Bulls of the week
From the opening of spring training in February to the World Series in late October, the Major League Baseball season is the longest in professional team sports.
Spanning more than nine months, it is a veritable marathon punctuated by an average of 25 games in one month of exhibition play in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, a six-month regular season of 162 games and at least four rounds and up to 20 games of post-season play. As such, it is a roller coaster of attrition in the dog days of summer and in the pennant races and wild card chases of early fall.
The streaky New York Yankees are among those that are hot when it counts most, having won eight of their last 10 going into the weekend and putting themselves firmly in the first wild card position in the American League. In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals won a franchise record 17 straight games to clinch the second wild card this week.
Meanwhile, at 18-8, the Seattle Mariners won more games than any other team in the AL in September, including nine of their last 10 and 11 of their last 13. Written off two weeks ago, the Mariners are right in the thick of things in a potential photo finish involving the Boston Red Sox and, if they take care of business against the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Those two wild cards in each league increase the chances that games will matter on the last of 26 regular season weekends.
The San Francisco Giants appear poised to outlast the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, but there’s still just two games separating them. That bicoastal and multi-generational rivalry is red-hot as they have the two best records in baseball, both having crossed the 100-win milestone.
Neither L.A. nor St. Louis are backing into the NL wild card. They’ve clearly earned their way there.
And in the AL, it’s still possible that a tiebreaker and possibly two are required before we even get to the one-game, sudden death wild card game.
The more the merrier if you’re commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB, not to mention national and local media rights holders and team and league corporate sponsors.
Bears of the week
Increasing audience fragmentation and declining revenues have been a real thing for conventional media for much of the past two decades, as has been the resulting compression of the workforce in television, radio and newspapers. I
t’s not a new story, to the point where we’ve become somewhat numb to the layoffs caused by the new digital economy. That raised its ugly head again this week with another round of layoffs at Rogers Sportsnet, in particular on the radio side of the equation at Fan 590 in Toronto, Sportsnet 990 in Calgary and Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver.
While there is something to the notion of redefining radio as “audio” across multiple platforms and devices — as per the rationale provided by Sportsnet this week — it is always tough to see and feel the human cost of the ever-changing media landscape and to lose the familiar voices and faces that have earned their way into our day-to-day lives.
Marketing communications executive and sport business commentator Tom Mayenknecht is a principal in Emblematica Brand Builders and the host of The Sport Market on BNN Bloomberg Radio 1410 and TSN Radio nationally. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket
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