Re: Joe Poz: The New Paradigm
I have been thinking about the different directions MLB's centerpiece, the World Series, and the NFL's centerpiece, the Super Bowl, have taken over the last 15 years or so. Not just in ratings, but in the quality of the game or games.
A truly great World Series is a seven game World Series, one that goes as close as possible to the final at bat before it is decided, as tension builds and fans anxiously wait to see who wins. A truly great Super Bowl goes as close as possible to the final minute, the final second, as tension builds and fans anxiously wait to see who wins.
Baseball had enjoyed a string of terrific seven game World Series in the 15 years prior to the Super Bowl, as seven game series were played in 1952 (a terrific duel between the Yankees and Dodgers), 1955 (the Dodgers finally won), 1956 (Yankees revenge and with a perfect game), 1957 (Braves win), 1958 (Yankees avenge Braves defeat), 1960 (Maz wins with HR in final at bat), 1962 (if only McCovey had hit the ball three feet higher), 1964 (Gibson's great effort)) and 1965 (Koufax's masterpiece on two days rest).
The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, but for the first several decades most of the Super Bowls were blow outs. Only Super Bowl V (the "Blunder Bowl") Super Bowls X and XII (Steelers over Cowboys both times), along with arguably the Steelers over the Rams in 1980, and the Redskins over the Dolphins in 1983 were truly close games in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile MLB kept putting out terrific seven game World Series: 1967 (Gibson again), 1968 (Lolich best Gibson), 1971 (Clemente), 1972 (broke my heart but a terrific series), 1973 and the supreme 1975 World Series. These were followed by seven game series in 1979 (We Are Family), 1982, 1985 and 1986.
The NFL finally enjoyed a magnificent Super Bowl when the Giants defeated the Bills 20-19 in 1991. MLB came right back with a terrific seven game series in 1991 between the Twins and Jack Morris against the Braves.
Then a third round of playoffs with the wild card was added to MLB in 1994. 1994 obviously didn't produce a seven game World Series. We did get seven game series in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2011, and all were classics, but otherwise we have generally had a run of largely forgettable four and five game World Series quickly forgotten by all but the fans of the victors.
The NFL however has suddenly started producing one terrific heart stopping Super Bowl after another: Beginning with the Broncos-Packers and the Rams-Titans Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999, all five of the Patriots Super Bowls (including two losses to the Giants), the Steelers-Cardinals, the Saints-Colts and the Packers-Steelers Super Bowls, more often than not, over the last 15 years the Super Bowl has been a down to the final second thrill ride.
Has the additional round of playoffs in MLB adversely affected the drama of the World Series? Darned if I know--but for the most part we have had a forgettable run of World Series for the last 15 years or so.
"Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."