Last Sunday the world watched the New England Patriots win their 6th Super Bowl in 18 seasons, as Tom Brady became the first NFL player to win 6 Super Bowls. It was quite an accomplishment to be sure – but I’ve already reported a factual mistake in this article.
The world did not watch. In fact, Sunday’s Super Bowl was the lowest rated Super Bowl since 2008 with under 100 Million viewers. Admittedly, this still compares quite favorably to the 2018 World Series with averaged just about 15M viewers per game, but the 2016 version when the Cubs won averaged about 23M. Speaking of the Cubs – they won their first World Series since 1908. This – as we celebrated Super Bowl 53. So the Cubs waited more than two cycles of the Super Bowl in between championships.
Jayson Stark does an annual article talking about the supposed NFL parity and how it compares to baseball, and this year he almost talked himself out of it. It looked like maybe we would see some new blood in the Super Bowl with the young Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff in the conference championships against old guard’s Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Yet – after a blown call – the Saints were out and Tom Brady was back in another Big Game.
Stark had some great nuggets in this article which I will pass along to you assuming you don’t have a subscription to The Athletic. Remember those Cubs who broke their 108 year drought? They were just jumping on the bandwagon of teams breaking long droughts. They joined the 2002 Angels (42), 2010 Giants and 2017 Astros (56), 2004 Red Sox (86) and 2005 White Sox (88) as teams since 2001 who have broken 40+ years of futility in baseball. Football? Try two: the 2017 Eagles (52) and 2009 Saints (42).
This isn’t to say that baseball has a perfect playoff system. I constantly rail at the NFL and especially the NBA where literally half the league makes the playoffs! In 2018 it is true that 70% of the MLB field repeated and only 42% of the NFL did. Isn’t that like the NBA though, where you ALREADY knew it was going to be WHATEVER TEAM LEBRON JAMES WAS ON v The Warriors (at least the last half decade).
Yet the tides change all the time and despite a somewhat lackluster hot stove, teams like the Phillies, the Reds, White Sox, Nationals, Cardinals and more all look intent to get to the playoffs when they did not last year.
My favorite factoid is this from Stark about the AFC in particular:
You’ve probably seen this tidbit someplace before, but since I was the first to detect it, I’m allowed to keep hammering it home. Remember all the Super Bowls that Philip Rivers has played in? Or Andrew Luck? Or Carson Palmer? Or Andy Dalton? Of course you can’t – because apparently, the NFL once passed a secret rule requiring that only three quarterbacks are ever allowed to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady – Ben Roethlisberger – Peyton Manning. Those three have started 15 of the past 16 Super Bowls for the AFC Champion and 16 of the past 18! People might make fun of the Braves who only won one World Series despite 14 division titles or the Dodgers and Rangers who have lost back to back World Series, but at least the combatants change up!
A new baseball season is nearly upon us. Baseball hasn’t had repeat champions since the 1998-2000 Yankees but these Red Sox would love to start their own streak. Meanwhile, the Dodgers joined the 2010-11 Rangers as losers in back to back World Series – and they would really love to breakthrough for a title. For those curious – the last team to lose 3 or 4 consecutive World Series was the “Wait Til Next Year” 1921-1924 New York Giants led by John McGraw. Who will rise up in 2019? It’s almost impossible to predict.