There's some kind of pseudo-aesthetic impulse driving these rushes to judgment, a knee-jerk need that only grows stronger as the speed of things continues to increase, so we can't rely on the anecdotal evidence and have to sift out the underlying reason via other means.
And, naturally, after knocking back a couple of highly caffeinated beverages, we've once again arrived at the answer.
It's meta-decadent consumerism at work again, kiddies. You're simply feeling cheated because you didn't get your money's worth.
To be succinct: the damn World Series, despite all of the newfangled foreplay with which it's been festooned, is simply becoming too short.
We're getting visited by the broom more frequently than at any time in world history.
A cursory look the data shows that a downturn in the number of World Series games began late in the Reagan years. We haven't really come out of it since, and over the past quarter-century we've seen a complete flip-flop in the percentage of World Series that are wham bam thank you ma'am vs. those that go full-term.
38% of World Series went seven games from 1903-1987; since then, that total has dropped to 21%. At the same time, World Series sweeps have more than doubled (from 15% up to 33%).
So there was a fifty-year period in which the ratio of long series to short series was particularly high, peaking in the 60s and 70s, when many of our present-day curmudgeons were in what we will charitably term their "formative years." Relative to that time frame, of course, what's happening today is abrupt, shocking, disreputable, and--most importantly--a miserable consumer value.
|Are flying carpets un-American??|
But consumer protectionists can take solace. Surely it's in the best financial interest of those who print $$ from baseball to have its climactic event extend to as many games as possible. In a world where so much seems to be for sale, it's quaintly refreshing to consider that the number of games is going down, when the pressure of the revenue stream would really want it to move toward those peaks we can see in the 1962-74 time frames on the graph above.
Hey, at least they aren't rigging it to squeeze out the maximum profit margin. (Ah, oops, now we've gone and called attention to it...opening our trap when we should have been shutting our yap. But it's part of our insidious reverse psychological plan to induce a record string of seven-game World Series...which, in case you're wondering, would be five, topping the four consecutive full-term classics that occurred from 1955-58, under that Commie Republican named Eisenhower.)
We leave you with a paraphrase from Preston Sturges' magisterial romp The Palm Beach Story (1942), in which itinerant billionaire John D. Hackensacker (Rudy Vallee) makes a sharp pronouncement vis-a-vis tipping and patriotism. "Tipping is un-American," he says. (Bill James, who's sort of Rudy Vallee on steroids, heartily agrees.) And so, let's all say in unison, are sweeps in the World Series.