It had all the makings of a Hollywood film going into it. All the drama, all the schmaltz and enough stars lining up to get tickets to film an actual dramatization or wacky comedy based on the 2016 World Series. And tonight it has the kind of ending that screenwriters probably don’t want to write, but the studios insist upon. That epic finish to a storybook series: Game 7.
The Chicago Cubs came back from three games-to-one to tie their series with the Cleveland Indians and send it to this final game of the baseball season, the edge of the cliff and the game we’re told every kid who smacks their glove waiting for a ball to pop up into the air dreams of. All that, and yeah, the whole fact that one team hasn’t won one since we were just getting into the post-war era, while the other has been searching for a title before the First World War was even a consideration.
But the thing that’s been a fun addition to this World Series, the little factor that might give fans an extra second or two of not chewing on their nails or pulling out their hair, has been the camera focusing in on celebrities throughout the games. You might think it’s a little annoying, seeing the rich and famous with their great seats or boxes provided by the ownership, but there is something interesting about watching a World Series that is totally concentrated in the middle of the country – and not Los Angeles or New York City – and seeing celebrities. It’s just not something you witness all the time, and Major League Baseball, I’d assume, is more than happy about Bill Murray showing up to every game; LeBron James shuttling over after a Cavs game in in leather jacket and tie; Drew Carey pumping his fist when the Indians score; Eddie Vedder and Vince Vaughn doing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley; John Cusack vaping in the stadium between pitches; and Charlie Sheen just doing whatever the hell Charlie Sheen does for reasons we will probably never understand.
You can say it’s obnoxious, like some people think, or you can look at it like this is a big added bonus to an already epic World Series. It’s baseball taking a page out of basketball’s playbook. You can have Jack Nicholson at Lakers games, Jay Z at Nets games later on in the season, but for now, you’ve got celebs getting their publicists to try and score them tickets to baseball.
This World Series has been very good for baseball. With two old franchises who always seemed destined to always fail up until this year – but who each boasted rosters filled with talented players – it was already going to draw viewers. And it has, a lot of viewers. This World Series has grabbed the biggest ratings numbers of the fall classic in over a decade, starting with Sunday’s Game 5, which nabbed 23.6 million viewers. That was about five million more than Sunday Night Football claimed. And yes, that’s all because this World Series had all the making of an all-time classic going into it, and the two teams have held up their ends of the bargain. Who the hell needs famous people in the crowd?
Well, baseball does. The biggest World Series in recent memory, one that will no doubt be remembered along with the Boston Red Sox breaking their own drought and that “Subway Series” any old-school New Yorker salivates over, has benefitted from the familiar faces in the crowd. Sure, it’s probably going to make getting tickets even more expensive and difficult to procure in 2017 if you’re a Cleveland or Chicago fan, but unfortunately those are the sacrifices you’ve got to make if you want to see a baseball title come to your town.