Because baseball bats. Get it? Look, it's a very obvious joke about that thing that happened like everyone else is making! Yes, in perhaps unsurprising news, The Walking Dead's seventh season premiere has reported gangbuster ratings — a total of 17 million viewers tuned in in the US. This is actually not a record for the series (season five's premiere garnered 17.29 million viewers), but enough to routinely thump everything else that was on TV on the Sunday. It's a rather impressive number for the show, and proof that even after seven years the series has the capacity to command feverish attention, but also kind of a depressing one, because it essentially validates the creative team's decision to drag out the cliffhanger to season six for a lot longer than it should have.
It's very obvious in hindsight to see that's why the decision to tease whoever Negan whacked to death at the very end of season six — and then spin it out over months and months and months of teasing and speculation and kind of ridiculous spoiler policing for a moment that, it turns out, was basically "spoiled" by the 100th issue of The Walking Dead comic's release four years ago — was made.
But whatever The Walking Dead ultimately sacrificed in dramatic tension surrounding Negan's threat, it certainly got curious people to tune in for something they were forced to wait half a year for in droves. The fact that they did so in huge numbers probably indicates to AMC it's worth doing something equally stunt-y in the future... so stay tuned for the inevitable cliffhanger ending to season seven, I guess?