Baseball and Pro Wrestling: More Similar Than You Think
What image do you get when you think of both baseball and professional wrestling?
You never think of the two as being "peas in a pod."
And the only similarities you might think of are the vast amounts of steroids used by their stars.
However, the two sports share a similarity that goes beyond comparing Barry Bonds' physique to that of Triple-H. Both sports are American institutions.
American institutions that are slowly losing interest.
The reason ironically is because of their attempts to "cater" to the casual fan.
Baseball has Yankees-Red Sox, while pro wrestling has John Cena-Randy Orton.
Both are long rivalries that were exciting at first but now we're just sick of, and both will intensify again after Thanksgiving, with the Yankees and Red Sox fighting over the latest prize free agents, while at least the WWE will go into a different direction with Cena and Orton, and Orton will be a face while Cena will be the heel.
These rivalries are what Major League Baseball and the WWE think that people want to see.
There might be some truth to that—the Yankees and Red Sox do pull in higher ratings than most other teams—while the WWE's ratings are higher when John Cena is around.
But this has done nothing but turn off the die-hards.
In wrestling, the die-hards want to see newer wrestlers get a push. They're waiting for the day when John Morrison, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and other newer, fresher faces get their turn.
In baseball, true fans want to see teams be featured on ESPN and Fox other than the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Phillies.
Thankfully in baseball, as long as the good teams win, they get the attention of the press—well, sort of.
The San Francisco Giants had an excellent team with a great pitching staff this year. Because of that they won their first World Series since 1954, which was four years before they moved to San Francisco.
But all I heard about this series from ESPN were questions about where Cliff Lee was going to wind up and if the Yankees, who ironically were eliminated by Lee and his Rangers, would make a push toward him.
ESPN might as well hire Michael Cole based off of how they talk about the non-marquee franchises, especially compared to their constant over-hyping of the Red Sox. They were doing everything but dismissing the Giants like they were just a mediocre NBA team who won the eighth seed in the East.
So what will the solution be for baseball? Oh, more wild cards, great.
The current system in baseball is fine. Three division champions, one wild card per league. Four playoff teams in each league, one goal.
Now their plan is to have two wild cards face each other in a play-in series, which is a mistake.
Say a team finishes with the second best record in the National League, yet is second in their division. Why would they have to play against a team that finished second in a weaker division and is more than five games back of the first wild card team?
Isn't 162 games enough?
Wrestling fans probably feel the same way about Vince's "Brand Extension," which looks more and more like it will be slowly phased out.
The Brand Extension, for those of you who aren't into wrestling and clicked on the article because I mentioned baseball, was the splitting up of the WWE roster into Raw and Smackdown, their two shows. The reason being to cut down on travel and employ more wrestlers.
But this ended up just diluting the titles. Right now there's a WWE Champion, and a World Heavyweight Champion.
Who's the real champ?
Yes, I know, maybe wrestling and baseball are completely different, but not in the treatment of the hardcore fans in an attempt to appeal to casual fans.
To bring in casual fans, both need drama. With baseball its already there, but it isn't being packaged correctly, unless of course its Yankees-Red Sox. Adding more playoff teams won't solve this problem, it will only make it worse.
Wrestling its all about packaging to create the drama, and they seem to be back on the right track.
Maybe Baseball needs to take some pointers from pro wrestling, and no I don't mean they should start fixing games, but knowing how Bud Selig, Fox and ESPN think, I wouldn't put it past them.
After all the last time they did, attendance did go up.
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