Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday A.M. Quickie:
Who Screwed Up More?


Was it Torii Hunter, whose overconfident lunge at a Kotsay blooper turned a routine RBI single or double into a signature 2-run inside-the-park HR that effectively cost the Twins the game -- and put them in a seemingly insurmountable 0-2 hole in the LDS after two games in Minnesota?

Or was it JD Drew, whose unprecedented base-running blunder turned into the first-ever moment in baseball playoffs history that two players were tagged out at home on the same play?

Though Hunter's miscue directly cost the Twins the game and the Dodgers didn't throw away the entire game on "J.D.'s Boner," there's no question that Drew's double-D'oh was the bigger blunder. Tom Boswell has a strong take.

Hindsight will rule here: If the Dodgers go on to lose the series (as they went on to lose Game 1 last night), Drew's dud will probably be attributed as the triggering event. (If they win, it'll be forgotten.)

The upshot is that both blunders have the promise of being devastating to their team's psyches -- in a 5-game series, they could be all the difference.

Tigers at Yankees, Game 2 (Make-Up): I believe that the last time the Yankees had to deal with playoff games on consecutive days to account for a rain delay, they delivered the biggest choke in sports history.

But these 2006 Tigers ain't those 2004 Red Sox (and these 2006 Yankees are a lot better than those 2004 Yankees).

(Randy Johnson is reportedly ready to pitch Game 3 tomorrow in Detroit. I'm calling it now: He's going to get shelled.)

Dodgers at Mets, Game 2 (8 p.m.): It looks like El Duque will miss the entire playoffs with a calf injury. (What is it with old Mets pitchers and their calves?)

Cards at Padres, Game 2 (4 p.m.): How would most Cards fans rate their confidence in Jeff Weaver as the starting pitcher?

(Hmm: Probably with the same confidence that Padres fans have in David Wells as THEIR starting pitcher.)

A's up 2-0 on Twins: As I said yesterday, when a freak inside-the-park-HR is the winning margin to let the visiting team take a second straight game on the road before heading back home for two games, you know the series is as good as over. The Twins must have used all their mojo winning that division title.

T.O. vs. Eagles, Cont'd: When's the weigh-in?

The latest forced drama is that McNabb says he sent T.O. a text message last week to support him in his time of, uh, need.

T.O. says he never got the text.

(Actually, McNabb sent him 35 texts and T.O.'s publicist says she was so shaken up when she saw the list on T.O.'s cell-phone that she called 9-1-1, thinking T.O. was trying to text himself to death.)

This is what we're reduced to:

He-said-he-said about text messages. The T.O.-Eagles feud has officially regressed to the junior high level.

Can Koren Robinson apply his 45 days of work-release (to go with 45 days in jail, per his DUI sentencing) toward playing football?

Greg Anderson is out of jail today: And, yet, the "Game of Shadows" guys are clink-bound. Ah, the sweet smell of justice...

Commish Gary Bettman says the NHL is in good shape, and usually this would be the moment for sarcasm, but I actually agree with him:

As soon as the NHL started running itself like a tidy niche sport, it was on the road to recovery. Dropping pretensions of being part of a mythical "Big Four" was the key.

(For the record, there is currently a "Big Three": NFL, MLB and College Football. That's right: I don't consider the NBA part of the "Big" sports anymore either. It is merely the biggest of the niche sports.)

More niche-sport news: MLS will let teams sell ads on the front of jerseys. I've argued for a while, this is an inevitability in both the NBA and MLB.

There's nothing sacred about jerseys – at least nothing that the big dollars from sponsors can't buy. NASCAR fans and European soccer fans (who eclipse MLB or NBA fans for passion) don't seem to mind.

I have yet to hear a good argument -- beyond "what about the tradition!" -- for keeping advertisements off MLB or NBA uniforms. It's simply not worth getting that upset over.

(Ideally, owners would take that jersey-sponsorship revenue and have to earmark it for either reducing the price of tickets or parking OR for growing payroll to make the team better. I'm not holding my breath.)

Update: Thanks to reader Garett D. (from Canada!) who reminded that my favorite Euro football team, Barcelona, actually PAID a sponsor to put their logo on their uniforms, which the team previously had refused to ever adorn with an ad. The sponsor? UNICEF. The team pays the sponsor AND the money goes to a good cause? Now THERE's a concept.

After the ill-fated Bob Ferry Era, the inept Wes Unseld Era (and the even more f'ed up Michael Jordan Era), hiring Ernie Grunfeld to run the team's basketball operations was the best decision the Wizards ever made, so giving Grunfeld a contract extension continues to keep the Wiz on the right path. For once. (And I say that as a Wizards fan.)

Finally, a HUGE thanks to all the blog readers who came out for my NYC reading series last night. It was great to meet all of you in person, and I hope you had a great time. It was a really fun event.

-- D.S.


Blitzburgh said...

Let me comment on what an idiot you are.

Kevin McClatchy is a minority owner. He doesn't pull the strings. Learn a little bit before posting.

Basketball is a niche sport? Are there any more marketable athletes in this country other than LeBron James, D-Wade, and Shaq, other than say, Tiger Woods? If the NBA was a "niche sport" as you say, I doubt there players would be ued for national marketing campaigns. No wonder the quickie got canned.

xcdannon said...

Hunter screwed up more, because the Twins were already down a game (at home!).
Besides, Drew was just doing what the base coach told him to do...I don't think that was his decision.

Geoff-Detroit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jake C said...

It's BOTH JD Drew and the 3rd base coach who's at fault. JD was only at fault for slowing down (because if he didn't - there's a good chance he slides in). But moreso, it's the idiotic 3rd base coach who waved him in!

Granted, Hunter should have played the ball in front of him. But, that catch (or would-be catch) is almost routine for him. As he said, he had simply tailed at the end.

The NBA has absolutely turned into a niche sport. Just because they have marketable athletes, doesn't make it a big sport. A la Tiger in golf, ANY player in American soccer, Crosby in the NHL...etc. The big "three" as Dan said, are there because of the media coverage, the NUMEROUS people who watch on TV, and large money sales in every avenue.

TO saga - THANK GOD when this weekend ends!!! Seriously.

And, look for me pitching for the Mets on Saturday guys. I strained my calf in our softball game Monday, so the Mets are calling me up to pitch (not sure if I'll make it though - MRI scheduled today).

Big D said...

Dear God... how are you already awake and writing 1500 words?

I just landed on my couch - I haven't even read all the big stories today. Well, actually, I guess I have now.

Just wanted to say thanks again for the readings last night. It was a good time. Though I'm not sure how frequently I'll be able to go, if I want to keep both my financial and mental health intact.

Stupid circadian rhythms. They're not going to let me forget about this one for awhile...

Jon said...

Forget JD Drew. What about the guy who was in front of him (Kent?)? How on earth does he not score from second on that ball to the wall? Last I checked there were no Molina brothers on the Dodgers, so that run should have definitely been able to get in. As for Drew, he should have just drilled LoDuca. No way he would held onto the ball. Stupid play though. Just as stupid as Hunter's dive, except Hunter's dive had more of an impact and cost his team the game.

Manada said...

Koren Robinson is already in prision. He should argue that playing for the Packers is on par, if not worse than going into the pen.....I love the team - but they're effin' brutal.

BTW - at what time does A-Rod (insert insult to me here) decide it's ok to go all "Harding" on Favre?

Re: Twins - Hunter misplayed it - pure and simple. A's WILL sweep.

Re: Dodgers - the 3rd Base coach is to blame. He waved Kent home when anyone could see that he was goning to be out by a mile AND he waved Drew in. Both should've stayed put - which would have left the Dodgers with the bases loaded, NO outs, thus making the young pitcher walk the tight-rope. Horrible coaching.

BTW: Delgado was money.

RE: TO - WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT THIS ASS-FACE ANYMORE!!!! I agree that he is an amazing talent - however he does not warrent this type of attention because he isn't even CLOSE to being int he top echlons of WR's in NFL history - hell PRO-Football History.

Rice, Swan, Carter, Largent, Mike Pitts (Calgary), Milt Stegal (Winnipeg) - all have played pro football with style grace and were just glad to be on the field.

TO treats his gift with no respect and does not take advantage of his opportunity. I'll take 1-Million Wayne Chrebet's over this guy, sure I might not win - but at least they'll give me 200%.

Angry morning.

Benvious said...


I can appreciate that as a member of the media, you're upset about the Game of Shadows guys being in jail. However, they broke the law. The law is not unclear in any way that they did so.

If you remove subpoena power from our courts, you will make our legal system even more of a joke than it already is. There are many laws that are questioned by certain industries as to their "fairness", but they still go to jail if they break them. Ask Microsoft how they feel about the anti-trust laws.

I sincerely agree that Greg Anderson should still be in jail for refusing to testify. He should be there until he does testify, regardless of how long it is. However, so should the Game of Shadows guys. Tell what you know, or sit in jail until you do. I doubt Greg Anderson, or most anyone else, would be willing to spend the rest of their lives in jail.

I always hear the argument for investigative journalism being "the public has the right to know". Well, "the public" has the legal right to know who leaked that testimony. You can't have it both ways.

Mega said...

Thank you Mr. Shanoff for getting it right that it was the first time 2 guys were tagged out at home in the same play IN THE PLAYOFFS. Unfortunetly, ESPN was raving how it was done for the first time ever (and never retracted their mistake).

Guess they never saw Carlton Fisk do it for the Chicago White Sox.

Gary said...

hey manada...your comments all looked fine until you used canadian football players to prove TO isn't worth having on your team, sorry, I ain't buying it.

You can have Cherbet and his 200% in losses, I'll take TO and his 100% in wins...and you CAN NOT deny that TO gives it his all when he's on the field, no one can deny that, its the off the field BS that makes him look like a f'n donkey (in my best Chef Gordon Ramsay voice).

Anonymous said...

Basketball is a niche sport. Few adults play it, few watch it.

I have to disagree with Dan: NFL, College Football, Nascar and golf are the real big 4. Everyone knows the major players, the big moves, etc. in these sports. The golf records and Tiger chasing them is starting to supplant the home run record of baseball (for good reason). Everyone plays golf.

Baseball is a niche sport with a suburban and rural following. Basketball is a niche sport with primarily an urban following. Obviously, MLB has more money involved as a result, looks like a big sport, but isn't.

Here's the breakdown of the major sports: everyone follows the NFL for fantasy. The majority of the blue collar guys follow Nascar, the majority of managers and executives follow and play golf. And lots of people watch college football on Saturday (like the entire states of Nebraska, Ohio and Michigan).

I see a lot more "3" and "8" stickers on cars than basketball hats and jerseys on people. Hockey is out of the discussion because everyone agrees that it's a niche sport, except in Canada, where it pretty much takes the place of college football (hockey night in canada is saturday night).

What people don't seem to realize about baseball is that only the Yankees and Red Sox (maybe Cubs and Braves) are candidates for the big 4. Since Pujols is in the NL, no one knows who he is - we don't see his games on TV. They might as well use a relegation system in MLB at this point.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...


The 3rd base coach did NOT wave in J.D. Drew. He waved in Jeff Kent (was he using crutches? I could have crawled faster!). He stopped J.D. but since Drew is a moron, he was running with his head down. Not the 3rd base coach's both Kent (for being the world's slowest man except for Jeremy Giambi) and J.D. Drew. He deserves batteries thrown at him.

Dan Shanoff said...

I completely understand that my "The 'Big Four' sports is an out-dated notion" argument is anathema to some of you.

The old "Big Four" was NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

No one is going to argue that the NHL is no longer part of this group -- and was ejected years ago.

10 years ago, I'm sure you would have called me crazy to say the NHL isn't part of a "Big Four."

That's where we are in terms of the NBA, too. I might be ahead of the curve, but it's absolutely where it's headed.

(Meanwhile, college football has always been overlooked as a "big" sport.)

Sorry if it offends you that I put the NBA in the "niche" group. It's not a rip on the NBA -- hell, NASCAR fans probably take even more issue that I rank the NBA ahead of NASCAR as a "niche" sport.

It's a reflection of the reality of fan consumption that there are three truly "national" (a.k.a. "Big") sports: NFL, MLB and CFB.

If you want to get REALLY technical about it, I'd say that MLB and CFB are closer to "niche" than "big," too, and that the only truly "national" sport is the NFL. Everything else is a niche sport of varying degrees, everything from massive niche (MLB, CFB) to pretty big niche (NBA, NASCAR) and down the line. Maybe at some point I'll categorize them all.

I actually think I fall into the "earnest" category by continuing to insist that MLB and CFB belong in the same breath with NFL in a "Big Three."

The reality is that we're down to a "Big One." But I'm willing to maintain (for now) that there is a Big Three.

Just don't count the NBA in that. Again, just my opinion -- and I'm probably a half-decade ahead of where it's inevitably headed.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Dannon is right, Hunter's play is worse because it cost the Twins a second game at home. However, Drew was dumber.

Anonymous said...

Wait, you think Ortiz is faster than Giambi?

Manada said...

Re: Gary
I just used the example of the CFLers because they are the best at what they do up in Canada.

They not only give 100% but they have done the best with what they have and at the level they play at.

My problem with TO is mainly that he COULD'VE been the greatest WR of all-time - I really believe that. His year with the Eagles was one of the most amazing seasons I have ever seen for a WR.

If he shut his ass up and played with the Eagles - told McNabb after the Super Bowl loss that they'll do it next year - I would actually respect the guy.

Instead he turns last year into one of the stupidest displays I have ever seen from a pro-player.

The fact that I have jsut wasted time out of my life to comment about this ass pisses me off.

I know that in journalism there is the - if it bleeds, it leads - attitude, however there has to be a point where this guy has to be ignored.

"jake c" by his brief comment thinks that this might die down after the weekend - there is no way it will.

Next week all of the football and sports pundits will be discussing the fallout of what ever happened (or more likely - didn't happen) until TO does something else to put the spot light on him.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...


It was a joke about Giambi. Yes, there are many many slow MLB players that it pains me to watch at times. I said Giambi because if anyone on that Oakland team was running the bases during "The Flip" it never would have happened. I don't think Jeter made a good play. I think Giambi was just too damn slow.

Tim said...

Hunter's dive was a big play, but you cant fault him for trying to save the go-ahead run by getting the third out. If he plays it safe, that run scores anyway and they're down 3-2. They still would have had to score again and they couldnt do it. The mentality in a 4-2 game is not that much different than a 3-2 game. It was a bad play, but it wasnt his fault.

As for the Kent-Drew catastrophe, Kent was trying to tag up, but there is still no reason that he cant score after he sees whats going to happen. I dont care if Drew was told to go or not, he has to look up and see whats going on as he rounds third. It doesnt take that long to find the ball and go back to third. Give some credit to the Mets there though for the perfect relay to nail Kent at the plate.

Geoff-Detroit said...

Sorry to whomever I corrected above. Turns out I hadn't quite finished my coffee and misread the post myself.

As for niche sports, I would agree with Dan that almost all sports are niche except the NFL. I know a lot of sports fans that like hockey, but hate and don't follow basketball. And vice versa. People that don't like baseball, but like racing. Etc, etc. But every sports fan I know follows the NFL. Fantasy and gambling having a lot to do with that.

Manada said...

I would take Sid Bream over Giambi and Ortiz in a second.

MP said...

What did Dan say wrong? The NBA is a niche sport, hockey is a niche sport, and the NBA is a bigger niche sport than NASCAR. Good calls.

As for TO and McNabb, I wish someone would just give them both some boxing gloves, put them in a ring, and let them settle it amongst each other once and for all. I'm so sick of hearing this back and forth. I simply don't care...but I might, if there was a boxing match between the two.

Do the Twins just have performance anxieties or what?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know it's a joke. But I love that it exposed your bitterness to the man. If you said he has the skankiest hair in the league, I'm with you there.

Anonymous said...

of course the NBA is a niche sport! The definition of which is that there's a percentage of sports fans that are interested in it and a percentage that aren't. The marketablity of the athletes has nothing to do with it, and blitzburgh's argument supports that by mentioning tiger woods as being more marketable than Tiger Woods. Just because an athlete is dominant and recognizable doesn't mean that the sports is universally watched or followed closely.

What makes MLB, CFB, and NFL the big three is that all sports fans watch these sports, not some. At least 50% of my group of sports friends don't watch the NBA, don't follow the NBA, don't have any interest in going to NBA games.

As for selling advertising space on jerseys, if the MLB were to allow it that doesn't mean that it would be mandatory. if a team like the yankees doesn't want to sell the space to uphold "tradition", no one would force them to.

jhawkjjm said...

Dan I agree with you that the NBA is a "niche sport" and not a "Big" one. The fact that basketball players are marketed means absolutely nothing as basketball has become more of a "me-first" hip hop thing than an actual sport. I know a whole lot more people who enjoy watching college basketball than the NBA.

As for jersey's not being sacred, I think Paul Lukas and the Uniwatch nation would disagree. I personally wouldn't like to see advertising on jerseys, but if it happens I just hope it doesn't become the dominant feature.

Unknown said...

Here is one thing that I will argue about the niche sport argument and that is that out of all the sports you mentioned I think NASCAR would be considered the other "big" sport.

I know it sounds weird but think about it - NASCAR has a basic cable channel all to themselves (SPEED), as well as a pretty lucrative TV contract (1 half the season with FOX/FX, 1 half the season with NBC/TNT). There are two races per week (Busch Series/Nextel Cup) and both sell out the stadium (100,000+ spectators).

I definately see how it slides into the niche sport area because since there is only 1 or at most 2 races per week as opposed to something like football which has 14 games per week it seems easier to sell out those events.

I just think the spectators in NASCAR as well as the sponsership, TV deals, and everything associated with it make it the biggest spectator sport in North America (or at worst the second biggest) which should probably remove it from niche and at least put it in the "big" market.

Eric said...

Manada – Mr. Owens is still terribly relevant. I think it is clear he has serious issues that need to be addressed by a physician. He absolutely gets too much media coverage, but that’s what the media does – it follows the easy headline. One cannot expect our national press to be serious about sports reporting when they are not serious about reporting the news.

Mr. ex-Quickie – Ye Gods! NBA as a niche sport?! To what niche are you referring? This seems like a pretty big niche. You couldn’t possibly mean just young, black men, could you? I, myself, am a young white man, and I enjoy the sport almost as much as the NFL. And you certainly don’t just mean men, because my wife and her friends like it much more than any other sport. Perhaps you mean the sport no longer appeals to old, fat, white men, and, therefore, it is a niche sport. To this, I say, for shame! Yes, this country has grown increasingly racist over the past six years (passively, of course) but that isn’t grounds to call the NBA a “niche” sport

Lee S. Kowarski said...

These days, every sport is a niche sport (except for soccer outside of the U.S.) as there is not any one sport that everyone follows. The NFL may be leading the pack right now and the NBA may be losing ground, but to try to seperate "niche" and "big" sports is a futile effort

Dan - thanks for putting together the event last night - great times.

Anonymous said...

From (might be from last year):

"Indeed, according to Nielsen ratings, NASCAR is second only to the NFL in sports viewership. So far this year, NASCAR's 5.8 average rating has beaten the NBA's regular season and playoffs; the NCAA tournament; PGA golf; and the NHL's regular season, playoffs and Stanley Cup finals. "

I don't know how they forgot to mention baseball, but they said it's second only to nfl. Worldwide, there's football (soccer) and Formula 1, in the US, there football (NFL and NCAA and high school) and Nascar.

Don't let your old ESPN biases blind you, Dan. More people know Tony Stewart and Earnhardt than David Ortiz and Albert Pujols.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think the country can be called, "more racist" when we'll be majority minority in a couple more years. I hardly think our country can even be called racist anymore, when you compare us to Africa, Iraq, and Europe.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Jhawk kinda implies that because people may like college basketball more than the NBA, the NBA must be a niche sport.

College football is about 90x's bigger than the NFL where I live, that doesn't make the NFL a niche sport.

Actually, the college footbal > 90xNFL probably has to do with the fact that OSU could beat the Browns

Brave Sir Robin said...

ESPN biases? Earnhart and Stewert are burned into my brain by ESPN. They show NASCAR highlights and talk about the races as much as they do about real sports.

roboninja said...

"There's nothing sacred about jerseys – at least nothing that the big dollars from sponsors can't buy. NASCAR fans and European soccer fans (who eclipse MLB or NBA fans for passion) don't seem to mind."
Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, and BS. Why should we tha fans care when we see a huge Tide logo on our favorite team's jersey? I mean, we get the privilege to plop down a hunny for a seat to watch the game, buy our jerseys, and watch all the games on TV. Those poor owners, they need another revenue stream and more money. Making millions per year is not as good as making millions + 1. The poor owners and corporate sponsers. Next thing you know, we will be branded with a marketing tat at birth to pay for the hospital fees (which you will still have to pay out the nose for, but still).

Jake C said...

About TO - a man can wish can't he?

And, maybe the 3rd base coach wasn't "waiving" Drew in...but, he definitely wasn't stopping him from going.

MLB and CFB don't only appeal to a certain segment. The perfect example is the number of people who get interested only for playoffs. These are your fringe fans. And, the fact is, there are numerous more fringe fans who tune in to playoff baseball, football, and bowl games, then the Chase for the Cup, or the Masters, or the NHL playoffs, or even the NBA Finals.

PhillyGirl said...

I want to make something clear about the TO saga in Philly. Having lived here throughout the ordeal - from the very beginning, when we thought he was going to Baltimore, at training camp the first and second time, until today - there seems to be some misunderstanding.
I have heard TO say it and some others agree with him - he believes we dislike him because he's a Cowboy. Make no mistake that Philly fans hate the Dallas Cowboys. But Philly fans HATE TO. Not because he went to Dallas, that was just icing on the cake.
Not that I think TO will understand because he's too much of a pompous, ungrateful, egotistical narcissist, but the city hates him. They hate him for what he said and what he did. What he did to our team. The Eagles team is bigger than TO, Donovan, Andy Reid and everyone else. The team gives us hope every year - none of our other franchises do that. And he ruined it. We know football is about business, but every Sunday, for 3+ hours that your team plays, it shouldn't be. He took that away from us.
If there is going to be passion and hatred in the Linc on Sunday, it's because he disgraced our team and the people of this fine city who live for it.

Dan, this is why football is the Big One, all on its own. NBA, MLB and NHL have 5 or 7 game playoff series, so it's the same teams that win. Parity is limited. You can probably predict who is going to win the series (with a few exceptions). CFB doesn't have a playoff, and it's always the top 5-10 teams and they are always the same. But with football, 2001 Patriots, 2002 Bucs, even 2003 Panthers and 2005 Steelers...any. given. sunday.

Brave Sir Robin said...

What was he supposed to do? Tackle him as he rounded third?

jhawkjjm said...

brave sir robin (excellent name by the way)

The way I wrote it does imply that just because more people I know enjoy college than the pros that the pros must be a niche sport. That was poorly written by me. I live in KC so we don't have a pro team, so of course college ball is bigger around here. Now for me I prefer the college game and style to the NBA game. As do many people that I know. So to me, the NBA can't be a "Big" sport when, to me, the game is inferior to its college version.

Now I grew up in Boston and go to watch those 80's celtics teams. Back then the game was a much more team orientated game, that is something the NBA has lost. I feel the game has gone down hill with the rise of Jordan. That's the moment where a player became bigger than the game. I don't think the NBA is a team game anymore, that doesn't seem to appeal to viewers now. Just look at the ratings for the Pistons-Spurs finals from a year or two ago. Awful ratings despite being the two best teams. Just look at all the backlash that's happened from the poor performances the NBA players have displayed the last few years in international competitions. The NBA isn't even the same game that's played in other places. The NBA is pure entertainment now.

The NFL, NCAAF, and MLB are still about the team. Yes there are stars, but the game still depends on the team. No one player has become bigger than the game, and that is why they are the Big 3. I'm not so sure the NBA can say that anymore. Everyone's looking for the next Jordan. The NBA has become about the player not the game.

Richard said...


Maybe this "Big 3" needs a seperate blog. I'd say its still a "Big 4" and include the NBA with NFL, CFB and MLB. As for some other pretenders:

NASCAR: I've never heard of a fan outside the South.

Golf: Might be the single worst game to watch on TV.

Hockey: I didn't even know last night was opening night until SportsCenter this morning.

I'd say the 5th sport in line would be College Basketball, but it only gets complete national attention during the tournament.

Maher said...


are you sure about that? watch the replay. As hunter is blowing the catch jason kendall is stopping at 2nd. Kendall. He's probably not taking 3rd if Hunter pulls up on the ball and plays it on one hop, let alone scoring the go ahead run.

More likely that the A's have runners at 1st & 2nd with 2 outs in a 2-2 game.

Hunter makes that play more often than not (great point on Mike & Mike this a.m. that the Twinkies are so confident in him making that play that the RF didn't back up the play and that's what enabled the 4th run to score).

Eric said...

I hate to point out the obvious, but how can you call the NBA a niche sport and MLB one of the “Big three” when it doesn’t hold a sizable advantage in the ratings? In fact, fewer people watched the World Series last year than the NBA Finals.
Overall, the six-game series for the 2006 NBA Finals averaged 13 million viewers.,0,6354932.story
Last year’s World Series averaged 12,232,200 viewers (an 11.1 rating).
Also – at least adults can play basketball, unlike football and baseball (ok, you CAN play them, but very few actually do. Most play bastardized versions, ie flag football and softball).

As far as NASCAR goes, that really is a niche sport - primarily viewed in the midwest and south, not heavily in urban areas, by whites. The ratings are fine, but it must be understood that when there are fewer events over longer periods of time, ratings will, of course, be higher. If there were 162 NASCAR Races over a 6 month span, methinks the races would draw lower average ratings, don't you?

jhawkjjm said...

Interesting and timely article here about this:

Brian in Oxford said...

Someone, please tell me that Wendell Kim is not Grady's 3rd base coach in LA. Who is, really?

Dan, that reading series was sweet last night. Of course, I've got blisters on both heels from wearing work shoes for the 45-block walk back to grand central. Did the girl in the Jeter shirt get home okay?

Hey, how about a track and field race, the people are the a horse race, the horses are the NASCAR, the cars are the athletes! More people know the cast of "Lost" than Albert Pujols, too....that doesn't make Lost a sport.

(By the way, I've got that on TiVo, please nobody reveal anything!!)

Nobody wants to hear that something the like is a "niche" sport, because it comes off as a personal attack.....just as if I came out and said Metallica or Jay-Z or Reba McIntyre sucks....people who like them, are going to steadfastly defend them.

Lots of old people and executives play golf because of the reduced amount of athleticism required. I've got friends that hate golf, specifically because they don't like the idea that a 60 year old, 300-pound chain smoker would beat us by 25 shots a round.

jhawkjjm said...

Don't know why the full link didn't post. It's on cnnsi and written by their lead NBA writer Jack McCallum

Unknown said...

@ eric

Couldn't the same be said about football? If there was 162 games in the NFL the ratings would be much lower.

I promise that the NASCAR ratings for the next month will be better then the MLB playoff series that they run up against.

Also to say that NASCAR is limited to the midwest and south is short sighted - races that take place in the Northeast (PA, NH, NY) all sell out 100,000+ tickets, and CA has a bunch of races that all sell out, not to mention international races (Mexico City) that sold out like 200,000 tickets.

I'm not saying its the NFL, but it at least deserves to be in the second tier conversation.

Maher said...

As someone who can't stand what the NBA has become I have to say that I'd rather watch LeBron play v. whoever than Dale Jr. drive his car in circles.

The NFL has the #1 spot because of gambling as we all know.

But I don't think you can call the MLB a niche sport when the Yankees sold 4 million tickets this season, unless it is the same 55,000 going to every home game.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

Brian in Oxford...what is the meaning of your name?

Jake C said...

Rich Donnelly is the 3rd base coach and he even admitted he wasn't paying attention (didn't see Drew heading for home right away). That's his JOB! That's what he has 2 arms can waive your right at Kent and put up your left to start telling Drew what to do. PLUS, he could have came half way down the line towards home and put both arms up and SCREAM like many have/still do.

Tim said...

Sorry Chris, for some reason I was thinking the runner was on second and would be trying to score with a play at the plate. That makes the play bigger than I thought, but I still dont blame him for the team losing. The point is, after that play, the Twins were unable to score again.

Brian in Oxford said...

It's my name, combined with the town I live in.

Maher said...

Reality is:

The Big 1 (NFL)

The smaller draws (CFB, MLB, NBA, NASCAR)

And the also rans (Golf, NHL, Olympics, Tennis)

Golf doesn't pull viewers unless Tiger is playing, and playing well. The casual fan will not get up at 5am EST to watch the start of The Open Championship. Golf had a chance in 2000 when everyone was pumped up and Tiger was destroying the field at Pebble and chasing that putt in at the PGA. The media created Tiger slump of 2004-5 killed it.

Josh said...

If you don't watch the NBA, you are racist.

Maher said...


sorry if it looked like I was jumping on you. Skip Bayless was just on and well need I say more?

I think the blame shouldn't fall with any one player, team sport after all. Last I checked T.Hunter didn't pitch for the Twins and give up the runs yesterday or the day before. He's not pulling his weight at the plate (1/8), but you can't get on him alone for costing the Twins the game.

Sure that's the play that makes SC, but again, where was Cuddyer with the backup? There is no reason for Kotsay to score on that hit.

To continue yesterday's debate...the A's scored 5 runs without Big Frank...I thought he and he alone was the reason the A's got where they were :)

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

I was thinking Oxford, bad!

Maher said...

If Notah Begay III can hit balls for 9 hrs a day during his work release for his DUI bust, I'm not sure why Koren can't return kicks for his.

ndyanksfan05 said...

How you leave baseball out of the big four is absurd. It has been setting attendence records for the past several years, the players are alot more recognizable than any NFL players and in terms of people playing the sport, I have yet to see any full pad football leagues for men in their thirties. There are a ton more softball leagues (equivalent to flag football) than flag football leagues. NASCAR - are you serious. You line up twenty nascar racers anywhere on the west or east coast and people might recognize one.

ndyanksfan05 said...

Also Solomonrex - the way you defined the "major sports" was by placing them in niches. Fantasy players for football, blue collar for nascar, executives for golf. Learn what niche means.

Unknown said...

I'll say it once again - the only argument that people ever come up with against NASCAR is - people not from the South don't watch NASCAR.

Well the major markets aren't in Mississippi and NASCAR pulls the second highest ratings of any sport on TV.

NY has major NASCAR races, CA has major NASCAR races. It is not strictly a southern thing.

If you want to say that the limited number of races makes it niche I'm fine with that. If you want to say that driving a car isn't a sport - I'll even take that argument. But saying that only people in the south watch NASCAR is just wrong and that argument doesn't work with me.

Sure there is a big block of people in the South who watch NASCAR but that's like saying only black people watch the NBA, or only white people watch the NHL (which might actually be true).

Zach Brown said...

What about the fact that the Twins were 0-13 with RISP yesterday and 0-15 the day before? Don't you think that's more important than Hunter misplaying a ball?

About Cuddyer--it was a quick, sinking line-drive hit directly to center field. Cuddyer nor White had no time to get into position to back up until it was too late. Maybe Hunter should've got off the turf and tried to run it down.

Darth Bubbster said...

RE: Niche Sports and Corporate Advertizing

Speaking of niche sports--in America at least..I honestly don't really care about soccer. I've tried. In the end, it's meh. I know, I'm a bad world citizen...

That said, I was impressed by a story out of the soccer world. In September, I read a news report that the FC Barcelona soccer club (the team that Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho plays for -- I hear he's pretty good...) made an agreement with UNICEF to DONATE ~ $1.9 million to help children with AIDS in developing countries. They will wear a special logo on their jerseys -- the first time since the club's inception that anything other than the team emblem will appear.

In this age of corporate sponsorship in America, where it seems that everything from stadiums, golf tournaments, half-time shows, two-minute warnings, and seventh inning stretches are all up for sale to the highest bidder, it is fantastic to see a successful team turn the tables and GIVE back rather than rake in more cash.

I have been against the sale of space on NFL and MLB jerseys -- but I'd cheer for any team in America (maybe even the Cowboys -- shudder)if they led the way in this sort of sponsorship. Wouldn't THAT be a wonderful competition -- teams trying to one-up one another to give to the needy??

Unknown said...


that was the worst part of that play and I never understand why that happens. The CF miss plays the ball and instead of jumping up and running after it he just hangs his head and watches the ball roll to the wall.

This happens ALL THE TIME and it looks pathetic. If Manny gets ripped for not running out ground balls, then Torii should be looked at for just sitting on the ground while the ball goes all the way back to the baggy in center.

Geoff-Detroit said...

Umm... there are more softball leagues because getting 10 or so people to play softball is a million times easier than getting a bunch of people who know how play flag football. In softball you don't really need to be athletic but in flag football you still gotta run and be in good shape.

Maher said...


It is hard to market NFL players to the general public since they wear full facemasks when they play...that said, I think everyone knows what Peyton Manning looks like.

Probably more casual fans know his face than what Mr. Baseball Derek Jeter looks like.

If we aren't talking casual fans, then NASCAR/NFL/MLB/NBA players are all equally known. Sure I may only be able to tell you what 10 drivers look like for sure, maybe guess another 5 correctly, but out of 45 drivers that a better ratio than I would do with matching up NON skill players in the NFL.

As for attendance records, NASCAR has more butts in the seats / per event than any sport out there could possibly have. Indy has room for 400,000 ppl. That is Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and Penn State combined for their home openers.

You play softball because you can drink, use aluminum bats, get away from the wife, and it is Title 9 acceptable. Not to mention there is far more standing around for the fat throngs of working class America in Softball than there would be playing flag football. You spend 1/2 of a softball game sitting in the dugout. My buddies smoke while in the field during softball be fair I have seen one of them do it playing football too, but he has issues.

I can't believe I'm defending NASCAR

Maher said...

niche. he's that guy that said god was dead right ND?

Maher said...

@ hi five

great point about the impotent lineup, but I still say that you are taught to back up the CF when he's charging in like that. Hunter SHOULD have gotten up, what happens if he cuts wrong and blows out a knee? where is the backup?

Gary said...

chris an earlier post you ranked football as the big one, then listed others. You didn't even rank NCAA hoops, I'll just assume it was an error of omission and that you don't actually think tennis is more popular than college hoops

Eric said...

@ThirdStringJD – No one is arguing NASCAR is “only” enjoyed in the South, but it is a predominantly rural phenomenon – this may be because there is more space in rural areas in which to “race”/”emulate” the “sport.” Or it could be because NASCAR is a fairly simply-minded “sport” compared to, say, football, and you will tend to find a greater percentage of “simple-minded” people in rural areas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are rocket-scientists out there who enjoy NASCAR, but I’m speaking in generalities here. In any event, it is irresponsible to ignore the fact it is primarily a Southern and Midwest phenomenon.

From the same Forbes article I’m sure you’ve read, I saw that there are only 38 NASCAR contests per year. This is unbelievable. How can anyone use NASCAR ratings to argue for its status when there are only 38 total contests each year? That would be analogous to the entire NBA season being done after 4 days, or the baseball season done after 3. Wow. When viewed in that context, I wouldn’t even put NASCAR on the second tier after my big three (NFL, NBA, MLB). It belongs on the third tier at best.

bicyclebob said...

no one hates the yankees more than shanoof. some things never change

Steve said...

There is only ONE sport in urban (aka: "black") America.

The NBA.

People here in South South Side Chi like the Bears, but every boy and girl knows every NBA player that has a shoe, who they paly for, jersey's et cetera. I hear every day "I can't sleep I want basketball to start."

I know ESPN decided a year or two ago that the NFL is the only sport. But to marginalize the NBA in the manner it has been here worries me. For some heavy reasons.

Maher said...


yeah I screwed up and forgot CBB, then again I'm a Buckeye, so we really don't care about basketball around here unless we're playing michigan or it's tourney time.

Obviously during March it deserves to be in that 2nd position with the ones I named, but there is some drop off during the regular season, no?

Maher said...


don't blame ESPN. blame Vegas. And Pick'em Pools at work. and bookies. and FFL. and Madden07/NCAA07.

though you can blame ESPN for pimping themselves out all day monday for MNF. whores.

Anonymous said...

Dan: thanks for organizing a great reading event last night. I can't wait for the next one.

Brian in Oxford: the girl in the Jeter jersey left around 10:15 with her friend when I mistakenly told her that the game had started. After she left I checked the Blackberry again and saw that it was postponed.

I'm not sure I see the point of arguing about how big different sports are. I like football, hockey, baseball, and basketball in that order. I'll watch any of them depending on how busy/bored I am. Why do we need to rank these sports at all? Unless some of us are network execs with ad time to sell, I don't think it matters much who gets more butts in the seats or more ticket revenue. Although, like "best team ever" or "best player ever" rankings, ranking the big sports leagues makes for entertaining arguments.

Maher said...


wait, NASCAR is more simple minded than baseball? come on. Man-Ram isn't going to win the Nobel anytime soon.

If you want to simplify both sports...

See ball, hit ball.

Get in car, drive in circle.

seems like a push to me.

again, I can't believe I'm defending NASCAR.

Brave Sir Robin said...

NASCAR is popular because of the simplemindness? Football is huge in Texas and Alabama, areas within your simplemindness borders. The thing that defines NASCAR is the sheer HICKESHNESS of the fan base.

Eric said...

@ChrisM - MLB has more strategy than NASCAR, hands down. It's not always about the players knowing what the heck is going on, but everyone that is a part of the game, ie, the managers. Batter-specific shifts, pitching changes, hit and runs, etc., are all part of the cerebral part of the game. MLB strategy is no where near football, but it is above NASCAR, to be sure.

Jen said...

Chris Maher~ You listed every single reason the guys I know STILL play softball!

My brother-in-law played flag football for those reasons as well. He kept some Jim Beam in his duffle if I'm not mistaken. Too bad he moved to AZ and now plays golf more.

Eric said...

@Brave sir robin – football can easily be enjoyed by simple-minded folk; the bone-crushing hits and spectacular athleticism on display obviously appeal to a less intelligent demographic. But unlike NASCAR, football appeals to higher minded folk in other ways – it is a much more exciting version of chess. Play-calling in the NFL is incredibly difficult. You have men with ivy league backgrounds calling plays. This isn’t for the weak minded. That’s the brilliance of the NFL, and football in general; it appeals to everyone!

Anonymous said...

eric, you're looney. TV ratings are the only way to measure this.

NFL only plays a 16 game season. So of course it's ratings look out of whack! But they still make billions, and so does Nascar. In terms of money and viewership, they are up there with college football.

The fact that many corporations are aligned with Nascar because of sponsorships makes it a big deal for people who don't watch the games. That's less true of the other sports.

As for the idea that rural people are simple-minded? Do you have a Master's degree? Do you even know what statistics are? Am I supposed to believe living in NY, Boston or LA would raise my IQ? Or is this just the stupid liberal notion that Liberals=smart people, and urban=liberal, rural= conservative=dumb. So of course Nascar=dumb people squared.

Is bump-drafting, racer/track history, teamwork and pit strategy SOOO much easier to figure out than dribble down court, pass to Shaq, dunk? After all if urban=smart, then basketball is only for geniuses? And football, your stated sport for complex minds, couldn't possibly be popular in Colorado, Nebraska and West Virginia, right?

Maybe you should re-think generalizations that aren't supported by facts and are inherently biased.

Maher said...


yeah you're right, it takes no thought to drive a 750 HP car with 40 others 3 inches off your doorhandles at 200 MPH.

and you don't have to have any engineering knowledge to design those cars. and shoot, I bet since you can change your own oil, that there's nothing to setting up a car for a race.

what state do you live in? because you have single-handledly pushed it to the top of your "simple minded" ratings.

jhawkjjm said...

Who said that in order for a sport to be a "Big" one that you had to be able to play it? If that was the case then bowling, poker, and golf would be "Big" sports.

Maher said...


I didn't say softball wasn't FUN! :) just gave reasons why it is more popular than flag football.

the drinking sports (softball, volleyball, darts, xbox) are loads of fun to play :)

Anonymous said...

Steve, I love the NBA, and I'm looking forward to it (except that I cheer for the ... Knicks). But the reality is that it's getting less popular, not more popular. LeBron is the big new star, and as a high-schooler he had a Hummer, and I find that hard to swallow.

All the off-court stuff becomes worse every year. I love how athletic it is. I love the personalities and seeing every emotion, every move. But the officiating is suspicious, and the actual play is inferior to the international product, and vastly inferior to previous decades.

LeBron went from the next Magic to the next Jordan, and that's a problem. Wade became the Italian soccer team. Carmelo (go SU!) appeared in "Stop Snitching". The things that make these guys popular in the city don't sell anywhere else. And these are the guys I like, like I really like AI. But he has niche appeal, like country music and Mexican soccer, they just don't have broad appeal.

Steve said...

As we've seen in the last 2 elections that elected Bush, there are kinda a lot of people in the south and midwest. So saying just the south and midwest watch nascar doesnt mean it's not a major sport, that's a huge area. Guys, not everyone lives on the coasts, there are a TON of people in rural america.

Badass Of The Year said...

Wow, lots going on today!

It's sucks that Hunter's misplay cost them the game, but that's a play he's gonna make more often than not so I don't fault him for diving. Though I do agree he should've jumped back up instead of laying there wallowing.

On the Kent, Drew thing that was just stupidity, but you gotta give some love to Green for making that throw to Paulie. Screw you Mel Gibson.

On the TO thing, from what I saw on SC, it seemed like in the press conference McNabb took more of a dig at TO than TO at the Eagles. And he know they hated him before he signed, he's aware of the parking lot funeral. I think the Philly fans just need to let go of the hate, you'll feel so much better.

As for the Big 3 or 4, NFL, MLB, NCAA FB, I totally agree, I'm not ready to slide hoops down just yet, and I certainly wouldn't put it over golf. Not that I dislike golf, esp. if Adam Scott is playing (yum!) but I'll take a fast break over chip shots anyday.

Solomonrex wrote:
Basketball is a niche sport. Few adults play it, few watch it.

I have to disagree with Dan: NFL, College Football, Nascar and golf are the real big 4. Everyone knows the major players, the big moves, etc. in these sports. The golf records and Tiger chasing them is starting to supplant the home run record of baseball (for good reason). Everyone plays golf.

Sorry dude, I think putting on a pair of kicks, grabbing a ball and heading over to your local park or gym at any given time of the day is way more accessible than investing in a pair of clubs, finding a range with the not so cheap fees and having the time to do it during daylight hours.

The decline of the NBA is due to the crappy players with the big contracts that water down the league. The fact that if you don't have cable, it's really hard to follow the sport, so you can't expect fans to have much of an attachment when playoffs roll around on the major networks, unlike the NFL that is on free tv multiple times a week. And I also blame Isaiah Thomas & Scott Layden, because if the team in the center of the media universe was still a powerhouse there would be alot more buzz.

I grew up in the south, so I never got into hockey. But guess what, I never got in to Nascar either. I struggle to name even 5 drivers, much less identify them. I went to one race at the TX Motor Speedway and it was brutal. Hot, loud, and cars driving in circles for hours. The appeal of this sport is lost on me. But to each their own.

Also I think the ads on jerseys would suck. There's enough corporate sponsorship as it is with all the stadiums named after airlines, banks or whatever. Then the Bowls can't just be Bowls anymore, but prefixed with cell providers or pantry staples. You gotta draw the line somewhere.

Oh and Danmega, SC did show the other 2 non-postseason plays where 2 were tagged out at the plate.

Eric said...

@Solom – There are 512 regular season NFL games. Then you have an additional 11 playoff games. The NFL has 523 regular season contests per year. As mentioned above, NASCAR has 38 contests per year. It doesn’t take an economist or statistician to observe that NASCAR contests are a limited resource compared to NFL games. I do not even need to present numbers for MLB and NBA. It is shortsighted and foolish to think that the scarcity of NASCAR contests does not artificially boost its television ratings when compared to other sports.

I have no idea what you “The fact that” sentence is supposed to mean.

I do not have a Masters Degree. I have a Juris Doctorate.

I’m not sure you read my post correctly. Let me slow this down for you: there is an infinite amount of data that shows intelligent people tend to be drawn to bigger cities because there is a larger cultural diversity in larger areas and a greater exchange of information. This makes sense, as intelligent people tend to seek information more often than dullards. This, of course, does not mean that everyone in a city is smart and everyone in rural areas is dumb. That’s silly. But when dealing with statistics, all you can offer are trends. I offered a trend. You don’t have believe that it is causal, but please do not so severely misconstrue what I have written as to make yourself look foolish.

I also have not said or even indicated that there is no strategy at play during a NASCAR event. I merely said it was less so than football and, in a subsequent post, MLB. As far as your Colorado… West Virginia comment goes, I refer you to my last post where I specifically stated football appeals to everyone because it involves spectacular physical play as well as mental play.

@CM – I live in Wisconsin. NASCAR is pretty big here. I am, by social convention, forced to watch it on occasion. It is a fine event, but I would b less than honest if I agreed with your implication that it takes brains to drive in the conditions you offered. There are strategies involved, to be sure, but any time and speed sensitive activity requires trained responses much more than thought. Defensive players in the NFL are taught to react rather than think during a play. I imagine the same is true of NASCAR drivers when a group is packed in tightly. Mr. Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” is a brilliant book that discusses this topic in greater detail.

As far as your engineering argument is concerned, it is worthless in this context. No one watches the engineers design the cars, just as no one watched Mr. Bill Walsh diagram plays. What a silly thing to bring up!

BLUE said...

Basketball is a niche sport while baseball is in the big 3? Maybe you should check tv ratings and attendence. That might be the dumbest comment you've ever made. You're right, NBA is a niche, that's why the entire world is trying to play their game.

Stooncer said...

There is no denying that football is huge in the U.S., maybe even considered the #1 sport. However, thinking about this issue on a global scale might prove that it is actually the niche sport.

Basketball is big in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Baseball is big in Asia and North and South America.

How about football? It is huge in North America, but where else? Sure, we have the NFL Europe, but that is a contrived attempt by the NFL to sell the game to the Europeans.

Anyplace other than the U.S. if you mention football people immediately think of soccer.

Curtis (Indy) said...

I know you're a writer Dan and like all journalists that I've read we've had to listen to how much of an injustice it is for the book writers to be in prison. I'm not shocked at all by it. But there is a significant difference in the cases. Anderson not testifying hurts only a handful of people and most obvious Barry Bonds. While the book writers by not giving the name hurt millions of americans. Let me give you a nice little for instance here.

I'm walking down the street and I see your wife and kids and I'm like oh wow look it's Dan's family. Then all of a sudden a man comes out of no where and shoots them both and kills them. I get a great look at the guy and I clearly know who it is. I'm asked to give grand jury testimony, but I refuse. Why do I refuse? Because of your book writers. Because of them media are allowed to get grand jury testimony no matter how illegal or what harm other people can be put in. So no I'm not testify because Joe Journalist can pay someone to steal my testimony it gets back to the guy who committed the murders and offs me to because a couple of guys wanted to write a book. Let them rot in jail.

Stooncer said...

Also forgot to mention that basketball and baseball are played professionally on another continent, Australia. But there they have "Australian Rules" football. Clearly, our version of football is the niche sport.

How say you?

Curtis (Indy) said...

Sorry Dave.Gordon. Not all sports fans watch MLB. Actually baseball doesn't matter to most people in about 45 states. It really only matters to people in Boston and New York and Chicago. Oh and even though ESPN isn't a state they care about it more than anyone for reasons beyond my comprehension. Baseball is THE dying (I'd argue dead) sport. NBA is heading that path but baseball is a long ways ahead of it. I consider myself to be just about as big a sports fan as there is. I will watch without hesitation NFL, NBA, MLS, EPL, CFB, CBB, PGA, and Major tennis tournaments. I will never even stop on a baseball game and if sportscenter is showing 1 of it's 10 million baseball highlights I will not watch. I'm not nearly alone in this either. Baseball is alive only because ESPN is drilling it home night after night during the spring and summer.

Mega said...

As for the slowest baserunner in the MLB discussion, here are a few players that can be considered among the "slowest":

Paul Konerko (runs like he has a piano on his back)
Frank Thomas (on a bum ankle)
Jason Giambi (slow)
David Ortiz (slower)

Who does everyone think would be the slowest ever?

I'd say big Cecil Fielder, but he made himself look fast when he chugged around the bases. As Homer Simpson once said "look at that flubber fly!"

Shums said...

The sports I follow are entirely determined by the place I live. Being a Utah native, the NBA is what I follow most, because the Jazz are our only major team. And I'm a young white male, in a very white state.

Meanwhile, we have no local NFL or MLB team, so there is MUCH less attention paid (and news coverage given) to those sports, as a general rule. The NFL is such a juggernaut that it can't really be ignored, but the state has no geographical loyalty to any team at all (certainly not the Broncos).

College football rules Utah from August to December, and the NBA from January to June. The summer goes largely unnoticed as far as sports are concerned. Although we do take a healthy interest in golf.

For my area, the rankings would go:
1. CFB
2. NBA
3. NFL
4. Golf

Shums said...

I meant to add: it's probably similar for many other small-market areas. Just depends on the local team.

Eric said...

Excellent point by Theo. I would also like to add that, as far as defining "niche" sports, I think it is best left to a completely subjective test: does the average sportscenter viewer watch the highlights of it? When NASCAR comes on, I would bet most Sportscenter viewers tune out or hit the bathroom, etc. Meanwhile, I would bet that most people tolerate highlights of other sports (NFL, NBA, College FB and BB, MLB) whether they like the game or not. That's the test, but there's no way to really know, given everyone's own biases.

Brian in Oxford said...

you're right. In Connecticut, CFB is a complete after-thought, dominated by division 2 and 3 teams, unless the Attorney General is suing the ACC for stealing their Big East buddies. Meanwhile, CBB is ridiculously huge. But they're all afterthoughts to Sox-Yanks. And since ESPN is right there in the middle....of course it seems big to them.

Look at Fox Sports. They're not northeast-based, and they cover college football a lot more than baseball. College baseball (ping-ping-ping!) is a big draw for them....not even close on ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Eric, you're not being very smart in three ways.

1. You have no numbers that show that American cities attract smarter people in the internet age.
2. You have no numbers that show Nascar appeals to dumber people.
3. Most of the football games take place at the same time.

As for your point about intelligence and Nascar, just say "Nascar viewers are less educated on average", then cite a number and be done with it. I don't know if it's true, but your outrageous generalizations demonstrate how easy it is to get a juris doctorate. And how arrogant lawyers are.

Your education is irrelevant, because it wasn't part of the argument. My intelligence was called into question as a Nascar fan and a rural bumpkin. I called you biased (and you are) and NOW I think you're simple minded with numbers, since you make the astounding causal claim that smart people go to cities, yet have no research to back this up.

How about this? Redmond, Washington, Mountain View, California, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Cary, North Carolina all have some of the smartest people in the world, and none of them are city centers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and let me slow THIS down for you:
1. There isn't an "infinite" amount of data on ANYTHING.
2. Education does not equal intelligence. You're talking about intelligence, and we don't have good data on intelligence in the United States, because we don't require people to take IQ tests for the census. So, not only do you not have "infinite" data, you don't have a leg to stand on.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eric said...

SOLOM – You’re not worth debating. I will leave you with this, in the hopes that you actually read and understand it – I did not cite any statistics regarding population demographics because it is simply absurd to come to any other conclusion. If I related in a post that the sum of eleven and four was fifteen, I would not think to have to cite a math book to prove it. There are simply no scholars of any discipline that would disagree with me on that statement, and I find it troubling that you take issue with it. Once again, I did not say or imply that rural areas are filled with dummies and urban areas only allow brainiacs to enter. But it is impossible to dispute that cities attract a disproportionate number of intelligent people. Since statistics seem to be all you care about, how’s this – one in six rural-dwelling adults (16.6%) have a 4 year college degree. However, the national average is 27.2% (just enter any state and you can get the national average). That means that urban areas have a population which has a 4 year degree in a GREATER percent than 27.2, as rural America (at 16.6) is included in that figure. Using a conservative estimate, there are 2 college educated adults in urban areas for every 1 college educated adult in a rural area (on a per capita basis, of course). So, yes, I wasn’t “being dumb,” as you so colorfully put it.

Secondly, see the above numbers to show that NASCAR appeals to a generally less-educated audience (as its fan base is far more rural than urban).

Third – yes, most NFL games take place at the same time. That, of course, does not affect my analysis at all. In fact, it enhances it. If the Packer game gets a 5 rating and the 49ers game gets a 4 rating, that means, roughly, 9.9 million people were watching the NFL at that point in time. Add all those numbers up for all the games, and you have quite a lot of people watching the games. The same can be said for MLB, NBA, etc. When NASCAR gets a 5 rating, that’s all it has – 5.5 million viewers. Not all that impressive, considering.

Finally, I hope you have begun to see I was not making any outrageous generalizations. I was making a cogent argument. You should try it sometime! And I brought up my JD because you asked me if I had a Master’s degree. I was merely answering your question. You shouldn’t get bent out of shape over someone answering, honestly, one of your questions. Your last paragraph of your 2:30 post may very well be true, but nothing I have said, today or ever, contradicts that. Perhaps you need to read more carefully. Good day.

Anonymous said...

You know Eric, I hope you keep reading, because you could use the education.

1. Ratings can't be added across regions! As a percentage, they're averaged.
2. Here's why education doesn't equal intelligence:
Minorities have less education, on average. This is due to lack of money, not a genetic lack of intelligence.
3. This casual relationship of economics affecting education also explains the rural/suburban/urban education gap. EVERYONE (see how I'm turning your debating technique against you? eh?) knows that EDUCATED people in rural areas leave to make more money. Not because of "idea exchanges". That's why you get an education, you know? Money? Not "idea exchanges" from diversity.

So there's no difference in rural/suburban/urban intelligence for the same reason there's no difference in white/black intelligence. Clear enough?

And btw, educated people are, on average, found in suburbs now, not cities. You know, since the 50's?

I admitted that Nascar probably appeals to a lower educated audience, didn't I? Maybe you need to read more carefully.

You did insult people by describing us as simpletons. But then, I'm not a trained professional communicator like you, I shouldn't challenge your craft.

kaimanawa said...

Coming from an international perspective (though I grew up in the USA), I can't understand why the USA loves the NFL/College Football so much. It's a sport with next to ZERO interest outside North America. Even baseball had a go at having a "world cup", but I think the world cup of American Football would be a team sport where the USA could not possibly lose.

Personally, I'd class myself as a sports fan who can't stand the NFL. Why? Mainly the start-stop nature of the sport. After 3 1/2 to 4 hours, you've only watched about 30-40 minutes of real action and about 2 1/2 to 3 hours of athletes standing around in a huddle or waiting for TV adverts. ZZZZZzzzzzz....

This lack of interest in the sport itself really adds to the argument that gambling is driving US fan interest.

You could make a similar case that this is the main driver behind Euro-interest in their football (a.k.a. soccer). I guess a good question that I'd like to ask is whether we think universal (not niche) sports interest can only be achieved by gambling interests.

Maher said...


if you are going to play into stereotypes, then you won't be offended if someone said "all lawyers are is a proven fact". Of course I would only say that if I thought for a second that anyone's e-credentials meant anything to anyone.

check your math on the TV ratings. if the GB v. DET game gets a 5 share in Detroit, that doesn't mean 5 million detroit households are watching. There aren't 5 million detroit households. one can argue if there are households in detroit, but that is another discussion. It means 5% of households in Detroit, watching TV, are watching that game. you can't add up the #'s like you did.

a NATIONAL share of 5.5 means ~ that many people (in millions) are watching, out of the 99 million households with TVs in the USA.

click sports. wow. 2.4 share for WWE, 1.5 for MLB. By your logic WWE viewers are smarter than MLB, since they were able to turn on their TVs more betterer.

MP said...

thirdstringjd: I know I'm responding way late on this, but I must respond to a couple of your points.

Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge NASCAR fan. I have been since 1991. My beef is with the fact that you claim it to be one of the "Big 4" sports, or at least a bigger niche sport. My argument is that it has a ways to go.

"NASCAR has a basic cable channel all to themselves (SPEED)"
-No they don't. SPEED carries all sorts of racing and has never been solely devoted to NASCAR. Plus, SPEED is not available to many extended basic cable subscribers.

There are two races per week (Busch Series/Nextel Cup) and both sell out the stadium (100,000+ spectators)
-Again, no they don't. Since ticket prices jacked up with the spread of ths sport's popularity, races at Atlanta, Charlotte, California, and Darlington have not been sellouts. Ticket prices are way too high, and I know that's the reason, but it hurts the sport. Moreover, I have never seen a sold out Busch Series race.

I will say this to those who still say, "I have never seen a NASCAR fan outside of the South": Good for you, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm in Illinois, and I buck the trend by being a NASCAR fan. NASCAR fans are growing, and they're not going away. Deal with it.

But the sport can still make many improvements, no doubt.