Baseball fans on the East Coast were even more sleep deprived than usual on Wednesday morning, thanks to the adrenalized thrill ride that was Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. The Royals prevailed over the Mets 5 to 4 margin in a 14-inning spectacle that proved to be one of the most deliriously entertaining examples of October baseball in recent memory.
Before we sneak off to put in some hard-earned napping -- the game ended at 1:19 a.m. EDT, when Eric Hosmer knocked in the first walk-off sacrifice fly in a Fall Classic in 24 years -- here's a rundown of some of last night's key TV moments.
No, you're boring
People with few inner resources and ragged holes where their souls ought to be like to natter on about the alleged endemic tediousness of baseball on TV, and for five glorious hours, Game 1 effectively invited the sport's detractors to put a stirrup sock in it. Postseason baseball is nearly always fraught with anarchy and a profound sense of unreasonableness, and last night's marathon will stand as a monument to the giddy weirdness that arises when two perfectly matched teams fight for a slice of a very specific brand of immortality.
The game started with an inside-the-park home run, the first in a World Series contest since 1929, or as baseball purists refer to it, the Goofy Nickname Era. (The guy who hit the touch-'em-all some 86 years ago was known as Mule; his teammates were men burdened by the sobriquets Bing, Rube, Doc, Lefty and Bevo. Rightfielder Homer Summa was actually tagged with that handle by his parents, who proved to have little in the way of foresight. Homer hit zero dingers in '29.) Then came the moonshots, the stolen bases, the intricacies of small ball, the goofy errors and a muff at first that gave old timers in New England a serious case of déjà voodoo.
In the end, 13 pitchers took the hill on Monday night and on into early Tuesday morning, and the longest Game 1 in World Series history officially clocked in at 5 hours and 9 minutes. It was messy and chaotic and altogether mesmerizing, and it starts all over again tonight at 8 p.m.
Bonus cantos = big bucks
A few hours before Alcides Escobar hit his unconventional homer, Fox Networks Group Exec VP-Ad Sales Bruce Lefkowitz was enthusing about how Royals manager Ned Yost's signature bullpen juggling could lead to a few extra commercial pods. Yost didn't disappoint, going to the 'pen six times over the course of the game, which led to quite a bit more exposure for brands like Chevrolet, Verizon and Budweiser.
But the sheer metric tonnage of extra innings really poured it on for Fox, as the network aired 10 additional commercial pods on top of the 17 budgeted for the standard in-game load. All things being equal, and assuming the bonus spots were priced at the same rate as those that ran in the first nine innings, Fox earned itself an extra (flip napkin, carry the zero) $21.8 million… and that doesn't include the extra revenue it secured during each call to the bullpen.
Fans vote with their eyeballs
Despite a technical glitch that blacked out Fox's domestic broadcast capabilities for four minutes and the inevitable social media uproar that ensued, Game 1 served up the highest metered-market ratings since 2009. According to Nielsen fast national data, the prime-time window delivered 15.3 million viewers and a 10.5 household rating, which marked a 31% improvement from the opening game in last year's Giants-Royals series.
While the duration of the game and the standard time zone adjustments will make for radically different live-plus-same-day data when it's compiled, it's safe to say that the final numbers will reflect the sheer entertainment value on offer and the participation of a team from the No. 1 media market.
Brands are still chasing the Oreo-tweet dragon
Advertisers are forever trying to capitalize on moments in which a huge cohort of potential consumers are all engaged in the same event, and fair play to them. But the mini blackout served as a reminder that the end results can too easily underwhelm or worse. Snickers jumped into the fray with an uninspired tweet about how consuming a candy bar can somehow prevent future technical snafus, while Maytag fired off a lazy salvo about power outages. Then again, at least the two brands were paying customers; Maytag invested in a 60-second spot that ran in one of the earlier innings, while Snickers unearthed its three-year-old "Horseless Headman" ad.
Lorenzo Cain is trying to kill us all
In keeping with Taco Bell's returning "Steal a Base, Steal a Breakfast" campaign, the QSR giant this morning treated Americans to a free A.M. Crunchwrap, thanks to the Royals' outfielder's sixth-inning theft of second. While Taco Bell basked in the afterglow of the 17,500 tweets that were related to its promotional efforts, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence, the big winner here is your cardiologist.
According to the "nutrition" tab on Taco Bell's web site, a single serving Crunchwrap is basically a coronary infarction dressed up like vittles. A sausage-themed version of the breakfast wrap delivers 47 grams of fat, and the 1,180 milligrams of sodium will leave you scrambling for the Diovan. Oh, and if you want to burn off those 710 eggy calories, you're looking at around 70 straight minutes of jumping rope. Thanks, Lorenzo!
Fantasy strikes out
On a night in which DraftKings and FanDuel combined to spend nearly a half-million dollars on ESPN, NBCSN, TNT, FS1 and NFL Network, the daily fantasy sports giants were all but AWOL during Game 1. DraftKings ponied up for a single 30-second spot toward the conclusion of last night's game, while FanDuel sat it out altogether.
Since the MLB season began back in April, DraftKings has run 736 ads in live baseball telecasts, according to iSpot.tv estimates, while FanDuel aired about a tenth as many spots (69). That DraftKings is a much more enthusiastic backer of baseball is by design; after all, the MLB holds an equity stake in the daily fantasy venture. FanDuel enjoys no such relationship with the league, and as such is not expected to show up at all over the course of the World Series.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday told reporters that he had no qualms about the league's affiliation with DraftKings, characterizing daily fantasy as a means for fans to better engage with the sport.