What an utter bummer that the Chicago Bulls ended the Miami Heat’s effort to break the NBA’s record for longest winning streak on Wednesday. For many casual fans, it had to be the first time in years that the endless NBA regular season piqued their interest.
The 82-game schedule is about 30 too long. A lockout or strike every year, where the season is shortened, would be most welcome.
In any case, the Heat got to 27 straight wins. Remarkable -- but six short of the Los Angeles Lakers’ record 33 in the 1970s.
In addition to fans, networks had to be dispirited with Chicago's refusal to lay down as well. TNT will carry the Miami-New York game on April 2, where the Heat would have gone for a 31st straight win if the streak had continued.
The game a week later, where the Heat could have broken the record, wasn’t scheduled for TNT or ESPN, but the NBA might have offered it to one of them. It would have been crazy not to.
In any case, as long as Heat star LeBron James gets over Wednesday's disappointment, TNT and ESPN should do plenty well with playoff ratings. James will be pursuing a second-straight title and a further role in the conversation for greatest ever.
As far as sports goes in the next few weeks, CBS and ESPN have a shot at some boffo ratings for the Masters with Tiger Woods seemingly returning to peak form. Using just ad dollars versus costs, the networks probably don’t make much money on the event (if at all), since it is so closely controlled by Augusta National, but attracting a mass audience has plenty of other advantages.
March Madness ratings for the next few rounds on CBS and TBS should do fine, particularly if Duke continues to move on. A Harris Poll recently had the Blue Devils as America’s favorite men’s college hoops team. (Duke has been first or second all but one year going back to 1993.)
Still, among this year’s top-10 favored teams, only three -- Ohio State and Michigan are the others -- remain alive in the brackets. Louisville, Arizona, Florida and Indiana -- as likely a Final Four as any other -- aren't there.
Now, the poll was conducted between March 13-18, so Florida Gulf Coast might be in the top spot now.
Looking ahead, Major League Baseball ratings might be helped this season by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim if their stacked lineup proves as good as advertised. But with Derek Jeter’s balky ankle and other injuries, the love-‘em-or-hate-‘em ratings draw in the New York Yankees could have a lackluster season.
The Tour de France this summer could see a ratings drop steeper than a Pyrenees mountain. Major League Baseball continues to be hobbled by doping scandals, cycling has been flattened by them. Lance Armstrong’s legacy might be more expansive than it appears now, stretching to the man who made it impossible to watch cycling without believing anyone is riding without some sort of chicanery.
Oops -- forgot about hockey.
So did everyone else.
(Except Chicago Blackhawks fans.)
Moving on to college football. With Alabama looking to win a third national title in a row and Johnny Manziel going for another Heisman at Texas A&M, interest should be high.
There should also be plenty of intrigue with Ohio State. The team went undefeated last year, but was ineligible for a Bowl game. Would it have gone undefeated if it faced the pressure and scrutiny that comes each week when charging toward a title game?
Certainly, few in Michigan would say so.
Then there’s the NFL. No need to go into detail about how the Denver tandem of Peyton Manning and newly acquired Wes Welker should be a ratings boon or mention any other variables.
Nothing can lance NFL ratings. Not even doping allegations.