Game 4 of the World Series was a winner where it counts for Major League Baseball — with viewers. MLB beat the NFL 10.1 percent to 8.2 percent, according to Bloomberg.com; of course, it helped that New Orleans’ 62-7 whipping of Indianapolis was as unwatchable as it was one-sided.
The Series will need better than the Rangers’ perfunctory 4-0 Game 4 win in Game 5 tonight to repeat its ratings triumph. Tied 2-2, the Series may still have drama in the eventual outcome, but the last two games have lacked all that the first two games offered.
The intrigue left Sunday with Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson, who walked seven in 5.1 innings but departed with only a 1-0 deficit. Mike Napoli hit Mitchell Boggs’ first pitch for a three-run homer, Derek Holland’s shutout twin overpowered his gopher ball twin (it was the eighth start this year Holland has allowed no earned runs; in nine others he’s allowed six runs or more) and Neftali Feliz failed to manufacture drama in the ninth, if not for a lack of trying.
Napoli was one of the most-traveled and least-appreciated players of the last off-season. The Blue Jays were shrewd enough to pry him from the Angeles for Vernon Wells’ huge contract, clueless enough to lose him for 50.2 innings of Frank Francisco and cash. For the Jays’ sake, we hope they’re still counting the money.
Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia sullied his reputation with many Angels’ fans by catching Jeff Mathis, a career .194 hitter, over Napoli. As Buddy Ryan might say of Napoli, all he does is hit home runs. (And he walks a bit, too).
Napoli hit a career-high 30 home runs this year in 369 at-bats. Jose Bautista led MLB with a home run every 11.9 at-bats; Napoli had one every 12.3 (for the record, Prince Fielder led the National League with a home run every 15 at-bats; Napoli averaged one in every 14.4 plate appearances).
Scioscia never liked Napoli’s defense, and it’s not great. But who cares how he catches the ball if he hits enough three-run homers? (Scioscia might be interested to know Napoli had one passed ball in 61 games this year and threw out a career-high 36.4% of base-stealers — that’s 7.2% more than his opposite number, Gold Glover Yadier Molina. Napoli’s number was probably greatly helped by the Rangers’ three left-handed starters; his career total is still only 24.9%, although even that’s higher than Mathis’ career 23.6%. Care to explain, Mr. Scioscia?)
Game 5 reprises Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson; Monday Night Football offers Baltimore and Jacksonville, the latter a team often not watched by many of its own fans. Forget whether the Cardinals or Rangers win Game 5; let’s see if MLB does.