Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Pats: Boring!

Lots of talk of this topic on the radio this evening: The 2010 New England Patriots are, in terms of television ratings, the most-watched Patriots team in history. This is even provided the fact that Patriots fans have the options of watching on the Internet, on their phones, or otherwise - many of which do not count in the ratings.

This team is more popular by a whole percentage point than the 2007 Patriots - the one that had the perfect record going.

It's notable to say that this Patriots team was not really expected to perform too well. They got rid of their top player who had star power and national attention and charisma and all that stuff, and replaced him with a guy with a lot less name recognition. Instead, they have these three guys, one receiver who was traded for a fourth-round draft pick, one running back who was released by his former team, and one receiver who came via free agency.

Sounds a lot like the Red Sox in July 2010. Think about this:
Adrian Beltre=Wes Welker (underrated free agent)
Victor Martinez=Deion Branch (big trade acquisition)
Darnell McDonald=Danny Woodhead (waiver wire acquisition)

But somehow, while the 2010 Patriots are the most watchable Patriots team ever, the 2010 Red Sox were "boring."

All this means is that the generation of Pink Hats that died off in the past 18 months or so just have short attention spans and are back to watching whatever Paula Abdul's new dancing show is.

(A quick aside: The Celtics played a pretty tense game against Minnesota and with about 25 second left, when Minnesota had the ball down one point, the TV shots indicated that most fans there were more interested in "Living on a Prayer" than what was actually going on during the game. Would this have happened in 1984?)

We can say that the Red Sox were less compelling to watch after JD Drew caught the foul ball in Tampa and the team was eliminated from the playoffs. But they were the best team in the AL - just like the Patriots are the best team in football - a mere six months ago today (July 4, 2010). Still, their numbers were down on television and people were complaining about how boring they were.

Was it because 46 was the guy who went down and females no longer wanted to watch?
Was it because nobody had the true appreciation for the one-knee home run?
Was it because Tom Werner didn't do as "articulate a job as we can of portraying how interesting the clubhouse is" (from the "Neither Will Your Readers" article)?
Was it the complexion of the unexpected heroes?
Or was it because the fan base doesn't have the attention span to enjoy success for seven straight years, instead becoming spoiled brats who watch reruns of "Men Behaving Badly" (a Tom Werner hit show that was at least as good as a Wild Card berth) if the team is not in contention to go 132-30?

I just don't get it. While I do understand why people don't like to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka starts thirty times a year (it's like watching Ben Stiller make mistake after mistake in front of Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents), I don't understand why people didn't find anything compelling about a waiver wire guy come through in the clutch, a guy who was traded for spare parts not enjoying being touched on the head, or a reclamation project genuflecting while hitting a ball to Brookline.

Especially when it's the very same people who, in record numbers, are watching the Patriots do the EXACT. SAME. THING.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Celtics fans in 1984 didn't have a Jumbotron. Life was better back then. On a related note I went to five Celtics games last year. There are people who get dressed like idiots and migrate through the aisles to wherever the camera is so that they can get on the 'Tron as if it will make them famous or something. It's more an indictment of society than it is of Celtics fans.

As for the Pats/Sox comparison, it's a fair one, but there are several differences. Before I go any further it should be noted that I'm not a huge Patriots fan. Not because I root for another team, but because I'm not a big football guy. I pull for the Patriots, but they are a long, long way behind the Celtics and Red Sox as far as my loyalty is concerned. That said, the Patriots have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The 2010 Red Sox didn't have any player/person with the kind of national name recognition that those two have (Even three years ago Ortiz would have, but his star has clearly fallen). Secondly, football in general is more popular than baseball. It's America's sport. Third, football happens once a week. There are only 16 games. The Sox play ten times that many games. If you miss one or two or five or twenty or forty, you can still have a good idea what's going on with them and still follow them down the stretch. With the Patriots if you miss a game you've missed a legitimate portion of the season.

Lastly, this year's Sox team, for all it's quirks, and as admirable as they were, just weren't good enough. Don't get me wrong--they were good--but they weren't good ENOUGH. This year's Patriots were awesome. And people will always watch an awesome team (unless they play in Tampa), but only the die hard fans will watch a mediocre/good team, especially when the Celtics and Patriots had the types of 2010's that they had.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

While all your points are valid, especially the basketball ones and the one at the end about having way too many choices of contending teams around here, I have the following two beefs with your argument:

1. In 2007, they had Brady and Belichick too, and in 2007 there were only sixteen games. None of this has changed. Only the number of TVs tuned in. And it's gone up!
2. On July 4th, the Red Sox were the best team in the American League. Before Buchholz, Pedroia, and Martinez all went down simultaneously the previous weekend, it looked like this team would contend. I don't see how this is not "good enough" or how it is "mediocre/good."

TimC said...

Isn't the proper comparison the 2009 Patriots? Everyone hated that team. They were basically a bridge year team that could not replace the popular, gritty guys lost from the glory teams in the early part of the decade adequately with their current crop of young players and free agent signings. Guys like Adalius Thomas, Leigh Bodden, and Joey Galloway (JD Drew, Mike Cameron, Lackey, Scutaro), signed as FA's, did not inspire the imagination in the same way as the players they replaced. Remember, this was a roster littered with fan favorites- Bruschi, Tedy Johnson, Law, Milloy, Harrison, on and on and on- like the Sox had in those years and '09 was when the fans finally could not get behind the new guys.

The stars, too, did little. Brady was simply not Brady last year, still re-learning his repaired body, and without that ability at QB Moss was no longer a square peg for a square hole. Seymour- punted, in training camp. Mayo- injured, when he was really looking like he was coming into his own as a potential all-pro. Adalius Thomas just whined all season. Like this year's Sox, a combination of injury (Youk, Pedroia, etc.) underperformance (Paps, Beckett, etc.) and fuming/exile (46) prevented the stars from lifting the fans out of their malaise.

The history, too, played against the Patriots. Years of total victory followed by the most historically relevant season in this decade simply set New England up for a fall. No team that fell short of 16-0 was going to get the fans going like they did in 2007. And, with Brady missing all of 2008 and earning the Pats a free pass, the fans crashed to earth in '09. A soft schedule hid the loss of passion at Gillette but the Patriots certainly had no edge their- ask Baltimore, or Suggs, to be exact. The Red Sox, coming off the high of '04, held on for a bit in the euphoria of 'turning heel' and winning in '07 helped. But, as the Pats were, the Sox fans were set up for a crash and in 2010, they did.

Even leadership seemed to suck. Belichick, the greatest coach of this era, he of the 17 straight wins AFTER getting caught cheating (what would the steroid equivalent of that be? 900 HRs?), was criticized from the first snap of camp. The backlash to '4th and 2' was unbelievable and underlined the lack of faith in his usually deified football knowledge. Similarly, it seems, the 'in' thing to do these days is bash Theo and bash Liver- eh hem, NESV.

Perhaps sealing the fate of the very good '09 Patriots, young, rising stars such as Green-Ellis, Meriweather, Mayo, and Edelman, players who could have gotten the fans excited for this down season, were just too green for the occasion. The Sox, too, suffered in this regard as no youngsters came in to lift the fans and get them pumped. No, Darnell McDonald does not count, just like Ninkovich doesn't.

So, what does this all mean? With the right moves, the fans are ready to come back. Did ownership sense this, or did they bet against America and come out on top? Who knows. But I like the moves, to an extent. The Patriots of 2010 succeeded because the stars came back, they got the right young players in the draft, and, most importantly, dumped deadwood. Did the Sox do all this? We'll see. But if the team plays well early I bet the fans, the real fans, come back hard to NESN and to Fenway.

Anonymous said...

Tim

That might be the best comment that has ever been posted on this site.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure we all just got owned. It's as if Tim already knew this post was in the works for a few weeks.

Ross Kaplan said...

Just as an aside since I know little to nothing about the Pats, does anyone know what players are eligible for the Hall of Fame, is it everyone who played at least 8 years or everyone who made at least one all star team? I ask because I was shocked that the following players were on the HOF ballot, nevertheless voted for:

Harold Baines 28 (4.8%), John Franco 27 (4.6%), Kevin Brown 12 (2.1%), Tino Martinez 6 (1.0%), Marquis Grissom 4 (0.7%), Al Leiter 4 (0.7%), John Olerud 4 (0.7%), B.J. Surhoff 2 (0.3%), Bret Boone 1 (0.2%), Benito Santiago 1 (0.2%), Carlos Baerga 0, Lenny Harris 0, Bobby Higginson 0, Charles Johnson 0, Raul Mondesi 0, Kirk Rueter 0.

the gm at work said...

By the way, as you mentioned 4th and 2, if people were watching the Red Sox this year, what would the 4th and 2 moment be? Would it be the Tampa game when instinct took over and the foul ball ended up in JD's glove? Would it be when Okajima hesitated in the middle of the infield?

Wait, I don't have anything else to write about for my next post.

TimC said...

DV, it would have to be a moment where intense criticism was heaped on a coach/player when he did something very much within what he would normally do. Since JD Drew ran several feet- actually, just ran- this might be the opposite of 4th and 2. Thanks for the kudos, as well, to you guys. I blacked out around when I completed the word 'Bruschi' and just went from there.

Still, looking back, I'm not sure the 2011 Sox did what the 2010 Pats did in the off-season. There is time, and money, to do it, but the Theo/Henry regime might not have the sheer stones that moves like cutting Thomas, trading Moss, and the like require.

the gm at work said...

Well, next year, Drew, Papelbon, Varitek, and (hopefully for real this time) Okajima will be gone. 46 will still be tradable to any team that uses the same numeric system as Red Sox fans when counting his age (22, 22, 22, 22, 22, 22). Off the books would be a guy who cries about his contract for four years as his production drops, a guy who shows up his own pitcher against the Yankees, a guy who pouted when things went poorly, and JD Drew.