October 17, 2011
Far too many Milwaukee Brewers pitchers trodded slowly from the mound to the dugout looking pale and lifeless after getting pounded by the St. Louis Cardinals bats in the clinching Game 6 of the NLCS. Turns out, those dead men walking weren't the only zombies to make a splash on Sunday night.
"The Walking Dead," the hit original AMC series about a zombie plague terrorizing survivors in the greater Atlanta area, set a ratings record for most viewers of a serial drama episode in cable history while Shaun Marcum(notes) led the parade of seven Brewers pitchers to fail in their attempt to keep St. Louis at bay over on TBS.
At least the wild-card winning Cardinals and brain-eating zombies have something in common, having both systematically devoured something from Atlanta to guarantee their success. But the zombies are apparently more efficient at eliminating an opponent than over-managing Tony La Russa. One bite, and you're gone.
The NFL game on NBC is realistically the biggest competition for the baseball playoffs on Sunday nights. Football-hungry fans will flock to the once-weekly night game on broadcast networks even given the sense of finality attached to a NLCS Game 6. Last night's game was a total dud and yet NBC drew more viewers than "The Walking Dead" and "The Homering Cardinals" combined.
Overall, television ratings for both LCS matchups declined precipitously from last year's series, partly because there were several weather delays but mostly because the four participants in 2011 were not big-market teams. Unlike last year, no New York, Philadelphia, or San Francisco teams advanced to the league finals.
Gone are the halcyon days when the baseball playoffs could attract half the country's eyeballs by planting itself on one of only three possible networks. Americans have far more entertainment options in 2011.
But we also have DVRs, which is why I made the choice to watch the dying Brewers in real time. No matter how bad it gets, I like to enjoy my postseason baseball live, before it disappears like fresh brains at a zombie buffet.