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Is a freeway series good for baseball?

Oct 14, 2009, 9:55 AM EST

The Dodgers and Angels in the playoffs together for the third time in six seasons, but this is the first time they’ve both made it this far, so people are starting to buzz about the possibility of a freeway series. Given that the Yankees and Phillies don’t have any plans of simply rolling over and dying the freeway series could just as easily be an I-95 series as it could be a 405  an I-5 series (see updates below), but let’s consider the pros and cons of the California version of such a beast:

Pro: Weather.  Last year’s ski-mask series between the Phillies and Rays was not a whole hell of a lot of fun, and given that this year’s Classic is going to stretch into November, the odds of poor weather affecting a series played in either New York or Philadelphia or both is even greater.  It’s still summer in Los Angeles, however. Hell, it’s always basically summer there.  A freeway series means no rain or snow delays and no Elmer Fudd hats. Just baseball in the sunshine.

Con: Strangely enough, that sunshine.  Because of the imperative that every game of the Series be played in east coast prime time, a freeway series is going to be subject to a lot of long shadows and setting-sun glare.  All but one of the NLCS games are set to start at 5:07 p.m Pacific, and the World Series games would presumably start then too.  That will make it tough for guys to pick up the baseball in the first few innings, which would lead to a lot of pitchers’ duels. Personally I love pitchers’ duels, but that’s only when the guys are really dealing, not because the hitters are flailing at balls they can’t see.

Pro: Stereotype busting.  You know the story: East coast fans are intense and knowledgeable. West coast fans are arrive-late, leave-early dilettantes.  Only problem is that that characterization is completely untrue.  I’ve got a brother and some college friends who live out west and because of it I’ve been lucky enough to go to a great number of Dodgers and Angels games over the years. Sure, there are some folks with expensive seats down low in Dodger Stadium who seem more interested in being seen than watching the game, but no more so than the guys down in the legends suites in New York.  Once you get past those guys, you’ll find no more passionate or knowledgeable fans in baseball than you’ll find in Southern California. You remember the explosion from the Dodgers crowd after Gibson hit that dinger in 1988? It was no fluke. I was at a Dodger game two years ago where Olmedo freakin’ Saenz got the same kind of reaction following a walkoff job. ThunderStix or no ThunderStix, Anaheim gets positively raucous as well.  They love their baseball in Los Angeles, and a freeway series will give the national media a chance to show the rest of the national just how much they do.

Con: The national media will probably whiff on that, instead giving us the standard “it’s the World Series, California-style!” coverage. Lots of shots of Hollywood stars in the stands. Lots of skinny blond chicks holding beers and going “wooo!” No less than 50 commercial breaks lead in with that awful Randy Newman song.  Blah.

Pro:  New faces. We get the Yankees on national TV a hundred times a year.  We just saw the Phillies in last year’s World Series.  While no one really needs more Manny Ramirez coverage, the east coast and Midwest haven’t seen nearly enough Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver and Kendry Morales.  Fresh is good.

Con: Low ratings. Sure, L.A. is the second biggest media market in the country, but (a) it’s not as big as New York; and (b) neither the Dodgers nor the Angels have nearly the national fan base the Yankees have.  Will will two L.A. teams draw the kinds of eyes that a series involving the Yankees will draw?  My guess is no.  I don’t own FOX stock so the business implications of this aren’t tremendous, but a low-rated Dodgers-Angels series would probably mean even more Yankees-Red Sox games on national TV next year.  If that’s possible.

Personally I’d love to see a freeway series because it would be a unique matchup of interesting teams with large portions of the action played in daylight.  I’m not sure the rest of the nation feels that way though.  Ignoring the fact that, yes, it’s probably too early to talk about this yet, how do you feel?

UPDATE: Interesting point raised in the comments as to whether my picture should have been of an I-5 sign instead of an I-405 sign.  I’ll grant that the most direct route between the stadiums is I-5.  On the other hand, no one is really going to be driving between the stadiums in this series, are they?  All of the fans rich enough to afford World Series tickets — and the players themselves — probably live in wealthy West L.A. or the beach communities, no?  Wouldn’t 405 be a better option for those folks?  And at least according to Google Maps, the 1-5 route “in traffic” would take considerably longer than 405.

I really have to plead ignorance here. The times I’ve been to the Big A from Los Angeles, I took the 405, but I wasn’t the one doing the navigating.  Angelenos: give me your opinion in the comments.  If 1-5 is a truly better route from the parts of L.A. where actual World Series attendants are likely to live to Anaheim, I’ll change the signs.

UPDATE #2:  OK, I’m getting a lot of emails and stuff now and the overwhelming sentiment is that it has to be I-5, and if that’s the way the winds are blowing, let no one say I don’t also blow. I have changed it to I-5.  Which is probably for the best considering that the rest of the media will probably go with that too.  Of course, if the forces of 405 make a convincing case later in the day, I’ll change it back again, because I’m a spineless flip-flopper. 

  1. Brian - Oct 15, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Can we forget all the talk about what’s good for baseball? As an Angel fan I’m fed up with it. It’s sickening. What’s good for baseball is the two best teams get to the World Series. Forget about ratings and all that other nonsense. I will be watching the umpiring very closely. They can’t be allowed to make sure we have a Yankee-Dodger World Series just because some people think that would be best for ratings. If the Angels and Yankees play great games and the Yankees win then fine. If the umps make a lot of bad calls and hand the Yankees the games then I’ll just have to give up on baseball. I want the two best teams and that’s all that matters.

  2. Adam - Oct 15, 2009 at 1:10 PM

    You’re obviously not from around here, so I’ll try not to make this sound too condescending: THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO DODGER STADIUM, at least not in the way of a regular bus route or a rail system like they have around most other major metro areas like Boston, New York, Chicago, etc. In order for most fans to get to a Dodger game, they have to drive, so when 50,000 people are all attempting to leave at once, it makes for some pretty heavy traffic, especially when the only way to make it back home is to take a freeway. You don’t live around here, you’ve never experienced the b.s. that baseball fans around here have to deal with, so frankly, shut the hell up.
    That being said, I sincerely hope both the Dodgers and Angels meet in the World Series, because I believe that would be the best possible match-up in this postseason, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of both teams either!

  3. Warren - Oct 15, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    Any series that does not include the Yankees and all their money is good for baseball and good for America.

  4. Dee - Oct 15, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    Wimp

  5. Kate - Oct 15, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    The one real thing a Freeway Series would have going for it are actually the ratings, as a Red Sox fan, well as the week as gone on we are all getting to the point that the Angels were just better. Heck within two hours of the game Chone Figgins and Erick Ayabar were already getting chants in Boston of Beat the Yankees. So, what I am saying, is the ridiculous mob of “Red Sox Nation” will be watching and rooting for the Angels from here on out (heck, even if it is just an anti Manny viewpoint, though apparently the Dodgers left fielder and our second baseman are off season work out buddies).

  6. Corey Kendall - Oct 15, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    I live in Atlantic Canada, & I would watch a “Freeway Series” myself. I like both the Dodgers & Angels this year, they’ve been 2 terrific teams this year. Especially the Angels, who’ve been playing with heavy hearts since the death of Nick Adenhart. The Dodgers are BETTER than last year’s team & I think they’re also hungrier after losing to Philly last year & are seeking revenge. Sadly, the East Coast media will cry foul if it’s an All-California Series because they’re always focused & the Sawx & Yanks all season; they’ll tell us how ‘bad’ a Freeway Series would be for baseball. I hear a lot about how the Angels-Giants Series in ’02 had bad TV ratings, yet it was a great Series, but because the East Coast media ignored it, it had an effect on the TV ratings IMO. It will not suprise me if it’s an LA-LA Series at all.
    Now, yes, Yankees-Dodgers would be fantastic as well because it’s more of an ‘old-school’ matchup for longtime baseball fans. How ’bout Yankees-PHILLIES though, that would almost be like 2 All-Star teams playing each other in the Fall Classic. So many stars on both teams, it could make for an exciting Series.
    Long story short, I’ll take any of Dodgers-Angels, Dodgers-Yankees, or Phillies-Yankees for this year’s Series IMO.

  7. Michael - Oct 15, 2009 at 6:29 PM

    a freeway series is what we need, you think westcoast fans cared when the yankees played the marlins,or the redsox played rockies? NOT EVEN CLOSE, WE WOULD’VE RATHER WATCHED GOLD THAN THAT. California love baby!!

  8. Michael - Oct 15, 2009 at 6:31 PM

    GOLF*

  9. Jimsjam33 - Oct 15, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    Low rating ? Bad for baseball ? LOL ..Eat your hearts out the rest of America and the world . L.A. World Series …We’re loving it !

  10. schwiegs - Oct 16, 2009 at 1:07 AM

    “THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO DODGER STADIUM, at least not in the way of a regular bus route or a rail system like they have around most other major metro areas like Boston, New York, Chicago, etc”
    So pretty much the designers are morons and didn’t think about this. Stop blaming everyone else and request that your local politicians get their acts together and build a transit system that allows people to get to and from the stadium?!?!

  11. Pablo - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:06 PM

    Looks like there will be a freeway series afterall. I95, Philly to NY.

  12. Phillies2121 - Oct 26, 2009 at 4:45 AM

    Thank goodness there won’t be a freeway series in los angeles. Angel fans are horrible, bitter people. I can’t wait to hear how Angel fans throw out the excuses for their team playing horrible ball is going to be the fault of someone else. Too many days off, salary of the yankees, Arod steroids, mariano spitball, you name it – they’ve already got the excuses lined up. Your team was outplayed, go f yourselves.

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