Once you get past the Astros merely being there again after suffering no meaningful consequences for their cheating, and the racist Chop, and the scheduled attendance of Donald Trump at Game 4, and the idea that losing awaiting-trial-on-felony-charges Marcell Ozuna was some kind of “adversity” that Atlanta had to battle through, and fuckin’ Ted Cruz — seriously, we can’t even get away from Ted Cruz here? — and the listening to John Smoltz speak for three-plus hours a night… there’s some pretty good baseball being played in the World Series!
The last two-hit shutout in the Series was in 2012, when Madison Bumgarner tossed seven innings, followed by Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo for a frame apiece for the Giants in Game 2 of their sweep of the Tigers. This series is now 2-1 Atlanta after five no-hit frames by Ian Anderson, relieved by A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek (against whom the no-hit bid ended), and Will Smith.
Austin Riley gave Atlanta the only run it needed with an RBI double, Travis d’Arnaud provided insurance with an eighth-inning homer, and each of the last two innings, the Astros threatened against Atlanta’s top relievers. It wasn’t a World Series classic, but a very strong Fall Classic game, far better than the first two in this series, in which each team got to flex — good character development, but not the most compelling thing to watch. Game 3 is where it got more interesting.
But there’s just… all that other stuff. Especially with the Series in Cobb County, listening to the racist drone in the background is just unpleasant, as it has been for 30 years. If you’re not a fan of one of these teams, odds are you have really ill will toward one or both organizations, and as much as you might like some of the individuals involved and appreciate the product they’re putting on the field, it’s easy to feel the pull of Something Else On TV.
It happened that Friday was a pretty weak night on that front, but Saturday night features Penn State-Ohio State and a better NBA/NHL slate, and Game 5 is going to be up against Cowboys-Vikings, not to mention anyone being drawn away by Halloween hijinks and entertainment all weekend.
That’s where Baseball has really slipped. It’s not that the sport is hemorrhaging fans, but that you can pretty easily find reasons to turn away from the World Series. It would’ve been the same with the Dodgers or Red Sox involved, too — it’s not just an Atlanta-Houston issue, it’s just at an apex here.
The Super Bowl is the sporting event that you can’t ignore. It’s been that way for decades, while the World Series losing the “It” factor also is not a new phenomenon, just one that feels more pronounced than ever now.
It’s great that there’s so much talent in the game. It stinks that everything else about it is a reason to spend your time any other way.