I assume by “MLB suffers” that you are primarily speaking about TV ratings, and, if so, that is hard to argue against. A large market or two with a rooting interest will certainly drive up national ratings. How local ratings for cities have varied per year for the last 20 years or so when their team isn’t in the WS. I use that span since I think it was about then when the national ratings for WS accelerated their decline. As an aside, if I’m not mistaken, the WSox— Astros WS you referenced was a fairly early part of that decline.What I’m referencing here is that when the biggest and best baseball markets in America like Chicago, New York, So Cal Anaheim, St. Louis, and Boston do not make the playoffs... MLB suffers.
You can still have interesting and spirited baseball playoff games even if it’s the smallest markets in the World Series. But the National interest level is not there and certainly not in those major markets and baseball hotbeds.
The World Series is just at a different level when the baseball-passionate cities are involved. Do we really want to see The Trash Can Bangers in the Series again? And no, they are just not a baseball hotbed in H-Town. But they are the favorite team of City Maintenance and Trash Hauling Workers around the World.
And thankfully, the White Sox put them in their place in 2005. Unfortunately, it’s been the Sox that have played like trash since then.
So are the TV ratings for let’s say Chicago area that much lower when two of your non-legacy teams are in WS versus having one in versus having both from that group — assuming none are Chicago teams? I wonder because though I don’t live there now, I grew up and lived in Chicago area for years and grew up not just a passionate Cubs fan but a passionate baseball fan. And I have no additional desire to watch Yankees or Dodgers in WS than any other team. In fact, they are very low on my list of teams I want to watch in WS.
Going into playoffs, I was rooting for Texas and Arizona to make WS because as a passionate baseball fan, those were the most compelling teams/stories for me Neither team was expected to be good this year (or at least not as good as they were). DBacks have one of the more exciting young players in the game, while Texas has good relatively young players, a SP that turns it around when traded to Texas, and a very accomplished manager who is leaving his imprint on his team in his first year. My third choice would have been Atlanta to see arguably the best player this side of Ohtani. I just really wonder how many fans outside of Dodger fans care that Dodgers won’t be in WS. Sure national TV ratings will likely be lower because of the LA market size, but is the average baseball fan in say New York less likely to watch WS now that Dodgers won’t be in it?