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Fox-TV wants exciting Series

They're going to play a World Series starting Saturday and get this, no New York Yankees.

Last we heard the Series involved a pair of teams from California -- the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants -- which leads to this question; will anyone east of the Mississippi River watch? Better yet, anyone east of the Rocky Mountains.

Fox officials would like to think so. They are not really concerned about who is playing but you can bet they are on their hands and knees, praying for a six- or seven-game Series.

"Last year we were blessed with a seven-game World Seires, and three games that were won with the last pitch of the game,'' Fox Sports president Ed Goren said Wednesday in a teleconference call. "You don't get that every time around. Ratings are certainly affected by competitiveness of the game. The length of the Series has a far greater impact than the two teams that are competing.''

Fox, with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver handling the call, will televise the prime-time Series, starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

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The last all-California World Series (Giants-Oakland in 1989) drew only a 16.4 rating. A year earlier, however, the Dodgers defeated the A's in five games and the rating on NBC was a robust 23.0.

The only Series since then to draw a higher rating was the Twins-Braves in 1991 which did a 24.0 on CBS.

Last year? The seven-game Series between Arizona and the New York Yankees on Fox did a 15.7.

"I think the country loves an underdog, and we certainly have that with Anaheim," Goren continued. "I have been amazed at the ratings we've gotten in (Los Angeles) for the Angels. You don't have to be a hard-core baseball fan to adopt this team.

"When we've had West Coast World Series in the past, it was laid-back California, quiet stadiums. There's nothing laid-back or quiet about what's going on at the Ed (Edison Field)."

Besides, Goren said, "Bonds (Barry of the Giants) is the most recognizable player in the game."

Goren then offered this prediction.

"I'll tell you right now: An all-California World Series will outrate the recent New York-Los Angeles NBA Finals," he said.

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Well, here's the numbers.

Last June, the Lakers' four-game sweep over the New Jersey Nets sputtered to an all-time prime-time low of a 10.2 rating with a 19 share.

The current record low for a World Series was a 12.4 rating and 21 share, two years ago between the all-New York battle of the Mets and Yankees.

"The Angels are not the Dodgers, (but) I have been amazed at the rating we've gotten in L.A. for the Angels, for the enthusiasm in this marketplace for them,'' Goren said.

The key, though, is six or seven games.

"Game 6 is where the ratings kick in, and when you get to a Game 7, the jump can be eight points higher," said Michael Weisman, who will be doing his 30th World Series as a producer. "Whether or not it's two wild cards from the same state, it's how they get to 2-2 going into the fifth game."

Added Joe Buck.

"Maybe I'm wrong, but if a Florida-Cleveland series (1997) can do well because it goes seven games (Game 7 did a 24.5), I have to believe (people will watch) a matchup of two exciting teams in two ballparks that are loud,'' he said.

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So we'll see.

Paul Christian is a Post-Bulletin sports writer, who writes a weekly Friday column devoted to TV and radio sports. He can be reached at pchristian@postbulletin.com

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