You know it. I know it. The MLB knows it. We all know it.
The World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals has a small chance of being as exciting as last year's. Two small market teams plus bad weather isn't a great combination for getting on your giddy-up for a Fall Classic.
Plus, the ratings have spoken. America found better things to do during the two league championship series, which drew far fewer television viewers than last year. The NLCS on TBS, with the St. Louis Cardinals beating the Milwaukee Brewers in six games, averaged a 2.9 rating. That was down 43 percent from the 2010 ALCS on the cable channel, when the six-game Rangers-Yankees series averaged a 5.1.
It gets better. The ALCS on Fox between Texas and the Detroit Tigers averaged a 4.4 over six games, down 20 percent from the 5.5 for the six-game Giants-Phillies NLCS on the network last season.
What's the common denominator here, you ask? The answer is big market teams, and by extension the popular teams, not playing. The New York Yankees, whom the Tigers knocked out in the ALDS, and the Philadelphia Phillies, whom the Cardinals knocked out in the NLDS, got their seasons and World Series grudge match hopes cut short by two teams whose payrolls are one and two on the list.
Now how can the MLB possibly salvage some ratings, knowing even the sports industry is feeling the effects of the economic recession?
The answer to that is dedicating Game 1 between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals to veterans and their families, with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden in attendance, which the MLB announced Monday. That may get some more Rangers fans, Cardinals fans, veterans, political pundits and government officials to tune in, but getting more total baseball fans in America to tune in might still be a longshot.
With all this said, it's up to you America to watch this series. There are a handful of story lines to follow. Can the Texas Rangers take the next step and win the World Series? How will the ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz perform? Will the Rangers' bullpen continue to dominate? On the Cardinals end, will Albert Pujols be playing his final series as a Cardinal? Can the Cardinals win their second World Series in six seasons?
Going back to what I said above, this series won't be as exciting as last year's. But, read in between the lines. That still doesn't mean there won't be any excitement at all.
Both the Rangers and the Cardinals have been streaky ever since the month of September. The Rangers won 14 of their last 16, while the Cardinals won 18 of their last 26 to beat the Atlanta Braves for the NL wild card spot by one game.
So, both teams have momentum going with effective pitching and balanced lineups.
Here's the downside. They might just be mirror images of each other.
Both teams ranked in the top six in runs, batting average, on base percentage and slugging during the regular season. In terms of pitching, the Cardinals were 12th in ERA, while the Rangers were right behind them at 13th.
We truly won't know how exciting the series will be until it's actually finished. But, what we do know is there's no clear-cut favorite or clear-cut underdog this time around...which I guess makes for all the more excitement.