warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

World Series Game 2 - Rangers Come Back In 9th To Tie Series

James Santelli |
October 21, 2011 | 3:36 a.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor

Josh Hamilton's sac fly brought in the tying run in the Rangers' win. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Josh Hamilton's sac fly brought in the tying run in the Rangers' win. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
The Texas Rangers forged a 9th-inning comeback with singles by Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, followed by sacrifice flies off the bats of Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, to take Game 2 of the 2011 World Series 2-1.

Both teams went scoreless through the first six innings, until St. Louis broke the tie in the 6th. David Freese and Nick Punto singled to put the pressure on the Rangers. And then...

-- CRAIG COMES THROUGH: Stop me if you've heard this one before: Cardinals pinch hitter Allen Craig walks into a batters' box at Busch Stadium with a tie score, late innings, and two outs in the World Series. Punto and Freese are both on base.

Rangers manager Ron Washington decides to replace his starting pitcher with reliever Alexi Ogando. Craig then drives an RBI single into right field to bring in the go-ahead run.

It happened on Wednesday night in the 6th inning of Game 1, and ended up being the deciding run. And then the same song played in the 7th inning on Thursday to break a scoreless tie, but the Cards couldn't hang on to the lead they gained.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)
-- LA RUSSA'S HEAD-SCRATCHER: Eric Freeman has a great piece over at Deadspin on ultra-conservative Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. On Thursday night, a controversial move by TLR may have sunk St. Louis.

Cards closer Jason Motte gave up two singles to start the 9th, unusual for the flame-throwing righty that has averaged less than one baserunner per inning in 2011. Nonetheless, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs, St. Louis's best hope to prevent a tying run was to strike out Josh Hamilton, then perhaps intentionally walk Michael Young to set up a force play. Motte (8.3 K/9 this season) gave the Cards a good chance to get that strikeout.

But La Russa was quick to give his closer a vote of no confidence, pulling him for 41-year-old Arthur Rhodes (5.7 K/9 in 2011). The move was immediately criticized. Rhodes left an 81 mph slider on the table for Hamilton, who belted it deep enough for the sac fly to tie the game. Motte has been the Cardinals' best reliever this season, by a good margin. Where was his manager's trust in him?

-- GARCIA THE GREAT: Lost in the exciting finish to Thursday's game was the outstanding performance of St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia. He went seven innings, allowing just three hits, one walk, and struck out seven Rangers hitters. Although one could argue he was pulled too early (after just 87 pitches), pinch hitter Allen Craig certainly did his job in replacing Garcia in the lineup.

-- ELVIS LIVES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus is only 23, but is well on his way to becoming one of baseball's best defensive shortstops. Plays like this stop-and-flip can only help his case. He had a fantastic night in the field.

(Dustin Phillips/Creative Commons)
(Dustin Phillips/Creative Commons)
-- REPORTS OF MY DEATH HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED: Some people appear to be treating the World Series' decreased ratings as a referendum on the declining popularity of baseball in America.

Now, don't get me wrong, the Series getting outdrawn by "Modern Family" is not a good thing. But it is also not a precursor to baseball going the way of boxing or horse racing. Here's part of the reason why:

1. Out of the four major sports, baseball is the only one that holds its championship on a weeknight during a regular TV season. Back in the salad days when televisions had five channels, this was no problem for baseball. Now? Viewers have choices and they have in-season choices. The NBA and NHL would probably see their Finals ratings decrease if they aired it in February instead of June.

2. It is on FOX. Don't believe me that this is a problem? Just do a Twitter search for Joe Buck or Tim McCarver during the next game. Fans can't stand the guys. Underrated play-by-play man Dan Shulman is stuck on ESPN Radio. He should have the national TV audience.

3. Follow the money. The NFL may seem like the New Colossus of modern-day sports, but it is not sprinting away from baseball on the accounting ledgers. NFL revenues in 2010 were estimated at $9 billion, but MLB was second at around $7 billion, and its revenues are rising year-to-year. The NBA ($3.8 billion) and NHL ($2.7 million) don't combine to make as much as baseball.

4. Most importantly, overall MLB attendance was up in 2011. Baseball teams sold about 400,000 more tickets this season over last year. If baseball is becoming less popular, you wouldn't be able to tell from the number of folks showing up to watch it.

Fact is, baseball is still hugely popular in America. It is just a more regionalistic sport than the NHL, NBA or MLB. It's a different TV monster than football, in which fans of a certain team can only watch them play about 50 hours every season, then have to watch other games to get their fix. Baseball fans can devote 50 hours to watching their team after just one month of play.

Call baseball boring. Call baseball a relic. Call baseball dead. But the only thing World Series ratings are measuring is how many people are watching the World Series, not how many people still enjoy the game.

And if the rest of the Series is half as exciting as Games 1 and 2, the viewers will come.


Reach James by email or follow him on Twitter, @JamesSantelli.

Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?

Or join our email list below to enjoy the weekly Neon Tommy News Highlights.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.