A-Rod: There's an 'opening' for to overtake NFL and become No. 1 again
The NFL is suffering a steep, double-digit drop in TV ratings this season.Football fans from President Barack Obama and LeBron James to Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw now say if they had sons, they wouldn't them play due to the health risks. The political protests by Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players have led some outraged fans to launch a #BoycottNFL movement.At the same time time, Major League Baseball is bouncing back. The underdog Cubs are the feel-good sports story of the year. The Grand Old Game has a boatload of telegenic young stars, from Kris Bryant of the Cubs to Francisco Lindor of the Indians.MORE: The 28 best TV game analysts in sports, rankedIf you notice, there have been zero political protests by baseball players against the American flag/national anthem during the 2016 postseason. If the Cubs make it past the Dodgers to reach the World Series, Fox will nab the casual sports viewers who might not otherwise tune in for the Fall Classic.The shifting fortunes of the two sports gives Major League Baseball the opportunity to reclaim its lost crown as America's Pastime, according to Alex Rodriguez, who has worked as a studio analyst for Fox Sports during the past two postseasons. "I will say for the first time there’s an opening," A-Rod told me by phone before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and Dodgers Sunday. "It’s up to us to take advantage of it."Sporting News also asked Rodriguez his thoughts on the 2016 postseason, how to make baseball more watchable on TV and his future plans. Excerpts:Sporting News: Who do you like to win the World Series?A-Rod: In many ways, it feels like the Cubs invitational. It feels like their year. But I said this all along even before the postseason started: Cleveland went from good to great once they acquired Andrew Miller. To me he’s the X factor in this postseason. He makes the Cleveland Indians a very dangerous team. He neutralizes not only left-handers, of course, but he dominates right-handers as well because of his power slider. … He’s the best reliever in the game. Head and shoulders. He does everything right. Think about it. He gets lefties, he gets righties. He can pitch in the 5th inning, he can pitch in the 9th inning. He holds runners on. He fields his position. With all of that, he’s even better in the clubhouse. He’s a brilliant guy. Went to (the University of) North Carolina for a business degree. When you see his preparation … On long flights, you'd see him with his iPad, always studying video. Really early on, when he was my teammate (with the Yankees), I realized this guy is somebody you build an organization around.MORE: 14 postseason oddities you might not know aboutSN: Does need to speed up games for viewers? There's a lot of complaints about four-hour games and endless pitching changes?A-Rod: I think ( Commissioner) Rob Manfred, (Chief Operating Officer) Tony Petitti and Tony Clark (Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association) are leaders. They are very cognizant and sensitive to this issue. You have to be careful not to change too many things. There’s a romance about the game. There’s a cadence about baseball, that’s second to none. The one thing I would be careful with in September, with the games being so important, I would limit it to a 25-man roster. If you want to expand, I think the time to expand rosters is in April. The weather is cold. Guys are coming from a long winter. You’re able to protect pitchers' health a little bit more.. @AROD loves the @Cubs ' fans! #NLCS #postseason #FlyTheW https://t.co/elzo1U1cU7— FS1 (@FS1) October 16, 2016SN: How does baseball attract younger fans sports leagues and TV networks obsess over?A-Rod: I said on the air last night that, you know baseball is doing really well when you have Magic Johnson and LeBron James (attending games). … I think for the first time in a long time there’s an opening for baseball to attain some of our youngsters to play baseball. I think we’re going to take full advantage of it. The other thing for me, growing up, baseball was always No. 1.