Lots of folks who live in the so-called “fly-over states” think poorly of what they call the “coastal elites” to the east and to the west of them. Because I cannot get into the mindset(s) of those folks, I choose not to try to consider if their political view(s) are right or wrong. However, when it comes to MLB in 2021, the baseball fans in the heartland need to take a deep breath and focus their attention on those “coastal elite” strongholds.
A quick look at the standings this morning says that the tension/drama left in this year’s MLB season will happen on the coasts.
- In the NL Central, the race has been decided for a while now; the Brewers aare12.5 games ahead of the Cardinals with 15 left to play.
- In the AL Central, the White Sox have an 11.5 game lead with 17 games left on their schedule.
- The AL West has a team in so-called “Middle America”; however, the Astros hold a comfortable 7 game lead with 17 games left.
Here is where MLB’s drama will be:
- In the AL East, the Rays are comfortably in the lead; but as of now, the two wild card teams would come out of the AL East and the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox are in a dead heat.
- In the NL East, the division winner will be either the Braves, Phillies or Mets. Only 5.5 games separate those three teams and only one is likely to make the playoffs.
- In the NL West, the Giants lead the Dodgers by 1.5 games. The Giants have clinched a playoff spot and the Dodgers have clinched at least one of the wild card slots. The Padres are 19.5 games behind the Giants but are in the running for that other wild card position.
Out in the AL West, there is not likely to be much drama; but there is an interesting situation. The Seattle Mariners are a half-game behind the second place Oakland A’s this morning with a record of 78-68. As of this morning, the Mariners’ run differential is minus-65. Compare these stats:
- Mariners are 78-68 (.534) with run differential minus-65.
- A’s are 78-67 (.538) with run differential + 60
- Tigers are 70-76 (.479) with run differential minus-47
- Braves are 76-68 (.528) with run differential + 98
- Marlins are 62-84 (.425) with run differential minus-41
In news from the NBA offseason, John Wall has asked the Houston Rockets to trade him away. Last offseason, Wall and Russell Westbrook were swapped in what was called a blockbuster; it was more like dull thud. Westbrook is gone from the Wizards after one season landing in LA to play with LeBron James for a year or so; now Wall wants out of Houston. So, here is the burning question of the morning:
- How will Houston Rockets’ fans remember and commemorate the John Wall Era?
Wall joins Ben Simmons as a commodity on the “Trade Me Market”. In a way, they are similarly – if not oppositely – flawed. Wall is an offensive-minded player who relies on speed to score; he is not a good outside or mid-range shooter, and his defense is marginal at best. Simmons is a defensive-minded player who is much better amassing assists than he is scoring points. His ability to shoot is embarrassing for someone who has made it to the NBA, but his defensive game is elite.
Obviously, one could draw the conclusion that the Rockets and Sixers should trade Wall for Simmons, and all would be well in the NBA universe. I doubt that will happen, and I am confident that trade would be one where neither team comes out ahead.
Moving on … The numbers are in from the first week of NFL football and the folks who were predicting the decline of the NFL about 5 years ago when ratings temporarily sagged are looking worse than they did last year.
- The opening game last Thursday between the Bucs and the Cowboys drew an audience of 26.5 million viewers. That represents a 19% increase over last season’s opening game.
- [For reference, the TV show with the largest average audience in 2020 was NCIS which drew 15.4 million viewers. In 2020, only 6 programs drew more than 26.5 million viewers. Five of those six were NFL games and the other one was The Masked Singer premiere that aired right after the Super Bowl.]
- Taking Week 1 as a whole, the average audience for the 16 games was 17.4 million viewers which represents a 7% increase over last season.
Since I mentioned “coastal elites” earlier on, let me close with these two observations by Truman Capote:
“In California, everyone goes to a therapist, is a therapist, or is a therapist going to a therapist.”
“It’s a scientific fact that if you stay in California you lose one point of your IQ every year.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………