What team was part of most watched World Series game of all-time? Hint: Think small market

Nope, it wasn’t the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers.

The answer: Kansas City-Philadelphia for Game 6 of the 1980 World Series. The Phillies victory over the Royals did a 40 rating with a 60 share.

Let me repeat that again: a 40 rating and 60 share are Super Bowl-like numbers.

Yes, the small-market Royals participated in the most-watched Series game of all time.

The television universe was much smaller back then, but still 54.9 million viewers tuned in to a World Series game on NBC. Overall, that Series averaged a 32.8 rating and 56 share. Fox would do handsprings if the current Series did one-third of those numbers.

Back then, nobody focused on Kansas City being a small-market team, ranking 31st overall. That’s the common narrative today.

In 1980, sports fans watched the World Series because it was the … Continue Reading

Rice, Lardner, Runyon: When true giants roamed press box at World Series

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on the sportswriter equivalent of Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio covering the 1932 World Series.


If I could go back to a moment in sports history, I definitely would place myself in Wrigley Field on Oct. 1, 1932.

After being fully immersed in writing my book, Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery Behind Baseball’s Greatest Home Run, it would be great to determine if Babe Ruth really pointed to centerfield during Game 3 of the Yankees-Cubs World Series. However, I also have another reason.

As a sportswriter, I would have given anything to be in that Wrigley Field press box.

I dedicated a chapter in the book to what the sportswriters wrote, or didn’t write, about Ruth’s “Called Shot.” In the early days of radio, and way … Continue Reading


Fox needs a Kansas City win in Game 2; Opener was dreadful

Well, that was fairly terrible.

The only compelling thing about Game 1 was wondering how much money James Shields was costing himself on the free agent market with his dismal performance. Probably time to rethink the “Big Game” nickname.

The game was essentially over before the Royals came to bat, as the Giants’ big first inning sucked all that feel-good energy out of the Kansas City fans.

The game did a 8.0 overnight rating, down 15 percent from 8.6 in 2013′s Game 1.

Actually considering how bad the game was at a numbing 3:32 pace, the rating was higher than I expected. You know there was major tune-out when the Giants went up 5-0 in the fourth, and the game was past the 90-minute mark. Snooze city.

So perhaps there is some potential for ratings if Kansas City can rebound … Continue Reading

Kornheiser on Ben Bradlee: ‘King Arthur in the newroom’; Wanted strong sports section for Post

The tributes are flowing in for Ben Bradlee, a journalism hero if ever there was one. While he always will be tied to Watergate, he also was an avid sports fan. He recognized the importance of building a strong sports section for the Washington Post.

Under the direction of sports editor George Solomon, Bradlee’s Post sports sections excelled with writers such as Thomas Boswell, Tony Kornheiser, Dave Kindred, Michael Wilbon, John Feinstein, Christine Brennan, Sally Jenkins and many more.

Solomon in today’s Post:

“When you’d be beaten by another paper (you’d make sure it did not happen often) on a story that interested Ben, he’d tear out the story and, with a red question mark, write: ‘What’s this?’”

I found this quote from Kornheiser on Bradley:

“I cannot describe to you what I felt, and I’m sure that so many, … Continue Reading

New 30 for 30: When Willis, Clyde and Knicks rocked the Garden

Bill Russell’s great Celtics teams were a bit before my time. So some of my first basketball memories were formed by the great Knicks teams in the late ’60s, early ’70s.

Tonight’s new 30 for 30 pays tribute that team and that era in “When The Garden Was Eden” (ESPN, 9 p.m.)

I did not have a chance to see the screener, but Ben Koo of Awful Announcing raved about the film in his review.

Here is the trailer.

A clip on Phil Jackson.

The magic of playing in The Garden.

l… Continue Reading

Notre Dame still No. 1: In the ratings, that is: ABC pulls big number for Florida State game

Once again, Notre Dame showed it still is the king when it comes to drawing viewers.

The Notre Dame-Florida State game on ABC pulled an 8.5 overnight rating of major markets on Saturday night; one national ratings point is worth over 1 million homes. Full ratings will be out tomorrow.

The rating was the best of the year for college football thus far. According to Sports Media Watch, the 8.5 rating is the fourth-highest in the eight-year history of ABC’s Saturday night package. Of course, two of the other games involved the Irish: the Notre Dame-USC games in 2006 and 2012 both did a 9.6 and Ohio State-Texas in 2006 at 8.8.

Notre Dame’s large following in Chicago, the nation’s No. 3 market, helped drive the rating. The game did a 10.4 in Chicago, peaking at 15.7 during the closing … Continue Reading

Manning interview with Costas: There will be only one Brett Favre

I wanted to share the highlights of Bob Costas’ interview with Peyton Manning on NBC’s “Football Night in America” prior to Manning breaking the touchdown pass record last night.

Kudos to Costas for coming up with a new way to get insights from Manning about the record. He asked him for his thoughts about the previous QBs who held the record.

As usual, Manning showed his knack for always saying the right thing.

First Costas started with a story of interviewing Sammy Baugh.

Bob Costas: “One of the greatest days in my professional sports career was an afternoon I got to spend with Sammy Baugh in Rotan, Texas. It was about 15 years ago. An interesting story about how I got there. We flew in to Snyder, Texas, but there were no rental cars in Snyder. So we drove from … Continue Reading

DVR alert: Moving documentary on Nebraska’s Brook Berringer on BTN

Brook Berringer, who spent his senior year as a back-up quarterback, was such an uncommon young man, Nebraska erected a statue of him in front of its stadium.

BTN tells his story in a moving documentary, “Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer.” The film airs Saturday after the Nebraska-Northwestern game at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET. It also re-airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET

Berringer began the 1994 season as the Huskers’ backup quarterback but was thrust into the starting role when Heisman Trophy candidate Tommie Frazier was diagnosed with blood clots. Berringer helped lead the team to seven straight wins and a berth in the Orange Bowl against Miami. While Frazier returned to start the game, Berringer entered in the second quarter and helped spark a comeback. The win capped off the undefeated season, and gave Nebraska Head Coach Tom Osborne his first … Continue Reading

Royal sweep: Short series not good for networks, baseball

Yes, Kansas City is a great story.

However, the Royals would have been a better story for baseball and TBS if they had won the ALCS in seven games, not four.

Four-game sweeps are no good.

The Giants also will be bad for Fox Sports 1′s business if they close out the Cardinals in five games tonight.

While the games have been mostly great, this isn’t a good postseason for baseball when it comes to maximizing drama.

Baseball truly wins with series that go the distance. The biggest ratings typically come for Games 6 and 7 of the LCS and World Series and a Game 5 in the division series. The audiences really check in for the one-and-done games.

Consider this: with Kansas City and Baltimore completing sweeps in the division series, and the Royals going 4-0 against the Orioles, … Continue Reading

Bill Simmons’ brand: Is it big enough for him to be successful without ESPN?

Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir write about the future of Bill Simmons at ESPN. They cite sources as saying Simmons is “furious” about being given a three-week suspension in the wake of his comments about Roger Goodell.

From the story:

If Simmons were to leave ESPN, he could move to another media conglomerate, such as Fox, or to a digital media giant like Yahoo or AOL. (He actually first made his name blogging for AOL for $50 a week.)

It seems more likely that Simmons would want to create a multiplatform business of his own. Hypothetically, anyway, it could include a production studio that makes sports films and documentaries for a distributor like HBO or Netflix; a podcast network; a website; and maybe a YouTube channel.

Simmons will have to weigh the profile, access and guaranteed salary he gets from

Continue Reading

Stopwatch patrol: Hey, two relatively fast LCS games

Readers of this space know all about my crusade to get baseball to pick up the pace. Usually, I am complaining about the numbing length of games, especially in the postseason.

So in the interest of fairness, I am glad to point out that something unusual happened yesterday: Two relatively fast LCS games.

Kansas City’s 2-1 victory over Baltimore came in under three hours at 2:55. Granted in 1964, a 2-1 game would have been finished in 1:55. But in the modern era, we have seen plenty of 2-1 games push the 3:30-3:40 mark.

The brisk pace was a nice change from the first two games which went 4:37 (in 10 innings) and 4:17.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s 5-4 win over St. Louis in 10 innings checked in at 3:10. Obviously, the game would have broke the three-hour mark if it … Continue Reading