Monday, November 22, 2010

Five By Five

In light of Jimmie Johnson's fifth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title on Sunday (check out more in my NASCAR blog here), I offer a list of other five-peats throughout the history of major sports.

Just food for thought.

NBA: The Boston Celtics won eight consecutive championships from 1959 to 1966.

NCAA Men's Basketball: Jon Wooden's UCLA team won seven straight NCAA titles from 1967 to 1973.

NHL: The Montreal Canadiens (the New York Yankees of hockey) won five straight championships from 1956 to 1960.

MLB: The New York Yankees (the New York Yankees of baseball) won five straight World Series titles from 1949 to 1953.

Formula 1: Michael Schumacher won five straight world championships from 2000 to 2004.

NHRA: John Force won 10 straight Funny Car championships from 1993 to 2002.

NFL: No team has ever won five straight Super Bowl titles. No team has ever won more than two consecutive Super Bowls.

Just some perspective for you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Don't Wanna Go On a Rant Here, But ...

Something that's been really bugging me lately that I need to get off my chest:

Perhaps you heard that the 2010 World Series -- a five-game affair pitting the surprising San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers -- tied an all-time low in television ratings. Only the 2008 World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies struggled as mightily for viewers.

Oddly enough, Game 5 of this year's World Series beat Monday Night Football -- a game that featured Peyton Manning, no less.

Still, the news regarding this year's World Series ratings upsets me, but not because I'm a staunch baseball lover who thinks everyone should embrace the game or be subject to eternal ridicule simply for not "getting it." No, it bothers me because it illustrates once again that as a nation, sports fans are a bunch of hypocrites.

Think about it; how often do you hear fans complaining, on sports talk radio and on message boards and in everyday conversation, about how today's sports media (ESPN, specifically) only focuses on a handful of teams -- you know, the Yankees, the Mets, the Red Sox, the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Phillies ... you get the idea.

"Enough with the big-market teams!" they shout. "We've had it with Yankees-Red Sox!" they exclaim (maybe from rooftops, I don't know). "There are other teams out there!" they howl -- while wearing a cap supporting the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates.

These fans holler and moan when big-market teams are given nationally broadcast games and the lion's share of attention on shows like SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight. Yet when the game's most storied event -- the World Series -- features two teams that don't get the bulk of the publicity -- like the Giants and Rangers -- do they tune in?

Apparently not.

I'm gonna let all these whiny baseball fans in on a little secret. You know why ESPN and the others shove Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies down our collective throats from March through October? You know why ESPN is more likely to show us Yankees-White Sox than Royals-Athletics?, or Phillies-Cardinals instead of Rockies-Brewers?

Because people watch. The ratings speak for themselves. When ESPN shows a Yankees game, the network gets outstanding ratings -- which draws in advertisers, which brings in revenue. So not only do the whiners not watch the new teams, they turn around and watch Yankees-Red Sox, the very teams they bitch about!

You want television to stop covering the Yankees so much? Stop watching their games. If the ratings swing away from the Yankees and Red Sox and Phillies to other teams, then ESPN and the others will follow suit.

Baseball fans, you may say you want other teams to get the attention, but you had a shot to make good on that desire a few weeks ago, and you didn't do it. You could've tuned in en masse to watch the Giants and the Rangers to prove that baseball is in fact relevant outside of a handful of major markets ... but you didn't.

Which makes you damn hypocrites.