That trick never works.
A lackluster Thursday Night Football matchup led to the smallest audience for the midweek game in four years. ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud and TNT’s NBA playoff game were close on the NFL Network’s heels.
The Miami Dolphins’ 31-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars averaged 5.43 million viewers on the NFL Network. That’s the lowest tally for a Thursday game since an October 2016 contest (also involving the Jaguars) drew 5.1 million viewers.
While the NFL game still topped the primetime in both total viewers and adults 18-49, it was a close call. Celebrity Family Feud began its fall run on ABC with 5.26 million viewers, on par with its summer average (as was its 0.7 rating among adults 18-49). TNT’s telecast of the NBA Western Conference finals scored a 1.87 in the 18-49 demographic, just a few hundredths of a point behind Thursday Night Football’s 1.9.
On cable, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight (4.71 million viewers) and Hannity (4.51 million), along with TNT’s NBA game (4.6 million), all finished within shouting distance of the NFL.
Bold mine, indicating what I think is the real takeaway here: the NFL—despite a trivial dip in actual viewership; despite having insulted their fans grievously and gratuitously, over and over again; despite everything—still won the time slot, and still drew millions of viewers.
I dunno, but all that doesn’t exactly add up to cause for a whole lot in the way of gloating over the NFL’s imminent “demise,” seems to me. Via Ace, whose mileage definitely varies on this.
But whatevs. After having been an avid Cowboys fan my whole life previously, I haven’t watched an NFL game since the mid-80s and no longer give a damn about the game at all. They can do whatever they like; I haven’t missed them, and I won’t be coming back.
What I DO miss sometimes, though, is baseball. Last night, I had a coincidental conversation with my cousin that helps to explain why. The video below also goes back to the 80s—1988, to be exact—and it’s a perfect recounting of one of those absolutely magical baseball moments, one that I’ll never, ever forget.
Now, having been a blood-and-guts Braves fan first, last, and forever, I gave not a single shit about either the Dodgers or the Fuckin’ A’s. But I did still watch the playoff series faithfully every year, National League of course (because the designated-hitter is the bunk), and then the World Series after. If I didn’t happen to be near a TV, I would listen on radio—usually in the truck, while I was working. So of course I was watching this one.
Game 1 was a late-nighter for us East Coasters, being played out West and all. So even though I had to be bright eyed and bushy tailed next morning at 5 to go to work, I stayed up into the wee hours to watch this one. And boy, was my dedication ever rewarded.
I mean, come ON, man. So many great baseball names here, names that will light up the major-league firmanent until the skies are rent asunder and Earth’s atmosphere boils off and away: LaSorda. LaRussa. Gibson. Eckersley. Canseco, McGwire. Sax, Scioscia, Hershiser. Pena. And of course, the immortal Vin Scully up in the booth, calling the play-by-play as only he could. I ask you, what’s not to love here?
The Fuckin’ A’s were baseball’s unquestioned powerhouse during the 80s. They seemed to make the Fall Classic every danged year, and usually won, too. In marked contrast, Tom LaSorda’s Dodgers were baseball’s lovable losers, a rag-tag bunch that nobody expected to so much as take the NL pennant, much less the Series. Hell, no way those poor victims would even be on the same field as the almighty A’s. The general assumption was an A’s sweep, a lopsided one too, with the Dodgers being taught an important lesson about daring to challenge one’s obvious superiors.
But then the near-crippled Gibson hobbled up from the on-deck circle—on not one but TWO injured legs—to take his stance at the plate. The absolute last man available on the Dodger bench to pinch-hit, he doggedly battled Eckersley to a full count, staying alive by contemptuously swatting fouls off, waiting for his pitch.
And then, with one incredible, unlooked-for swing of the bat, Kirk Gibson wrote himself into baseball legend forever.
It was said that the A’s were so badly demoralized by the shock that they just couldn’t get over it; certainly, the dazed expressions in the video tell their own story. In any event, rather than easily dominating the sad-sack Dodgers as expected by one and all, the A’s instead wound up folding like a cheap accordion. The lowly Dodgers vanquished them in only five games.
It was the come-from-behind, underdog-makes-good story of all time. And it was one of those things that happen nowhere else but baseball. As Scully so perfectly summed up: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened…the only question was, could he make it around the basepath unassisted.”
When I saw Gibson’s storybook shot happen, I came up out of my easy chair with a yell so sharp and loud that my girlfriend came running out of the bedroom where she’d been fast asleep, sheer panic all over her face, thinking the house was on fire or something. Even today, I get a little choked up watching Gibson make his painful trip around the bases, joyously pumping his arms with the wonder of what he’d just done.
It’s exactly what every towheaded kid out in the backyard by himself, tossing a ball high into the air and catching it in his glove, is dreaming of. You just can’t GET more all-American than that, folks.
Yep, I DO miss baseball sometimes. Yet another thing political correctness has stolen from me, and from us all.
The essence of sport.
I was born and bred in L.A. My home was within five or so miles from Chavez Ravine and my friends and I would ride our bikes over there to keep tabs on the construction of Dodger Stadium. I went to games whenever I could.
I saw Drysdale, Koufax, Snyder, Wally Moon, all the greats. Saw Koufax throw a no-hitter against the Pirates from the left field bleachers.
Fun fact #1 that almost nobody knows about: The Dodgers played their first two seasons in the L.A. Colosseum while DS was being built. Saw them there. First MLB games I ever went to.
Fun fact #2 that almost nobody knows about: The blueprints for the structure DIDN’T INLUDE DRINKING FOUNTAINS!!! The local Mexicans made a fucking fortune selling water by the side of the road to the incoming fans (the summers in L.A. last well into October and they get into the triple digits all the time).
I bleed Dodge Blue and nobody is more distressed at the political turn of baseball than I am.
An absolute classic moment in a thoroughly American game.
Watching a game today, it is creepy to have no one in the stands, and even creepier to listen to the piped in crowd noise and seeing no one there.
There are three things that make Baseball Unique.
One. No time limit. They play until someone wins. I watched the Mets-Houston Playoff game in 1986 that went 20 innings.
Two. The cat and mouse game of the Pitcher and Batter dueling it out. Technically it is possible for only the pitcher and the Catcher to ever touch the ball on defense.
Three. The excitement is most often delivered by the crowds at the game. It builds as the innings build. The tension swells as the crowd begin to yell and grows to a cacophony as the game goes on.
Like this game here, the crowd’s reaction was as much a part of the moment as anything else.
I sincerely hope we can fix Baseball along with this Country.
Once the pozz takes hold, the institution is dead and beyond salvage.