Indians

Indians and baseball will be just fine, thanks for asking: Between Innings

Hey, we’ll always have the 2016 ALCS. It is a bit infuriating for a talented Cleveland Indians (18-15) team to lose a series to an injury-depleted Toronto Blue Jays (13-21) squad especially when the Tribe had so many opportunities to win both the games they lost. On Wednesday, a four-run lead and seven runs would not be enough as Cody Allen’s recent ninth inning command struggles finally cost him as the Blue Jays walked off, 8-7.

Neither Blue Jays starter, Francisco Liriano (2.0 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO), nor Indians starter, Danny Salazar (2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO), made it out of the third inning. Once Dan Otero ended the Tribe’s bullpen scoreless streak by allowing a home run to Ezequial Carrera in the fourth inning, the game was reset at seven each with the bullpens left to manage.

For once, the Tribe bullpen was out-pitched as the Indians failed to plate any runs against the five relievers Toronto trotted out. Cody Allen walked two before Ryan Goins finished off the game. The month of May has seen Allen walk six batters in 3.2 innings pitched and at least one in each of his four outings. The command that saw him strike out 20 and walk one in April has deteriorated. Allen remains one of MLB’s elite closers, but the Tribe will need to work to survive his current slump until he pulls out of it.

Making matters worse is the Indians had a player suffer yet another shoulder injury as Abraham Almonte left the game after flying out in the second inning. Yan Gomes also left but the Tribe noted it was due to some intestinal illness and he should be fine. With the 162 game season being a marathon, the Indians will have to continue to dip into their depth with Corey Kluber also out and starters Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar scuffling (Salazar is averaging just over five innings per start).

The Tribe will be fine. The Indians remain in first place in the AL Central division. Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff built the organizational depth to withstand the grind of a long MLB season. The bullpen has excelled, the bats have scored six plus runs two games in a row, and the team is coming home for a six-game set. Even better, first up is the Minnesota Twins whom the Indians can extend their divisional lead with a series win.

Baseball Ratings doing fine, thanks for asking

Perhaps a reporter should only ask about declining interest in baseball if there are some facts behind it. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were more prepared than the interviewer though as they quipped back how well the World Series and MLB is doing. The question should have been if baseball should make attempts to nationalize their audience (as it is a more local-market driven sport than the NFL or NBA). The ratings in-season, postseason, everything have been going up especially when taking the digital components like MLB.tv into consideration.

Let’s take a gander at the real facts here.

Fangraphs detailed the 2016 MLB viewership as it rose last year during the same time period the NFL and Olympics were making up excuses for their declining ratings.

Overall, there’s been an increase of 121,000 viewers across the board, an increase of 5% over last season. The All-Star game might have lost a couple million, but MLB stands to have an increase locally about 10 times that amount. In an era where fewer and fewer people are even watching television and ratings for the Olympics are down 25%, seeing an increase in viewers is a plus for Major League Baseball. While the shift over viewership from national games to local ones can make it look like popularity is shrinking, it’s representative of the industry and our population as a whole.

The 2016 MLB postseason numbers were up across the board despite many of them being on cable networks. The Blue Jays perhaps had the most impressive rating of them all.

2016 World Series Game 7 was highest rated baseball game in an era as Hollywood Reporter noted.

This makes it the most-watched baseball game in 25 years, blowing past the handful of turn-of-the-century games that hit 39 million. The last baseball game to top the 40-million mark was in 1991. Game 6 of that World Series earned 40.8 million viewers.

World Series viewership is still down from the days before cable, but the Indians and Cubs helped buck the trend with a compelling, drama-filled event.

The carry-over effect seems to be in play as the 2017 Opening Day game between Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals the most viewed and streamed Opening Day game ever.