Just a week ago, there was finally a ray of hope in the dark ages that have been the NBA lockout. Talks between both sides were happening, ticket offices were reportedly being prepared to handle sales, and optimism was high the lockout would be ended. And then, just as we've grown accustomed to happening in this most maddening period in the Association's history, negotiations broke off once again. MORE games were cancelled, an 82 game season is now out of the picture,, and NBA fans are left to curse the decimation this lockout has done to a sport that had been peaking.
And now, as if possible, we've reached a dizzying new low in the lockout saga thanks to professional mudslinger Jason Whitlock of Foxsports.com. Usually, most columns Whitlock writes aren't worth being taken seriously. He's an online version of Skip Bayless, just less theatrical. At least with Skip, we know that it's all pretend and no human being with the thinking capacity of prehistoric man would believe the things he says. With Whitlock, I'm not so sure.
Whitlock's newest target is NBA players union president Derek Fisher of the LA Lakers. The whole saga involves unnamed sources, tales of fractures in the players union, Fisher reportedly going behind the backs of his own union to make a secret deal with David Stern, not one but two letters by Fisher debunking Whitlock's columns, and even the threat of a lawsuit from Fisher to Whitlock. Happy days are here again, indeed.
So when the NBA season was supposed to kick off, the union president plans on possibly suing an online columnist. Not quite the ray of hope we're looking for. Here's the Reader's Digest version of how this he-said, she-said controversy has broken down thus far...
Whitlock Column I: "This is fact: The belief that NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher has been co-opted by commissioner David Stern — and promised the commish he could deliver the union at 50-50 — caused NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and at least one member of the union’s executive committee to confront Fisher on Friday morning and make him reassess his 50-50 push, a source familiar with the negotiations told FOXSports.com Friday afternoon."
"It has been my belief throughout this process that Fisher is the wrong person to be the president of the union. He has earned a substantial amount of money from playing in the NBA. But not enough that he can’t be influenced and baited by the NBA establishment."
Fisher Letter To The Union I: "Usually I wouldn't even dignify absurd media reports with a comment. But before these reports go any further, let me say on the record to each of you, my loyalty has and always will be with the players. Anyone that questions that or doubts that does not know me, my history, and what I stand for. And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question. The Players Association is united and any reports to the contrary are false. There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close. We are united in serving you and presenting the best options and getting everyone back to work."
Whitlock Column II: "What you will find in the letter is a very weak attempt by Fisher, the player president, to deny my report that Hunter, the union’s executive director, and at least one member of the union’s executive committee confronted Fisher about their belief that Fisher’s push for a 50-50 basketball-related-income split with NBA ownership was part of a deal Fisher had privately cut with David Stern and/or Adam Silver to deliver the union at 50-50."
"Let me break this down one last time for Derek Fisher: 1. Fisher needs to fall back behind Hunter and let an experienced lawyer/negotiator battle David Stern; 2. Wior (Fisher's publicist) needs to spend her days building a relationship with the producers of “Dancing With the Stars,” so that her client’s transition from athlete to entertainer is a smooth one."
Fisher Letter To The Union II: "The statements made in recent articles on the Fox Sports website are inexcusable. Among the many baseless accusations, to allege that I am working with the league for my personal gain is unequivocally false. The implication that I am doing anything but working in the best interests of the players is disgusting, defamatory and a flat-out lie. I have issued a letter through my attorneys demanding a retraction for the libelous and defamatory stories the site and reporter have continued to publish."
I'll give you a moment to say a prayer of remembrance over what was the NBA post-Jordan boom.
If these "sources" and reports were coming from a mouthpiece more credible than Whitlock, would they be considered more seriously? Could Whitlock's reports be accurate? Of course. Could they be 100% false? Absolutely. It's impossible to tell from the outside looking in, especially when unnamed sources are involved and the vigor to which Fisher has tried to debunk the columns. Maybe the source has an axe to grind with Fisher, maybe he or she is trying to save the best deal for the players. Who knows. All we have are the track records of Jason Whitlock and Derek Fisher on which to pre-judge this story. (You can make your own decision there on who that favors...)
In the end, it's nothing other than one more depressing story regarding the NBA lockout. Instead of us posting national TV schedules, making fun of the Heat Index, and enjoying the sequel to the greatest NBA year in over a decade... we're left with this. The players union president potentially suing a columnist. Regardless of the truth of Whitlock's columns, he's the only winner here because myself and many others are have fallen into this game of charades and given it the light of day.
And when Jason Whitlock is the only winner of the NBA lockout thus far, that should tell you just how bad it is for the sport of basketball.
That's where we are on Day 125 of the NBA lockout.
1. Its been obvious for years, the focus of the Yankees, Sox and Phllies are because those 3 teams, cities and fan bases are what draws the highest ratings. If the Cubs, Mets and to an extent the Dodgers were doing better the ratings uptick would be higher. But the TV execs are in it for the money, so you can't blame them for maximizing their bottom line. Blaming them for putting the same teams on all the team is beating a dead horse. If the Twins, Tigers or Diamondback are, on nobody watches. The ratings already prove it.
2. The games are entirely too long. Part of it has to do with the style of play, the other part is the commercials. You don't hears ESPN and FOX make too much of a stink about the game length, because they know they are part of the problem and wouldn't do a thing to speed up the game at the expense of costs. And it really wouldn't matter if they started games at 7PM or 7:30EST. Basketball games end in 2:15 to 2:30, football in 3 (typical) to 3:15 and the action is not as slow as baseball.
3. The rating landscape for this decade is different from the last and FAR different from before that. More channels, more options for people. Has there ever been a analysis to compare ratings today to the last decade or too relative to population and neilsen subscribers to determine if the rating number is consistent? I'm not a mathematician and probably talking out of my scope, but has anyone every looked at the numbers and say compared to the 80's or 90's how relative is this 'low' now to yesteryear? To yesterday?
You guys continue to bash baseball because it is slow and plodding and that is why nobody watches because everyone is duped up on Sugar and Crack and needs something at an nonstop electrifying pace. It has always been slow, that is the nature of the game. I don't recall when the Spurs were sweeping the Cavs that it was because hoops was too slow! The fact is people are devoted to football because of gambling. Usually even if the game is decided the point spread or totals are not until the end so that is why the ratings are consistently better for football. Gee wiz the answer is so simple.
Apparently the Associated Press and Nielsen, the recognized standard in TV ratings for decades, did not read your article. According to them, in the AP article titled "World Series shakes up Nielsen ratings", 3 of the first 4 World Series Games "finished among the 10 most popular programs for the week". This allowed Fox to edge out the usual leader CBS last week in audience size. In fact the only game that did not rate well was game the Saturday night blowout game which St. Louis won in a lopsided way. I believe Nielsen and the AP are much more reliable sources for this kind of information than "Sports Media Watch".
For a game that nobody watched, everybody seems to have a first hand opinion on the way LaRussa handled his relief pitchers and botched a simple phone conversation with the bullpen. It's been a very good Series with great performances on both sides. If you are a sports fan and not watching, you have missed out.
Both FOX and ESPN have done a terrible job with baseball. They have focused on basically two teams for years; while not generating any interest for other teams. People like Karl Ravech, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had not been good for baseball as a whole. ESPN lost interest in this postseason when the Red Sox didn't make it. ESPN has been more interested in what has happened with Boston after the season than what has gone on in the postseason. If the Cardinals were not in the Series, a team they have both been affiliated with, Buck and McCarver would be more bored than they already sound. The national media, overall, has done a disservice to what has been a pretty good World Series.
I really think the game slowing down and just being slow in general may have something to do with it as well, as well as all the factors y'all list. Let's face it - football and basketball highlights sell a lot better to younger fans than baseball. With Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, etc, is someone that grows up in that kind of environment going to want to watch a game where a wide majority of the time is spent with inaction?
On top of that, is it any surprise the Rangers are involved in all these low rated games? Baseball (MLB and its TV partners) have given us zero reason to care about Texas at all the last two years.
All of the above and you can add that the game has slowed down dramatically since the 70's and 80's because batters and pitchers stall only as long as humanly possible.
MLB has lost its marketing way.....obviously not doing enough to market mobile-wise to younger sports fan. Focuses too heavily on East Coast Big 2 (we All know who they are) and not enough in south n south west other than maybe Dodgers. Then they fill the Booth with two idiots; one whi just loves the sound of his own voice & other is possibly getting Alzheimer's cuz poor McCarver makrs more errors than the Durham Bulls!
I think you're definitely on to something with the comment that "I suppose that's what MLB asks for though in constructing their sport to heavily favor those teams and allowing them to dominate the national baseball discussion."
Casual baseball fans are reminded all year long that the big market teams are more "important" than any others, so it shouldn't be surprising that these casual fans don't have as much interest when one of these teams isn't involved.
What's disappointing to me most is the fact that both of these teams are so lovable and have such a great story this season (and it HAS been a great series so far). The cardinals coming from behind like they did, and the rangers have such a likable manager as well as many likable players, plus they are in a top 5 major market. But since they don't have a history like the Red Sox or Yankees, they don't get near the same coverage. I'm hoping these last two season will start to change that for them. But what really surprises me is the fact that St. Louis does have a successful history. But what I guess the bottom line comes down to is the fact that american tv viewers (as dumb as they are) would rather watch silly comedies and dumb reality shows than good ole fashioned drama filled world series baseball.
I think the reason the World Series ratings are down is because of competition and society in general. If you look at all major sports besides the NFL, their ratings are down from 20 years ago. NBA Finals don't draw as many fans as they did in the 90s. Same for NHL, and MLB. It's a shame that the Red Sox and Yanks are the only teams that bring in the "big" ratings, but both of the cities are some of the largest markets out there. MLB and other major sports besides the NFL have to face the fact that their is too much competition from cable channels, the internet, streaming services, and etc... The amount of outlets a person can have in their house for entertainment is abundant from 20 years ago. Now most people own a computer, a cell phone, have cable, a lot of people have video game consoles, red box dvds or Netflix, etc... 20 years ago the only thing certain was most people have TVs. Times have changed, and it's unfortunate that baseball doesn't draw in a lot of young people, but our society has become so instant gratification and need to see action all the time. I wouldn't be surprised fans complained about the Cowboys vs Pats game as it wasn't a 40-40 blowout.
@abculater Ill substitute sugar and crack, for speed and physicality so not to offend. But the truth is the games are too slow and its the reason why a generation have been and are drawn more to football and basketball as viewers and athletes, especially in urban areas. Gambling has/will always have a direct interest to viewers but their are still fans who will tune in for the games, the favorite teams, their favorite player(s). I have no rooting interest in the Rangers or Cardinals, but I keep the series on in hopes of not missing anything like what happened last night. But the truth is, the games ARE TOO long, younger viewers attention spans are A LOT shorter and as great the game was, 12:45 EST is not acceptable time for it to end. And is doesn't help that their is about 120 seconds of commercials in between every inning.
@CHJ so you're saying SMW is making this stuff up? and all the other venues that report the same numbers are lying too? you're right, it's all a vast conspiracy against MLB with Sports Media Watch at the center...
seriously though, the numbers above are accurate, as i'm sure are the ones from the AP... but it depends on how you want to twist them.
if you want to lean on the WS still being popular television (which it of course is in relative terms) and doing well compared to other networks then that's fine, but it denies the obvious facts and problems of the numbers decreasing badly in recent years, especially when huge teams with huge fanbases don't show up
First, links to the AP/Nielsen article I referred to are:
My message, which was based on the AP/Nielsen article referenced above, challenged the title of your article “World Series Game 6 Postponed, But Nobody's Watching Anyways”. Clearly based on what AP reported that Nielsen said, comparatively speaking, a lot of people are watching the World Series. So the statement “…Nobody’s Watching Anyways” is not accurate. So many people have been watching, Fox was the ratings leader on TV last week. The AP/Nielsen article commented that's unusual since Fox’s ratings leading program “American Idol” doesn't air 'til January.
However, my message also implicitly challenged the content of your article, and that may have been wrong because the content of your article was different than the title , and that content may in fact be accurate. Your article basically spoke about baseball’s ratings declining over several years, but my message only addressed comparative audience ratings of the World Series this year.
I also should have left out my statement “I believe Nielsen and the AP are much more reliable sources for this kind of information than "Sports Media Watch" because both sources were talking about different subjects. I think you should have left out the part about a conspiracy because I neither said nor implied that was the case.
I think regarding historical ratings it should be noted that with the advent of the many channels on cable and satellite TV and internet based TV and movie viewing, the ratings for just about all of the major network programs, sports and otherwise, have declined over time because viewers now have many more options. Also, the Business Week article you cited said this year’s game 4 drew exactly the same percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time (16%) as last year’s game 4, so maybe since the number of cable and satellite channel options seems to have leveled out in the recent past, apparently baseball’s ratings have as well. Maybe baseball’s ratings have fallen due to declining interest in the sport, but I think part of that decline has also been part of the overall decline of major network program ratings due to so many more viewing options. How much of the decline is due to what factor is a subject that likely could be debated forever.