What a week. For the Houston sports fan, it was a week with one goal: to beat Philadelphia. In the past, if Houston and Philadelphia were city-states, it would be less of a game and more of a classic armed conflict, with the two sides engaged in a bloody struggle to the death for glory and power. It may be better that we are not in those past times, especially considering the cities involved. A real city-vs-city fight between the citizens of both places could go medieval very quickly (literally). Imagine such a conflict with modern weapons between the projected firepower the Houstonians would bring and the sheer brutality of the Philadelphia fans…which would begin to move very quickly into Iran/Iraq City War territory.
That spiraling metaphor aside, the past week has been a strange oddity in the world of sports, where two cities find multiple sports teams battling it out in major/important competitions over the course of a full week. During the week of October 30 through November 5, the cities of Philadelphia and Houston will have played against each other in five baseball games between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies (since the series is guaranteed to last six after Wednesday’s result) and an NFL game. (An Amazon Prime Thursday Night Game) between the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles. Due to the impact of the weather, the NFL game took place at the same time as Game 5 of the World Series. Two relatively high pressure matches on the same night at the same time. The regular season football game in Houston and the World Series game in Philadelphia. How many would switch between one screen or another? In our age where people have access to multiple electronic devices, multi-monitoring must have been in play.
It’s not entirely foreign to Houston. In 2019, Washington DC and Houston found themselves in this kind of situation. The week of Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, the Nationals and Astros played three World Series games, and the Rockets and Wizards faced off on Oct. 30.e. 30e, the basketball game was in DC and the Astros hosted Game 7. In what was a rather entertaining offensive shootout, Houston defeated the Wizards 159-158, with Harden going for 59. However, the impact of that game was overshadowed by the Nationals becoming the first team to win a Series. seven-game world championship by winning every game on the road (the last being a 6-2 victory from behind) and losing every game at home. For the NBA, with the start of the season, the game has not taken on such a large importance in the overall NBA season. In the Battle of the Cities, Washington won two baseball games (games six and seven), but lost Game 5 and the NBA tilt. Although it’s a 2-2 record, most would say Washington had the better result.
As for this round, the NFL, with just 17 regular-season games (compared to the NBA’s 82), each individual game has season-changing significance. More often than not, the NFL will trump everyone else for ratings. That’s generally true, even if the match isn’t the must-attend thrilling event of the season. How did it go in this last battle of the cities?
The 2022 World Series has had its moments so far, but it still follows the recent trend of historically low ratings. Meanwhile, even a game like the Eagles vs. Texans, or the NFL equivalent of Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech, drew over 7.6 million viewers. Yet, and this has to be considered somewhat surprising, the World Series actually beat the NFL. Nationally, nearly 12.8 million viewers tuned in to watch Game 5 of the World Series. For the two markets with the highest stakes in the game, the World Series dominated the eyeballs of Philly and H-town, with the two cities registering 25.9 and 25.5 respectively (about 12.5-13 million viewers).
Typically, the NFL will win in the ratings, even if it offers a match dog. The Texans made it a more competitive game than expected, but the Eagles, with the 29-17 win, moved to 8-0 on the season. It’s the best start in the franchise’s 89-year history. However, the stakes in Game 5 of the World Series, with the winner moving less than a championship game away, were too high for baseball-crazed towns to ignore. The Astros’ thrilling 3-2 win, which only came in the Finals, was more than enough to draw Texans and Eagles fans from Amazon to Fox.
As of this writing, this Battle of the Cities stands at 3-3 (Philly won World Series games one and three and the NFL game, Houston won World Series games two, four and five ). With one more win, Houston will finish with four wins. A sixth game won, and the qualitative and quantitative match returns to Houston. A Houston victory in Game 7 (if necessary, Durga forbids) will end in a statistical tie, but Houston would take the qualitative victory. If Philly wins both games this weekend, they win 4-3. Obviously, the writer of this article would prefer Houston to take the W, but it’s been a fascinating week to see two cities battle it out for sporting and civic bragging rights.