Thursday, October 06, 2011

Two wins away from quieting the complainers

What are the biggest complaints you hear fans say about the state of baseball?

Two I constantly hear are "The Northeast Bias" and "If you don't have a huge payroll, you don't have a shot."

OK... now look at the current playoff situation.

Let's say the Tigers beat the Yankees tonight. It's one game. Anything can happen in one game.
Let's say the Cardinals are loose and take advantage of a tight Phillies team. (Like YOU thought this series was going 5 games!)

Those are two games, each being won by the visiting team. Not anything outrageous (like both the Braves AND Red Sox flopping down the stretch.)

Guess what would be the result?

No team east of Detroit would be in the post season.
St. Louis... Texas... Detroit... and either Arizona or Milwaukee.

And guess what would ALSO happen?

The top 9 payrolls in baseball would all be playing golf during the LCS.

If these two events happen, the Yankees and Phillies (1 and 2 in payroll) would join #3 Boston, #4 Anaheim, #5 White Sox, #6 Cubs, #7 Mets, #8 Giants and #9 Twins on the links.

No coast teams.
None of the top 30% of the top payrolls.

If that happens, I expect a LOT of people who complain about the state of baseball to be watching... and cheering... and realizing the myths of the inequity of balance in baseball is just that.

I talked about it before the Super Bowl this year. I stand by everything I said.

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  1. Here's my take on this situation. A huge payroll alone cannot buy"a championship. However, it creates a significantly longer window of opportunity for the top half of spenders as opposed to the bottom half. Attentive baseball fans like to espouse, "Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen." And that's the key here.

    Let's look at the last ten groups of playoff teams, going back to the 2002 season. In that time, the Yankees have made the playoffs in nine out of ten years. The only other teams to make the playoffs more than half the time are the Angels, Twins, Red Sox, and Cardinals. Those teams, starting with the Yankees, have the 1st, 4th, 9th, 3rd, and 11th highest 2011 MLB team payrolls, respectively. There is a definite correlation between payroll and playoff likelihood. The team with the second-highest payroll, the Phillies, was one of two teams making the playoffs five times during that span (the other being the Braves).

    I also made some calculations after dividing the league into 10-team thirds. The top salaried tier can expect to make the playoffs an average of 4.3 times during that ten-year span. The middle year averaged 2.4 times, and the bottom third averaged 1.1 appearances per the ten years.

    You're right, the World Series has been won by many different teams in the last ten years, not always by the biggest spender, either. But for teams like the Yankees, Reds Sox, and Phillies, the window of opportunity is ALWAYS open. Small-market teams find themselves having to gamble the future away because their window is closing. Sometimes this gamble pays off (2003 Marlins), but many times it doesn't. Having a huge budget allows the bigger teams to reload in a shorter amount of time, a luxury the smaller teams do not have.

    That being said, there remains something to admire about the Yankees. The freedom of spending they enjoy is often paired with good decision making, the likes of which top-10 payroll teams like the Cubs and Mets can only dream about. Money keeps that window of opportunity open. Couple that with smart decision making and a little bit of luck to earn a championship.

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  3. Compare baseball to the NFL and the NBA in terms of how many teams make it even to the Conference Final/Champions.

    Take a look at teams like the D'Backs and Padres who win, reload and win again pretty quickly.

    Take a look at teams like the Rays who just draft smartly.

    Sure not EVERY team gets to compete every year.
    But the other leagues have teams that NEVER compete.

    I just miffed by the strawman argument every off season that the Yankees buy a championship every year when in the past 10 World Series they have won as many as the Marlins

  4. I agree with Thorzul that money can help you stay in the picture more often. In baseball, it often times comes down to who is hot at the moment. As a Rangers fan I was hoping to play the ice cold Red Sox instead of the red hot Rays. The Cardinals took a hot streak into the playoffs and have pushed the best team in baseball to a 5th game. As you said, anything can happen in that game. I'm one of those that complain of an "east coast" bias, but that's from a media stand point. The big market east coast teams get more national coverage, but I'm not stupid. I know it's because the ratings for any playoff or World Series that doesn't involve New York or Philly are going to be very poor. Ratings, and the dollars that come with them, are all the networks care about. They don't care that Texas has never won a World Series or that the fans in Arizona or Detroit are living and dying with their teams. I'll bet there are some very nervous people over at the networks...very worried that Philly might lose to St. Louis and the lack of an east coast team will cause a ratings vacuum on that side of the country.

  5. Really pulling for St. Louis to end the Phillies season tonight.

  6. Anonymous12:40 PM

    I think that the media bias certainly creates the perception that playoffs only matter when certain teams are in - when those teams get in, they get the prime TV slots and the most publicity. It's very frustrating to us who are NOT fans of Yankees, Red Sox. For example:

    For those of us who are real fans of the game, it's refreshing to see small market teams and teams who haven't won a Series in decades be playing in October. The world would be a boring place if the same teams were playing in late October every year, but that's what the media and MLB wants.

    I stopped watching Yankees in playoffs - the announcers are so obviously pulling for the Yankees to win that it takes some of the fun out of it for me.

  7. It's funny how many New York people think the announcers are rooting AGAINST the Yankees...