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Would Dodgers-Angels October 'Freeway Series' Be Good for Baseball?

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Would Dodgers-Angels October 'Freeway Series' Be Good for Baseball?
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If it sounds like a scenario ripped straight from a Hollywood script, maybe that's fitting: the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels clashing in the World Series. Angeleno pitted against Angeleno. Tinseltown abuzz with October intrigue.

It's never happened before. In fact, in the last quarter-century, L.A.'s MLB clubs have made just two World Series appearances between them: the Dodgers in 1988 and the Angels in 2002.

Both teams emerged victorious, but they haven't squared off against each other.

As they meet for a four-game interleague interlude pregnant with playoff implications, it's as good a time as any to ask the question: Is this the year an all-SoCal Fall Classic finally happens? Could be.

Entering play Tuesday, the Dodgers, one season removed from a trip to the NLCS, held a 1.5-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

The Angels, meanwhile, owned the second-best record in baseball after defeating the Dodgers 5-0 Monday night behind Garrett Richards and are nipping at the heels of the Oakland A's.

The playoffs are always a crapshoot. Right now, though, it seems at least plausible that the ultimate Freeway Series might materialize.

ESPN.com's Mark Saxon likes the odds. "Maybe this is the year the I-5 freeway becomes the traffic-clogged conduit for the Fall Classic?" Saxon opined. "The signs are as promising as ever." 

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

Certainly that would be good news for Southern California baseball fans. Would it be equally good for baseball?

Put another way: Do World Series featuring regional rivals command more attention and higher ratings? Does geographic proximity automatically equal intrigue?

Not necessarily.

In 1989, the Giants and A's met in the so-called Bay Bridge Series. The Loma Prieta earthquake provided most of the drama when it interrupted play, but ultimately viewers weren't enthralled as the A's cruised to an easy sweep.

The '89 Series drew a 29 share from Nielsen Media Research, per Baseball-Almanac.com, by far the lowest at the time since records began being kept in 1973.

The previous year, the A's played the Dodgers in the World Series, and the share, or percent of total TV viewers tuned to a specific program, was 39.

The following year, in 1990, when the Cincinnati Reds swept the A's, it jumped back to 36.

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A decade later, the New York Yankees faced the New York Mets in an all-Big Apple affair.

Despite the perennial popularity of the Yankees, the underdog appeal of the Mets and the massive size of the market, the 2000 Subway Series drew a 21 share, down from 26 in '99 and '01 (both of those series also featured the Yankees).

Clearly, then, the mere fact that two clubs can bus between parks and share overlapping fanbases does not guarantee widespread interest.

Would a Freeway Series buck the trend? There are reasons to think it might.

First off, Los Angeles is a market unlike any other. Combine the populations of Los Angeles County, where the Dodgers play, and Orange County, where the Angels hang their halos, and you've got more than 13 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If any place can rival New York for sheer number of eyeballs, it's L.A.

More importantly, though, a Dodgers-Angels World Series would showcase a handful of the game's most exciting talents.

You're saying you wouldn't tune in to watch Clayton Kershaw battle Mike Trout? Yasiel Puig bat-flipping against Jered Weaver?

Before the current series kicked off, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer asked Trout about Puig. As five-tool players, the two are often compared.

"The similar parts are we play hard and love the game," Trout said, adding, "He's a great talent, exciting to watch."

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

They both are. And then some.

L.A. is known for its stars, and right now its baseball teams are glistening brightly. Will they get a chance to shine under the brightest lights?

We're a few months and a lot of games away from answering that question. For now, it's simply fun to close your eyes and imagine the movie.

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