MLB still has its national pastime muscles.
It flexed them in the World Series TV ratings. The Chicago Cubs-Cleveland Indians seven-game series was a win-win for MLB and Fox.
Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night – an 8-7, 10-inning thriller won by Chicago – scored a 25.2 rating. For comparison, Game 7 of the NBA Finals with LeBron James and Steph Curry did an 18.9 TV rating.
MLB’s Game 7 topped 40 million viewers, making it the most watched baseball game in 25 years.
Overall, this World Series had a 14.9 rating, making it the highest-rated WS since 2004.
Want more? In addition, Game 7 was the most watched program outside of the presidential debates since the Super Bowl in February.
Indeed, it was a magical Fall Classic. Baseball captured the eyes of America, with fans wanting to see history in the making as the Cubs won a World Series for the first time since 1908. It was both compelling and heart-stopping.
I watched every pitch of all seven games. I couldn’t turn away.
Still, the takeaway for most sports fans who didn’t have a horse in the race was simple: it can happen to your team, too.
With the Cubs scratched off the drought list, here are some of the teams still waiting to taste a championship:
The Arizona Cardinals haven’t won a title since 1947. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. The Sacramento Kings haven’t won an NBA title since 1951.
You can bet even people in Detroit said, “Why not the Lions?”
For many, Wednesday night was the kind of moment that would allow you to dream again, to believe that anything is possible in sports.
It’s actually why people care and are so emotionally invested. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s why we watch.
Unless you were the Lions or the Cubs – before Wednesday.
In decades gone by, it was a safe bet that the Lions weren’t going to the Super Bowl. It didn’t matter who the quarterback was, the coach or even the general manager of the team.
After all, the Lions have won just one playoff game since 1957, an incredible feat in a league built on parity. Want proof?
Heck, the New Orleans Saints won a Super Bowl. They used to be called the ‘Aints and their fans once wore paper bags over their heads.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who started 0-26 before winning a game in the NFL, was a terrible franchise for a long time and the butt of jokes. They won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season.
And even the Arizona Cardinals went to a Super Bowl and almost won, losing in the final minutes. They were laughingstocks, dating back to when the team was in St. Louis.
There are only four teams that have not made it to the Super Bowl. Three are expansion teams – Cleveland, Houston and Jacksonville. The other team? The Lions.
In 2008, when the Lions went 0-16 and took over the title of the least-winning team in NFL history from the Bucs, Lions fans probably thought their chances of seeing their team win a championship in their lifetime were over.
The same was probably said in Chicago. Despite all the good young players assembled, the Cubs lost 101 games in 2012. Things, indeed, looked bleak for a title.
That same thing could have been said about the Indians, who went just 68-94 four years ago. They were, indeed, going nowhere fast.
Instead, the two biggest MLB droughts came down to a Game 7 for the ages.
And if that’s not enough to give some long-suffering fans hope and inspiration, the NBA has done some drought-busting of its own.
Ten days ago, the Cleveland Cavs opened the season and raise their championship banner – their first ever and the city’s first title since 1964, ending a 52-year championship drought.
Two years ago when the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship, it ended a 40-year title drought for that franchise.
You get the picture. These long-standing droughts are coming down all over sports. None bigger than the one the Cubs snapped. They are no longer lovable losers, but champions. Yes, the impossible happened.
Go ahead sports fans, dream.