2010 World Series: Rated MB for Mind-Boggling

2010 World Series: Rated MB for Mind-Boggling

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
3:18 PM
By Joe Collins

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, as they ended decades of misery by winning the World Series last night over the Texas Rangers. Their win was the first by the franchise since 1954, when the team was based in New York. Im guessing you noticed this. Maybe? Maybe not?

I like to think that the newsroom chatter at Comcast SportsNet Chicago serves as a fairly accurate gauge when it comes to interest and excitement levels in regards to local and national sports. Here is a sampling of what was said around the water cooler and copy machines Monday and Tuesday:

Can you believe Brett Favre? What a goof!How about that Bulls comeback the other night!?! And did you see what Luol Deng did against Portland?Randy Moss got dumped by the Vikings? My fantasy team is wrecked! Again!The Hawks are going to go on a big winning streak soon.The Tampa Bay Bucs are 5-2? And tied for first? And the Raiders beat the Seahawks 33-3? This year is crazy!

But one comment seemed to resonate louder and clearer above all the others. And its one thats been part of a common theme in the hallways and around the cubicles over the last few weeks or so:

I think I watched about five pitches of the World Series this year.

And you probably havent spent much time watching it either.

Is it just me or has the World Series fallen to insurance seminar-excitement levels? Maybe its because Chicago didnt have a team playing on the biggest stage this year. Or that the two teams duking it out were west of the Mississippi and had less than stellar playoff histories. Or because the two teams dont have Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies attached.

Or maybe its something greater.

To me, the world of sports is like a typical high school dance. Its pretty clear that the cool kids represent the NFL. They dance better, show off more and, naturally, draw more attention. Theyre the popular ones. College basketball, college football, hockey and the NBA represent the middle class: Likable and loyal. And then you have soccer and UFL representing the kids that are considered strange by some, wildly popular by others and simply intriguing by many. And then you have baseballthe kids who used to dominate the hallways and are now just looking up at the bigger, stronger popular kids in football jerseys.

I cannot remember a time where, aside from the onlookers in Dallas and the Bay Area and a few others across the country, that sports fans have cared so little about the game of baseball. The numbers back up a disturbing trend. Take a look at these mind-boggling statistics:

Locally, Mondays World Series clincher was a virtual dead-heat ratings-wise with the regular season Monday Night Football gameColts vs. Texans. Both games peaked at around an 11 (ratings point language). Nationally, although the World Series beat MNF 10.6 to 8.6, the game five rating was down 17 from last years Yankees-Phillies game 5.

On Sunday night, game 4 of the World Series and Sunday Night Footballs Steelers-Saints game went head to head. The World Series game drew a 10.4 rating nationally (which means 10.4 percent of TV households). Steelers-Saints drew an 11.8. The numbers were even more spaced out in the Chicago market. Baseball racked up a 7.26 rating. Football trumped it, scoring a 10.48. At one point (8:45pm quarter hour), football owned a 13.04-6.82 advantage.

Saturdays World Series Game 3 drew a 6.7 national rating, the second lowest rating ever for a World Series contest (game 3 of the 08 World Series, a late-starting, rain-soaked contest between the Phillies and Rays scored the lowest).

What do you think? Have the fantasy footballs and survivor pools of the world eliminated your craving for championship baseball? Is a 3 hour, 15 minute regular season football game just more intriguing than a playoff baseball game of the same length? Is baseball just too slow and boring? Do we not have the patience to sit through, not only a nine-inning game, but a fivesixor even seven-game series? Have you ever thought the day would come where a regular season football game would draw the same or more viewers than a World Series game? Twice?

The scary part of this World Series is that they had the perfect storyline in place: the Giants hadnt claimed a World Series title since 1954. The Rangers havent won anything period. One franchise was going to break through! And they couldnt sell this? Can you imagine if the Pirates and Royals were to shock everyone and get to the World Series? What would happen then?

I think the gap between baseball and football is only going to get bigger. Theyve been the popular kids at the dance for quite some time now. And the baseball kids are looking at their shoes by the punch bowl when a slow song comes on. If only they could get a hot one to come along and ask for a dance.

Or something like that.

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

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“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.

Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member


Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member

Illinois announced Thursday the establishment of a university athletics hall of fame, and who better than Dick Butkus to be the first inductee?

According to the announcement, Illinois has discussed creating an athletics hall of fame to honor past student-athletes for years, but this is the first time it's been acted upon — not necessarily a surprise now that Josh Whitman, a former Illinois football player, is now in charge of the department.

"The University of Illinois has an incredible and storied history in athletics," Whitman said in the announcement. "Legendary names in sports history are found throughout the Illini record books, and we are excited to honor them in our new Hall of Fame. Since the athletic program's inception in 1890, some of the world's greatest athletes have competed in the orange and blue. Ultimately, as we begin to populate the Hall of Fame, our collection of recognized greats will compare favorably with that of any institution in the nation."

Butkus, of course, is the obvious choice to be the first announced member of the hall of fame's inaugural class.

Regarded by many as the best linebacker and defensive football player ever, Butkus spent three seasons in Champaign, twice a unanimous All-American selection. Playing both center and linebacker at Illinois, he finished in the top six in Heisman Trophy voting in 1963 and 1964, a shocking accomplishment for someone playing a position other than quarterback, running back or receiver.

Butkus made 374 tackles in three seasons and is one of just two players — the other being Red Grange — to have his number retired at Illinois. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (thanks to his remarkable career with the Bears), and the annual award for the best linebacker in college football is named after Butkus.

"The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life," Butkus said in the announcement. "I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I'm very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor."

The Illini will announce the entire inaugural class in February, with induction coming next September.