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Unlike the government, is selling Bonds paying dividends to Fox?

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network

Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds is having his first solid playoff performance, but is it enough to draw ratings points on television?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -- Checking on the current World Series and the lack of interest, outside of a few places on the west coast, it certainly appears that selling and buying Bonds is limited to the U.S. government and the potential of our being at war. Right now, the war - actually, the minor skirmish if you consider its coverage, or lack of same - is between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants.

The sale of Barry Bonds simply has not worked. There is college football, NBA pre-season, NFL, the Sopranos, re-runs of Sex in the City and Seinfeld. Those are just for openers. Waiting until the 11:00 p.m. late news or the next day's Today or Good Morning America is fine for most of us. We get the score, yawn, have breakfast and head out to do what awaits us on a daily basis. Such is the interest in MLB's shining moment.

If the folks in Anaheim, people in the stands aside, and the ones down at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco aren't that interested, what can Fox expect from Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and other major markets? Like it or not, without the Yankees the ratings are less than those Mr. Rogers might accumulate for his neighborhood.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the first game of the Fall Classic this year had the lowest viewer rating in the history of televised first games of the World Series.

The probable good news is that these two teams are not playing where small fires have to be built in the bullpen and the heating bill for the dugouts is equal to the one for the entire city of Vail in the middle of winter. The pitchers are not thawing out between batters and fly balls to the outfield are not coming down with ice on them.

San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds of the San Fransisco Giants walks on the field before Game 1 of the 2002 World Series against the Anaheim Angels.
It's tough to sell Bonds without bona fide interest rates or results and the first all Wild Card World Series was not the most awaited for event in the history of the game. Obviously, the Giants were the NL Wild Card and the Angels finished as their AL counterpart. If your memory is working in gear with all this excitement taking place before you on the silver screen that adorns your den, you might recall that the Florida Marlins won the Series as a wild card in 1997, after which they self destructed and were never seriously heard from again, while the Mets lost the 2000 Series to the Yankees as a wild card.

Also, although it is an "all-California" encounter, it is not the focus of the day, or night, for the body builders on Venice Beach, shoppers strutting down Rodeo Drive, would-be movie moguls on Mulholland and everyone else in Santa Monica taking time out from a brief stop at the local Starbucks. That attitude may not be shared by everyone in the City by the Bay, but Silicon Valley has not come to a grinding halt. After all, this is the fourth all-California World Series, the others being: 1974 - Oakland/LA; 1988 - Oakland/LA (Kirk Gibson HR); 1989 - Oakland/SF (the famous Earthquake Series) - and how many of you knew that until you read it here?

You have to hearken back to the Chicago Cubs (although this is not as drastic) when you think about Giants' fans and realize that this is the first World Series for the San Franciscans since 1989 and that they haven't won the Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958. They lost in 1962 to the Yankees and last won the Series in 1954 against Cleveland. The way things are going as of this writing, it is a toss-up with the possibility of the fog settling in over the Golden Gate Bridge descending upon Pac Bell Park shortly. Will the swing of Bonds' bat blow it away? We'll see.

Garret Anderson and Adam Kennedy
Garret Anderson (l) of the Anaheim Angels is congratulated by teammate Adam Kennedy after Anderson scored in the first inning during Game 2 of the World Series.
The Angels are in their first World Series, ending 41 years of frustration and are trying to win this one for Gene Autry. They were an expansion team in 1961 and have been known by three different names (Los Angeles, California and now Anaheim) in the belief that they could sneak up on the rest of the sport and confuse their opponents. It was not, as we all know, to be. The Angels finally exorcised the ghost of 1986 when they were one strike away from the Series in Game 5 of the ALCS against Boston and Dave Henderson sent the next pitch into orbit. The Red Sox went on to win Game 5 in extra innings and won the next two games of the series, denying Gene Mauch and Gene Autry a trip to the World Series. Donnie Moore, the pitcher who gave up the homer to Henderson, eventually killed himself.

As for Barry Bonds, he had just one homer and six RBIs with a .196 batting average in 27 career post-season games (1990-92 with Pittsburgh; 1997 & 2000 with SF) entering the 2002 playoffs. He has four home runs, 10 RBI and a .286 batting average with 14 walks in 10 games this post-season before taking an the Angelic ones.

They might be good players, even better than good, but Jeff Kent, Benito Santiago (2002 NLCS MVP) and Kenny Lofton of the Giants are not what one would call household names. The really interesting news about them is that Kent was the 2000 NL MVP and caused a stir in the Spring when he broke his wrist. He said he was hurt after falling while washing his truck (presuming he was on the top of the cab that was 15-20' high) but there were witnesses that said he was injured while popping wheelies while riding his motorcycle. He also got into a shoving match in the dugout with Bonds this season. The two don't really like each other but Bonds said, late in the season, that Kent, who can be a free agent after the Series, should be re-signed.

This is a group that was made for the George Steinbrenner of years ago.

The other Giants' "stars" include SS Rich Aurilia, a solid hitter who hit 37 homers and batted .324 in 2001 but struggled this year with 15 HR and .257 BA. 3B David Bell is a good fielder with a decent bat and is known as a gamer. As forgettable a group as one can put together.

The one thing that the Angels have done consistently is prove why they were the top hitting team in the AL this season with their two big innings in the playoffs -- eight runs in the 5th inning of Game 4 against Yankees and 10 runs in the 7th inning of the clincher against the Twins, not to mention Game 3 of this Series. They hit everything, according to some. Mike Mussina was quoted as saying, after the Yankees series, that they foul off your good pitches, then kill every "mistake pitch" you throw.

How much did you really know about Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson (Garret with one 't'), Darin (only 1 'r') Erstad, and Tim Salmon before the series with the Yankees and now the big one for all the marbles? How about like nothing? What about Adam Kennedy, who hit three homers in clinching Game 5 of ALCS against Twins, tying a record for most homers in a post-season game. A guy who is smaller than some of the bats in the rack is now up there with Babe Ruth, who did it in the 1926 and '27 World Series, and Reggie Jackson in '77 Series. The group also includes Pittsburgh's Bob Robertson in 1971 NLCS and Kansas City's George Brett in 1978 ALCS. Kennedy has four homers this post-season after hitting a total of seven in the regular season.

Give me a break!

Gene Autry would love David Eckstein because he is a pest -- a guy you love to have on your team and a guy you hate when he's the opposition.

The Angels' pitching is, as we now know, is anchored by starters Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, Kevin Appier and rookie John Lackey. In the bullpen are 20-year-old right-hander Francisco Rodriguez and closer Troy Percival. These two have been likened to the Yankee 1996 Series pair of Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland. Again, not exactly memorable names before or after the Series.

According to the Nielsen Ratings, the League Championship Series ratings were up 13 percent from a year ago through the first four games. But, for the World Series, are many more people watching down on this with Gene Autry paying dividends on Fox's purchase of Bonds? You gotta be kidding!