When it comes to television ratings, it sure seems like doom and gloom for Major League Baseball.

On Thursday Fox reported that Game 1 of the World Series received a 7.6 rating and 12 share, which is a 13 percent decline from last year and an all-time low for a Fall Classic opener. It continues a troubling trend for MLB, a league which has seen ratings and viewership drop by as much as 50 percent since the early 1990s.

But despite historically low ratings for the World Series and All-Star games, networks are still shelling out money for the rights to broadcast MLB games. Two months ago ESPN locked up MLB for $5.6 billion from 2014 to 2012, doubling what it currently pays for baseball rights. And even the leagues that struck out on an attempted deal with MLB (NBC and Fox) are still interested in coming to some sort of agreement with the league.

Commissioner Bud Selig told the New York Times that the new TV deal demonstrates that baseball is in a "golden era," while ESPN president John Skipper said the agreement would ultimately benefit both parties.

"It is a lot of money,” Skipper said. "We don’t do these deals without acutely understanding how to grow our business. In that context, it makes sense to us."

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In a recent Forbes article, Tom Van Riper breaks down the networks' thinking. ESPN and its competitors, Van Riper writes, are betting that "baseball and other premium sports programming will hold up as the glue that holds together the product bundle that cable companies push into homes."

Baseball's extended season and numerous opportunities for content make the sport valuable for local TV stations. Additionally, as Van Riper noted, baseball fans tend to be "tribal." That is, they are very dedicated to their teams, and they'll go to lengths to watch. Now that local TV is forming a more significant portion of all media revenue, Van Riper called it a "financial game-changer that dwarfs all others."

Indeed, new deals with local TV stations appear to be the catalyst behind the increasing value of baseball franchises. Mike Ozanian notes in Forbes that the best case scenario for baseball clubs is to own an equity stake in a regional sports network, that way they share in the network's profits. The New York Yankees' YES Network, Ozanian writes, generated $224 million in operating income while paying the club $90 million for rights.

The catch is that these local networks are in direct competition with national stations like ESPN. And ESPN's deal with the MLB gave it significant flexibility in determining which games it would like to showcase. That ability to cherry pick, if you will, could rob the local networks of viewership for marquee games.

While the TV stations squabble over rights and viewership, the league can rest comfortably knowing that, despite historically poor ratings, the future may be bright after all.

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The first "F" Aaron Rodgers ever received came on a project in the fourth grade, when he improperly watered some plants.

His second "F" was somewhat more traumatic.

During his weekly radio show in Green Bay, Rodgers discussed receiving a failing grade in a food appreciation class in college and getting seriously scolded by his professor.

Rodgers, an American Studies major at Cal, said he and his group were given failing grades in the food appreciation class for incorrectly citing sources. The other students in Rodgers' group were allowed to rewrite the papers for better grades, but Rodgers wasn't so lucky.

Upset with his situation and determined to change his professor's mind, Rodgers went to see her during her office hours. That's when things got really bad.

"I went in [to her office] and she was ready for me," Rodgers says at the 46-minute mark of the interview. "She basically ripped me apart and said that athletes always want stuff given to them, that I wasn't going to be able to re-write my paper, and on and on and on. She went on this tirade about athletes and entitlements and whatnot."

Ironically, Rodgers was actually a stellar student, a second-team Academic All Pac-10 at Cal with otherwise solid grades. But that didn't stop this professor from tearing him to shreds.

"She's looking at me, condescending, talking down to me," Rodgers continued. "She says, 'What do you want to do with yourself?' I said, 'I want to play in the NFL.' She laughed. She laughed at me. It wasn't a funny laugh, it was a condescending laugh and she said, 'You'll never make it. You'll get hurt. You'll need your education, and you're not gonna make it through school here.' I said, 'OK. I don't agree with any of that.'

"But I just want to tell this to you today: 'Thank you for adding to that chip on my shoulder and I hope that you're a fan.'"

To add insult to injury, not only has Rodgers gone on to star in the NFL with a Super Bowl title and an MVP award, he is also a food appreciation expert.

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ThePostGame caught up with Fox's lead MLB and NFL announcer as he prepares to take the microphone for his 15th World Series.


ThePostGame: You've called so many memorable World Series moments -- the Red Sox breaking the curse in 2004, David Freese's home run in Game 6 last year -- does any one stick out as extra special?
JOE BUCK: I think the Freese home run, as far as a moment in a game. I could look at it personally and say the first World Series when I was 27 in 1996 was unforgettable because I had never done anything at that level, and doing it in New York made it extra intense and more rewarding probably.

Yeah, the Red Sox winning in 2004, the World Series after 9/11 in 2001 that went seven games. And then last year. You know, I’ve done three Super Bowls, a bunch of playoff games and All-Star Games and all that, but as far as any one singular game in any sport -- maybe in anything I’ve watched -- that Game 6, it was backed up by them winning it in Game 7, was I think right at the top of the list.

TPG: You've called both the Tigers and the Giants in the World Series. What do you remember from the atmosphere in Detroit in 2006 and San Francisco in 2010?
BUCK: Detroit was great. I think in 2006 I was taken by the way they got there in beating Oakland. Just watching it on television -- I was doing the NLCS at the time -- it was incredible the way it was so important to that city with everything they had been through with the automobile industry. I think it still carries on to this day, but that team was so loved in that city that you can't help but feel it, even in the booth, the emotion that in the park.

And then San Francisco, I was here two years ago when they won it all, but I've never, ever heard a baseball crowd as loud as we've experienced this postseason in San Francisco. It’s been unbelievable. It's been a challenge to get heard over the loudness of the crowd. In baseball sometimes you don't get that. But it makes our job easier. When our camera positions are shaking because the crowd is going that crazy, it's just really special. I think these are going to be two fun cities to be in with great atmospheres.

TPG: In regards to San Francisco, what do you think has prompted such a high level of intensity?
BUCK: In 2010 they didn’t get to clinch any of their series at home in front of their home fans, even when they won it all they won in Texas. I think what they've been able to do, to come back in the division series down 2-0, and then become the third team in the history of the NLCS to come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cardinals, I just think they have something special here.

It starts with [manager Bruce] Bochy, and they’ve had unbelievable production from the second baseman they got in July, [Marco] Scutaro. Now they're riding that wave of momentum into this World Series against a team that's got all this rest that's lined up with the best pitcher in the game going tonight, and who knows how many times in this World Series, trying to win it all.

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TPG: 2007 was the first year of Taco Bell’s "Steal A Base, Steal A Taco" promotion, where if a player steals a base, everyone in the country has a chance to win a free taco. That year, there were a record number of stolen bases in that World Series (14). The contest is back this year; do you think we can expect any more steals?
BUCK: I think we’ll get at least a handful of stolen bases. I think Taco Bell does this because they want to give out the tacos. This isn’t like you hit a home run into a basket in the upper deck. This is a pretty easy one to accomplish.

These are two teams that don’t run a ton, but I think these are two managers that are aggressive. The Giants are coming off an NLCS where they didn’t steal a base, I think that’s going to change in this series. I think a lot of that had to do with [St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier] Molina behind the plate.

You look at guys like Austin Jackson, Angel Pagan, Omar Infante, even Gregor Blanco. Guys like that that are really good base stealers, it will happen at some point.

TPG: You covered the World Series and Super Bowl multiple times, in addition to tons of historic regular and postseason games. Is there any sporting event that you haven't had the opportunity to work on that you would like to call?
BUCK: If there's one event that I enjoy to watch as a fan, and this is kind of off the board, but I'm a big hockey fan. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, if you have a rooting interest, that’s as good as sports can get.

I'm lucky to get to call Super Bowls and I'm lucky to get to call World Series. When you compare those two, Super Bowls are great, but in the World Series when you're building over the month of October, and you're building within a series -- hopefully seven games -- if you get a Game 7 in the World Series, I don't think there's anything like it in sports.

It's what we hope for every year. People say, "Who are you rooting for? Why do you hate my team?" All that stuff. The only thing I will plead guilty to is rooting for seven games in a best-of-7 series, because that's when the sport is at its best.

TPG: Do you think we'll see hockey anytime soon?
BUCK: God, I hope so. It's the one sport that I go to with my daughters where we just sit and enjoy the heck out of it. I live in St. Louis and I've got season tickets right behind the net, and it's one of the most fun things that we do as a family.

Hopefully there's progress made [with the NHL lockout]. I know they cancelled the first three weeks and I'm sure more to come, but I don't think we're going to lose the year. If we do, I think it's a huge setback for that sport. Because it seems to be really picking up steam.

TPG: We couldn't let you go without asking about Indiana basketball. Were you in Bloomington for the 1987 national championship?
BUCK: My freshman year was 1987, but they had won in the spring and I showed up in the fall for my first year. I knew that was going to be my school, and I was watching Keith Smart hit that shot from the baseline, but I wasn't a student at that point.

TPG: Do you get to follow the team during the season?
BUCK: I took my oldest daughter and her cousin to IU for the Indiana-Illinois game last year, and I've had a chance to be around Tom Crean a couple of times, and he's a special guy. He seems to be the right person at the right time for that school. I know they have another great class, and it's exciting to be a fan again. It always was when Bobby Knight was there, when I was a student I had tickets and went all the time. But it's good to want to find them on TV again, I went through a stretch where I didn't even bother looking.

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How does a 16-year old, two-time Olympic gold medalist adjust back to "regular" life after a summer in London that flung her into the spotlight and made her a household name? Simply put, she doesn't.

"Regular ... yeah, it's still not-so-regular," Gabby Douglas says as she walks down the red carpet at the Annual Salute to Women in Sports in New York. "It's been a whirlwind, but it's been really fun."

Donning a golden dress with a sparkle matched only by the two medals around her neck, Douglas was honored as the Women's Sports Foundation's Sportswoman of the Year for an individual sport.

Some may think after an insane July and August, an Olympic athlete might want some time to chill. Debrief. Take a breather. That's exactly how Douglas operates -- if you define debriefing and chilling out as embarking upon a gymnastics tour show around the country with her teammates, working on a memoir due out in December and starting her acting career.

Well, maybe the acting part isn't that difficult for Douglas, who got to appear on "The Vampire Diaries" alongside her celebrity crush Ian Somerhalder.

"I got to guest star on my favorite show and I was just so honored and I absolutely loved it," she says.

And, of course, she's already thinking about getting back to training once the Kellogg's Tour (which is showcasing the beauty of the sport by pairing gymnastics with performance and dance) comes to an end.

"Once that's over, it's time to start training for real," Douglas says. "I gotta get back in the swing of things."

So perhaps chaos is regularity for Douglas. And she likes it that way. Next up on the Golden Girl's busy agenda? Figuring out her Halloween costume.

"I don't really have time to go and pick out a costume, so I'm thinking of just going as myself," she says. "Throwing on my medals and being like, 'Hey, what's up! It's me! I'm Gabby Douglas!' and seeing how many people actually think it's me. They'll be like, 'Wow, you look just like her!'

"And I'll be like, 'Yeah, I get that a lot.'"

In either case, with Douglas' popularity, she'll probably be reeling in pieces of candy like they're gold medals.

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One San Francisco bicycle enthusiast found an incredibly creative way to support the Giants this week.

Chris Phipps created this route on the social fitness website Strava, and rode it on Tuesday in support of San Francisco's Game 1 starter, Barry Zito.

Phipps has also mapped out another neat path around the city for Saturday's Game 3. Before the Giants take on the Tigers in Detroit this weekend, Phipps will do a 22.7-mile ride which is in the shape of the Giants' logo (see above).

The route may seem complicated, but Phipps has figured out how to connect the dots.

"To get the diagonals, I stop the GPS at point A, then restart it at point B," Phipps said, "and it draws a straight line between the points."

Phipps said his innovative designs began with a 49ers-themed ride in January.

(H/T to Beer Mug Sports)

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A 10-year-old Irish boy was walking along the sea near his home when he picked up a two-liter green plastic soda bottle. At first Oisin Millea thought the bottle was just garbage, but then he noticed there was a piece of paper inside that was bound by a hair tie.

Days of high tides and strong winds had produced lots of litter in the area. In other words, it was a scavenger's dream.

"There was loads of stuff washed up," Oisin told AFP. "I thought there was just a label inside this bottle but when I saw the hair band used to keep it together, I opened it up."

After translating the note, which was written in French, Oisin and his family discovered that the letter was crafted in 2004 by a pair of 12-year-old Canadian girls named Charlaine and Claudia. The girls were vacationing in Eastern Canada when they penned the letter, placed it in a plastic bottle and tossed it into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Eventually the bottle made its way into the Atlantic Ocean, and for eight years it traveled more than 3,100 miles. Oisin picked it up near his home on Ireland's southeastern shore.

The note reads as follows:

Hello, we are two girls who had the idea to launch a bottle into the sea. We are called Charlaine and Claudia. We are both 12 and we live in Montreal. We are on vacation in the Gaspésie, in the village of Grande Vallée. We had the idea to launch a bottle into the sea because we saw a TV show about young people putting messages in bottles. If you find our bottle, tell us when and how you found our bottle. Also tell us your name, age, place of residence. Example: Paris, Miami, etc ... To contact us write to us at: cheval-rouge95@hotmail.com

To finish, if you don’t have Internet, go to a friend’s or go to an Internet café because we are very curious to know if our bottle was found.

Charlaine and Claudia

Unfortunately that email address is no longer active, but the Montreal Gazette did get in touch with the women, who are still friends.

"It's a bit unreal," Charlaine Dalpé said. "It's really special, like something you see in the movies. You don't expect something like this to happen for real."

After making the discovery, Oisin has become somewhat of a local celebrity. But that doesn't exempt him from attending class.

“He was wondering if he was too famous to go to school today,” Oisin's mother, Aoife, told the Toronto Star.

According to the Gazette, Tourism Ireland announced that it would cover flights and accommodations for the two women to visit Ireland for one week during the summer of 2013.

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There's something wrong with women's basketball, and Geno Auriemma thinks he knows how to fix it.

Auriemma, who has led UConn to seven national championships, says fans are craving more offense in the women's game, and the best way to create more scoring is to lower the rims.

"Let's say the average men's player is 6-5 and the average woman is 5-11," Auriemma told the Hartford Courant. "Let's lower the rim seven inches; let's say 7.2 inches to honor Title IX [instituted in 1972]. If you lower it, the average fan likely wouldn't even notice it. Now there would be fewer missed layups because the players are actually at the rim [when they shoot]. Shooting percentages go up. There would be more tip-ins."

Auriemma pointed to women's volleyball, where the net is about seven inches lower than it is in the men's game. That adjustment, Auriemma says, gives women the chance for "same kind of success" as men.

The idea of lowering the rim is not currently a topic of conversation for the NCAA, but Auriemma says he plans on proposing it to the NCAA.

Auriemma mentioned several other changes he would like to see implemented in women's collegiate basketball, including a fixed NCAA Final Four location and a 24-second shot clock.

(H/T to Game On!)

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Greg Jennings could have given James Jones one of many different presents to celebrate the birthday of Jones' infant son. A toy, for instance, would have sufficed.

Instead, Jennings pulled a prank that Jones won't soon forget.

Jennings, who has missed Green Bay's last three games with a groin injury, filled Jones' Chevy Avalanche with silly string and had a local automotive service remove the tires from the truck. He painted the windows and wrote "Go Pack Go" on the windshield. He also scribbled "Happy Birthday Lil J.J." on the car's windows.

And just so everyone knew who was responsible for the mischief, Jennings tweeted this on Monday:

Apparently, Jennings' prank was payback for some handiwork that Jones did on Jennings' 29th birthday last month, when Jones filled Jennings' car with peanuts.

"They’ve been doing that stuff for years, so you expect it,” Jordy Nelson told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "I’m surprised he drove to work today."

Luckily for Jones, his birthday isn't until March. Presumably he will avoid Jennings at all costs.

(H/T to Yardbarker)

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Tim Tebow's No. 5 jersey was retired Friday night by Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla. The New York Jets backup quarterback starred at Nease for three years, leading the school to its first ever state championship in 2005.

Tebow could not make the ceremony, but his parents, Tim and Pam, were in attendance.

"I will never forget my time at Nease," Tebow said in a video message, "especially our state championship."

Tebow, who was homeschooled but allowed to play football at Nease, had a spectacular senior year. He threw for 3,302 yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for 1,163 and another 21 touchdowns. After losing their first game of the year, the Panthers went 13-1 over the final 14 games and ended the season as Florida's 4A state champions.

Tebow did just about everything for Nease. In the state final game against Seffner Armwood, Tebow accumulated more than 300 yards of offense and tallied six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing). With Seffner Armwood driving late in the game, Nease coach Craig Howard asked Tebow to play defensive line.

"We laugh about it now," Howard said last year. "He was the greatest player I've ever coached and it was the greatest decision I've ever made as a coach. I don't regret it."

Sure enough, Seffner Armwood did not score and fell to Nease by one touchdown.

Tebow also received an honorary degree from Nease on Friday night.

"It’s a great honor," said Bob Tebow. "The years at Nease were not only a lot of fun, but they were very formative years."

Nease followed Friday night's ceremony with a 43-13 hammering of Menendez.

(H/T to Cosby Sweaters)

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It's hard to find remnants of Jeremy Lin in New York these days. Not only is Lin gone, his best friend on the New York Knicks, Landry Fields, also left town for a sweeter offer in Toronto.

And before an exhibition game between the Raptors and the Knicks, Fields revealed to the New York Post that he has even disposed of the couch that Lin slept on while crashing at Fields' New York apartment.

"It was a rental couch," Fields said. "I had to give it back. I wonder if they even know (the history). It's probably boxed up."

Lin, who was on the end of the Knicks' bench for the first part of the 2011-12 season, was sleeping on the couches of Fields and his brother, Josh, before his dizzying rise to stardom in February. Lin famously crashed on Fields' couch the night before scoring 25 points and tallying seven assists against the Nets on Feb. 4.

Even though Lin and Fields have left the Big Apple, and the couch in question could be a garbage dump somewhere, Lin is still sleeping on teammates' furniture.

Some things never change.

(H/T to Game On)

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