By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 20, 2011
Whether or not rally squirrel Buschy attempts to run the bases and dominate post-game highlights once again, it’s a Fox that will be looking to buck the trend of low World Series ratings in 2011. Last season’s Giants-Rangers five-game series on Fox was tied with the 2008 Phillies-Rays series as the lowest-rated all-time World Series, and the Central Standard Time Rangers-Cardinals matchup “looks to be a contender for least-watched Series since Nielsen began tracking such things,” according to Daily Variety’s Jon Weisman.
However, alongside the squirrel, this year’s World Series has some other bona fide baseball stars afield that will likely keep sports fans engaged. St. Louis, behind longtime All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols, is baseball’s second most popular franchise on television (behind the Yankees), averaging a 9.0 rating during the regular season on broadcast partner Fox Sports Midwest. And the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz, put on waivers and for the better part of a decade foundered in the minor leagues, literally came out of right field during the post season the past two years to become a pennant legend on both offense and defense, blasting a record five home runs during the ALCS – including two in extra innings – and saving one playoff game for the Rangers by making a critical eighth-inning throw.
There’s Rally Squirrels at the 2011 World Series, and there’s also Rally Towels. This year, the gate premium of choice in both St. Louis and Arlington for MLB and its premier corporate backers is the rally towel. At Game One in Busch Stadium, Taco Bell put its name on ticket lanyards and towels “fashioned after a sauce packet,” according to SportsBusiness Daily. Thursday’s Game Two at Busch Stadium found Chevy sponsoring towels and a souvenir pin.
When the action heads south to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday, State Farm will brand freebie rally towels and pins, while Anheuser-Busch – not to be forgotten outside of hometown St. Louis – is sponsoring rally towels and “Stand Up to Cancer” placards to be used in-stadium during Game Four as part of a nationally-televised coordinated stunt.
Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation and Anheuser-Busch are not alone in using the World Series as a charitable springboard. Also coinciding with Game One, First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden took part in activities that "focus attention not only on the Rangers and Cardinals, but also on veterans and military families,” according to MLB. Obama, Biden, and MLB Commissioner Selig visited a VA Medical Center in St. Louis for a military family appreciation event, which also spotlighted a new PSA for the Welcome Back Veterans charity debuting today on MLB.com and the MLB Network featuring the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira and the Rays’ Johnny Damon. The initiatives will benefit MLB’s “Welcome Back Veterans” program and the White House’s Joining Forces support system.
Nothing squirrelly about that.