By Garrett Farrell
On Tuesday, October 27, in Arlington, Texas, The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win their first world series pennant in 32 years. It was the third time in the past four years that the Dodgers have played in the World Series. They lost the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros and the 2018 World Series to the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers had the best regular season record in the National League and swept both the Wild Card and Divisional Series, before defeating the Atlanta Braves in the League Championship Series in seven games, after trailing three games to one; they were just the fourteenth team in postseason history to accomplish this feat, and the first since the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
The Rays had the best regular season record in the American League and swept the Wild Card Series. They then defeated their divisional opponents, the New York Yankees, in five games in the Divisional Series. In the League Championship Series, the Rays defeated the reigning American League champions, the Houston Astros, in seven games. They led the series by three games to zero. This World Series was the fourth in the last 25 years was a matchup between the teams with the best records in the AL and NL.
This matchup was billed as more important than a typical world series, for good cause. Some called this matchup a litmus test of whether or not small market teams like the Rays can still contend with teams with huge markets. The Rays built their team based on advanced analytics, which were pioneered by Bill James and Billy Beane. In fact, the Rays made many of their in-game decisions based on the “mathematically smart” decisions. In fact, one such decision in Game 6 was especially controversial in the aftermath of the Dodgers’ win.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Rays’ manager Kevin Cash made the decision to bring in a replacement pitcher after Blake Snell allowed a hit with one out. Snell had been dealing for the entire game before this point, throwing only 73 pitches, striking out nine batters, allowing no runs and no batters walked.
This proved to be an extremely bad call, as Nick Anderson, the relief pitcher who Cash brought in to replace Snell, almost immediately gave up two runs, putting the Rays down by one with three innings left. The Dodgers’ bullpen, led by starting pitcher Victor Gonzales and relief pitcher Julio Urías, shut out the Rays for the remainder of the game. After the game, LA’s shortstop Corey Seager was named the MVP of the World Series.
Unfortunately for baseball, the increase in baseball ratings from earlier in the season were not sustained down the stretch. Per Nielsen Media Research, Game 1 of this World Series was the least-watched World Series game in history, and Game 6 was the least-watched title-clinching game in World Series history. This fits the recent trend of baseball ratings, as fewer and fewer Americans watch baseball than did 10 years ago. It appears that the only reason for the increase in ratings early in the season was the fact that baseball was the only of the four major North American sports to be playing games.