Personally, I think it has been a banner year in sports. There have been sports stories galore that have fascinated us throughout the year, and that’s something we will discuss in depth on Thursday here on The Sports Debates. For today, I believe Major League Baseball had the best league out of them all.
Two thousand and nine did not start out to be the greatest year with the whole Alex Rodriguez saga. We all know what it is, so I won’t rehash it. Surprisingly, though, that story just kind of faded away as the season and year progressed. Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games and allegations surfaced against Big Papi. Those were big stories throughout the year, but as I reflect back, those are not the first things that come to mind. What comes to mind for me is the great pennant race in the American League Central and the postseason.
The Minnesota Twins, playing in the Metrodome for the last time, rallied to catch the Chicago White Sox in the last few days of the season. After 162 games, the two teams were tied with records of 86-76. That forced a one game playoff, and that game is one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, considering the circumstances. (In fact, this game may be mentioned in a debate later this week.) It was a see-saw battle that the Twins won in dramatic fashion, earning a shot at the pennant.
The postseason ended with six teams (the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels) from big markets, a fact that is always a key to drive up television ratings.
The World Series between the Phillies and the Yankees averaged 19.4 million viewers, and the postseason as a whole was up 30 percent from last year, no doubt due in large part to the presence of the Yankees.
Ahh, those Yankees! Love them or hate them (and Babe Ruthless loves them, for some reason), the Yankees, playing in the new Yankee Stadium, won with the best team money can buy (a $220 million payroll) earning a record 27th championship. The fact that the team was hit with nearly a $26 million luxury tax was a small price to pay to finally win a championship, the Yankees’ first since 2000. Like it or not, having the Yankees do well is good for baseball. Just like the NFL is better off when the Cowboys do well and the NBA needs the Lakers to do well. Big teams bring in a lot of interest from casual fans, and that is what happened in 2009 with MLB.
It was just a banner year overall in sports, but with the resurgence of the Yankees, no league had a better 2009 than Major League Baseball.