The lowest-rated World Series was still special to Rangers fans
The just-completed 2023 World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks had the lowest ratings in history, averaging just 9.11 million viewers over five games.
I guess you could say it was not a sexy matchup, as it pitted the fifth seed from the American League against the sixth seed from the National League. The two squads averaged 87 regular-season victories, with Texas winning 90 games and Arizona winning 84.
Clearly, the Rangers and Diamondbacks weren’t the two best teams battling it out for the right to take home baseball’s most coveted trophy, but I thought it was the culmination of one of the most exciting postseason tournaments in the history of Major League Baseball. I like the fact that two underdogs competed against one another in the Fall Classic. Why didn’t more people care? Maybe it’s because a lot of people stopped being invested in baseball decades ago. I believe this all started sometime in the 1970s when the National Football League surpassed Major League Baseball as America’s great pastime. I think the national love affair with baseball eroded even more in the 1990s when salaries began to soar and teams in small markets simply couldn’t keep up with the likes of the Yankees, Mets and Dodgers in terms of annual spending.
Oh yeah, I also think the league and its network partners alienated so much of baseball’s fan base by presenting teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets and Cubs as if they were the only ones that truly mattered. How often have we seen a Yankees/Red Sox matchup featured on ESPN or Fox as the game of the week? Too many times to count. And Heaven forbid these two teams meet in the postseason. Leave work early. Get home fast. You need to be in front of your television sets to watch baseball royalty at its finest!
I’m sorry, but the beauty of a league like the NFL is it allows any fan of any team in any city–large, medium and even Green Bay–to feel as invested as anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Giants fan or a Steelers fan, your team has a chance if the people in charge make enough of the right moves.
Believe it or not, there are diehard baseball fans in every nook and cranny of America. They don’t just reside in New York and Boston. They live down in Florida. They call Pittsburgh home. Minnesota. Cleveland. Cincinnati.
I can go on and on.
They even live in the Dallas-Fort Wayne-Arlington metro area, the home of the Rangers.
The Rangers were founded as an expansion team in 1961, but they weren’t the Rangers, then. They resided in the D.C. area and were called the Washington Senators. The Senators moved to Texas in 1972 and appropriately became the Rangers.
The Rangers always seemed like second-class baseball citizens in the State of Texas. The Houston Astros, who were also an expansion team in the 1960s (1962), were the more popular team, despite not having a ton of success in their own right. (It pays to put down state roots right away.)
But Houston had a little more success, especially in the 1980s when it won three NL West titles and played in two of the more memorable National League Champion Series of the decade. The Astros enjoyed even more success, starting in the late-’90s, winning four division titles between 1997 and 2001 as part of the new NL Central.
Houston eventually won its first pennant in 2005, but it was in the 2010s, after moving over to the American League as a member of the AL West, when the Astros truly became a dynasty. Houston has won seven straight American League West Division titles since 2017. It’s won four American League pennants during that time and the first two World Series titles in franchise history (2017 and 2022).
So, not only were the Rangers second-class baseball citizens in their own state but now the only other team in Texas was also in their division and dominating year in and year out.
I’m sure it had to be a source of frustration for the truly die-hard Rangers fans.
Speaking of Rangers fans, imagine how they felt on Wednesday night when their team finally, finally won its first World Series title with a 5-0 win over the Diamondbacks in Game 5. The victory may have happened on the road at Chase Stadium, but to their long-suffering fans, it had to feel like they finally came home.
A video has gone viral on Twitter of a lifelong Rangers fan breaking down in tears after seeing the final out of the 2023 World Series. It has been viewed nearly 11 million times since Wednesday night, and I think it perfectly captures the journey many fans go on with their favorite teams. It’s nothing but a decades-long rollercoaster ride, filled with joy, pain, excitement, anger, happiness and depression.
To finally see your favorite team get over the top after so many ups and downs is literally the greatest feeling for a sports fan.
Not only did the Rangers give their long-time fans their first title, but they did so in an improbable way and vanquished their annual suppressors in the process.
If baseball wants its postseason ratings to rise, it needs more of its long-suffering faithful to experience moments like that lifelong Rangers fan did last Wednesday night.
Baseball should cater to all of its fans, not just the ones who cheer for the Bronx Bombers and franchises of that ilk.
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