Popularity doesn't always have a strong correlation with value, a fact that has been proven endlessly throughout time. "Two and a Half Men" outdraws shows like "Parks and Recreation." Nickelback sells more albums than your favorite critically-acclaimed rock band. But even knowing this, data showing the Home Run Derby was watched by more people than any NBA playoff game shown this year on ESPN is still enough to make you do a double-take.
Does middle America really love Chris Berman's 'back-back-back' shtick? Were party people around the country glued to their televisions after Pitbull's decidedly hyped-up pregame show? Whatever the case, 6.7 million people watched the MLB's Home Run Derby this year, according to Sports Media Watch. That's more than any of the 17 games NBA playoffs games shown on ESPN in 2013.
It's curious for a few reasons. For one, some of those NBA playoffs were pretty great. Bulls-Heat Game 2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 3 of the Spurs vs. Warriors series in the West semifinals. The Spurs' NBA Finals-clinching Game 4 win over the Grizzlies. All of those (and plenty more) were outdrawn by what is essentially televised batting practice narrated by the irritable force that is Berman.
So, maybe baseball isn't losing its grasp as America's pastime after all?