpretation. I think MLB and Nats think O’s should honor the spirit of the deal; O’s want the letter of the deal satisfied. Still happy for Nats and Nats fans for their WS win

  15. WorldlyView

    October 31, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Any Oriole fan who begrudges the Nationals’ incredible progression from wild card play-in team to world champions is a sour-grapes meanie. I can’t believe that any World Series has had nearly so many fascinating story lines–no home team wins; Juan Soto starting out the 2018 season in single A ball (Hagerstown); the late inning comebacks in elimination games; the Nationals beating the two winningest teams in MLB; the Strasburg-Scherzer heroics; their lousy start to the season, etc.
    Memo to O’s management: sign Rendon as a FA. Memo to O’s ownership: learn from the hands-off Lerner family who has consistently hired good GMs.
    Finally, let me add my disdain for Joe Buck’s performance. An earlier posting said “didn’t know what to say.” Well, that didn’t stop him from saying way, way too much about mostly marginal stuff–to the point that I frequently pressed the mute button to give my ears a rest.

    • ClayDal

      October 31, 2019 at 7:00 pm

      Put yourself in Anthony Rendon’s shoes. You just won the World Series. Parade to follow. You are about to enter free agency for the first time and you are expecting teams to offer you in excess of 200 million dollars. Do you really think the prospect of committing long term to the 54-108 Orioles, playing before half the fans that the Nationals draw, is going to appeal to him? Until the Orioles start winning again, going to be impossible to attract top free agents

  16. WorldlyView

    October 31, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I fully agree. Suggestion about signing him was done with tongue in cheek. However, we could sign some good, less-than-top free agents if enough money was waved at them. When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

  17. Frank Howard LF-1B

    October 31, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    Washington Nationals World Champions … all future Orioles vs. Nationals series will be supercharged affairs! The rivalry more bitter than ever. Puts pressure on Orioles franchise to get its act together. This was an EXCELLENT event for pro baseball in DC-MD-VA area.

  18. TxBirdFan

    October 31, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    On the enjoyment scale I really liked this series. Good pitching, timely hitting, good defenses, and a little attitude without any beanballs or punches thrown. Both teams represented themselves very well. Congrats to both.

  19. Beetlejuice

    November 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    I certainly hope it’s painful for those O’s fans who opposed the Expos move to DC. As a young kid we’d make the drive to Memorial Stadium once a year. Once we got past the inner harbor I’d start asking my parent questions like “What does check cashing mean? Why are there so many liquor stores?” They would respond with, “Lock your doors”.

    Then MLB allowed Camden Yards to be built to capitalize off of DC fans. DC has been without a team for decades because of Baltimore greed. I hope MLB sticks it hard to the Os for breaking the settlement agreement and initiating a lawsuit. That includes docking draft picks and fines and no all star game. And when old man Angelos croaks (I’m thrilled he saw the Nationals win it all) his sons should be forced to sell the team.

    • ClayDal

      November 2, 2019 at 3:24 pm

      No liquor stores in DC? Wasn’t aware of that. MLB allowed Camden Yards to be built? That’s a surprise to the taxpayers of Maryland who payed for it. The Senators left DC in 1971, Angelos took over the Orioles in 1994. So for 23 years he had nothing to do with putting a team in DC. And nobody broke any settlement. The Orioles appealed an arbitration ruling on the grounds that MLB was biased and used the wrong formula. The Orioles won the first appeal, then it went back to arbitration and they lost again. As far as the All Star game, there hasn’t been one in Baltimore since 1993, the year before Angelos took over. If you are this angry after the World Series, what will happen in 4 years when the Nationals start their rebuild?

      • Phil770

        November 2, 2019 at 5:48 pm

        Thanks, ClayDal for setting the record straight. Another uninformed view of of Baltimore baseball tradition. The impetus for Camden Yards was the midnight move of the Colts, to avoid the same fate that the DC had suffered with its baseball. Balto had already lost the Bullets to DC and the Caps coming eliminated AHL hockey from Balto. I remember going to Griffiths Stadium in DC as a boy, even Memorial Stadium was a palace. There is a reason DC lost its teams.

      • Hallbe62

        November 5, 2019 at 10:24 am

        Great answer ClayDal.

    • ClayDal

      November 2, 2019 at 6:24 pm

      And don’t forget the Orioles owner who signed the 30 year lease at Camden Yards was Edward Bennett Williams, who was about as Washington as they come

    • whiterose

      November 2, 2019 at 10:31 pm

      you ÷=/<&%$, it is the Nats that are breaking the contract

    • whiterose

      November 2, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      dont know what happened to my previous attempt.
      but it is the Nats that are breaking the contract.

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