Stark: Why MLB’s 2016 postseason was a game-changer

From SABR member Jayson Stark at on November 21, 2016:

More than 40 million people watched the baseball game that decided the World Series — the most in a quarter-century. An estimated 5 million people showed up at the Cubs’ World Series parade — the largest gathering of human beings for any reason in the recorded history of the Western Hemisphere.

So … get the impression that there’s a little interest in this team?

Oh, maybe it will turn out that the Cubs are just trending because they did something that hadn’t exactly been the specialty of their house for the previous century. But inside Major League Baseball, it feels like more than that.

This sport has been waiting for years for a team like this to come along. A team that moves the needle in a way that other champs don’t. A team that transcends its city, its market or any sort of traditional geographic blip on the radar screen.

Well, if baseball can’t turn this team into That Team, then it might be time to conclude it can’t be done. Not in this sport, at least.

But all the evidence suggests it can. And it’s happening. Right before your eyes.

The data verifies it: ratings, social media traffic, merchandise sales. And every force baseball could ask for to make this sustainable is all lined up to keep this meteor shooting through the American sky.

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Originally published: November 21, 2016. Last Updated: November 21, 2016.