Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
Hey, gang! Everyone psyched for Thursday afternoon's big division series opener on Fox Sports 1?
Sorry, I should have provided some background first:
The American League Division Series opener is on Fox Sports 1 Thursday afternoon!
The Rangers face the Blue Jays, in case you missed that part.
And Fox Sports 1? It is a cable channel owned by Fox that to many New Yorkers is best known for annoying Mike Francesa by preempting his simulcasts.
Francesa has left the network, but FS1 somehow has managed to carry on, bringing Rangers-Blue Jays to America -- but not to Canada -- followed by Astros-Royals.
Look, no disrespect to the AL Final Four, to the fine folks at Fox, to our Canadian allies or to the avid fans who love postseason baseball and will watch the AL playoffs regardless.
The disparity in ratings appeal, historical mojo and general buzz between the National League Division Series on Turner and American League Division Series on FS1 (and MLB Network) is among the greatest in sports media history.
Cubs vs. Cardinals and Mets vs. Dodgers? Really?
If on Opening Day you had invited Turner executives to name their dream matchups, then spiked their hot cocoas with Sodium Pentathol, the answer would have gone something like this: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Mets vs. Dodgers.
Meanwhile, at Fox ... the Yankees' loss to the 'Stros in Tuesday's wild-card game left a bit of a marketing challenge.
The field includes two baseball teams from a football state, one of which recently took a wrong turn from the National League standings and somehow ended up in the AL playoffs.
Kansas City? Well, the Royals led the majors in average local TV rating with an average of 12.3 percent of homes, which is more than double what the Mets and Yankees averaged on SNY and YES -- combined!
But it's Kansas City, a Lilliputian market.
Hey, at least Toronto is a big, famous city, one that sets the media agenda for all of Canada. Alas, it turns out Canada has its own TV networks.
For Fox, having Torontonians watch postseason games has about as much effect on ratings as having Martians do so.
Hey, those are the breaks. Turner and Fox take turns on which leagues they carry in the postseason, kind of like the way the American and National Leagues used to take turns getting homefield advantage for the World Series.
Hmm. Maybe TV network analysts should play a softball game at the site of the All-Star Game every year, with the winner getting to pick which league it wants to show in October.
I would watch that. The ALDS, though? Not so much.