If you think political talk radio is a brutal place, you should try sports talk radio. In the world of news talk, you have a biased hosed with a political agenda attempting to spin current events to make you see them his way. In the world of sports talk, you largely have a field of minds so jammed with statistics and dates that they are unable to form a point of view on anything other than a simple Vegas line, let alone manage to try to find a way to spin the event for the mindless masses who tune it. This can make listening to channels like Mad Dog Radio on Sirius and XM Radio an exercise in frustration. Yet it is an exercise that I perform almost daily, and occasionally I call in to try to straighten some of these guys out. My latest beef? The New York Knicks.
I want to start by congratulating the New York Yankees on their World Series victory. I would also like to point out (in the interest of full disclosure) that while I am a Chicago White Sox fan, I grew up in Connecticut and was a huge Yankees fan. To this day, the team has a special place in my heart, but head to head it's the White Sox any day. That having been said, I am absolutely outraged at the way the media has reacted to the Yankees 27th World Championship. The suggestion is that we need a salary cap in baseball to prevent teams like the Yankees from having an "unfair" advantage. This is absolutely ridiculous and I intend to prove it here.
Now, looking at this list, Yankee Hater will say "See, they have the highest payroll by far! That's why they won!" For a reality check, representing the American League last year in the World Series were the Tampa Bay Rays who come in at #25 on the list with a $63 million payroll. The Twins, who made the playoffs this year, rank right above them with a $65 million payroll. The Rockies and Cardinals also made the playoffs this year despite being 18 and 13 respectively on the list. So if a high payroll guarantees an entrance to the post season, someone should let the 2nd and 3rd highest payrolls know that they were robbed, as the Mets and Cubs didn't make it in. For a fact, 5 of the top 10 payrolls didn't make the playoffs. Of the 8 teams to make it in, four were in the top eight. By rank the remaining teams were 9, 13, 18, and 24.
Now at this point, the controversy should go away. But it won't, so I go on. While it is true that the Yankees have made the playoffs every year since '95 except last year, when the highest payroll in baseball netted them a 3rd place finish, other teams have done notably well also. The Braves (11) made the playoffs every year except 3. Cleveland (15) dead in the middle of the Payroll race made it 7 times. Minnesota (24) made it in 5 times. Meanwhile Detroit, with the 5th highest payroll, made it only once over the same stretch. The Cubs (3) made it 4 times, and the Mets (2) made the playoffs 3 of those years. That's right, the team halfway down the list made it the same number of times as the 2 and 3 payrolls combined. And the Twins, at #24 were only 2 appearances away from tying the feat.
So let me expose this notion of a salary cap in baseball for what it is. Yankee Hater, shut up and deal with it. If this were truly about the disparity in payrolls, should this outrage not have come last year when the Phillies played a team they nearly doubled on the payroll list? That aside, should not the anger be directed at Philadelphia for "buying a Championship"? After all, it was the Phillies, not the Yankees, who dug deep to fill some holes down the stretch and sign Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee. When Wong went down for the Yankees, they filled the hole from within the organization. And isn't that how it is supposed to be done? Oh no, wait... they were highly criticized for that as well, remember? Trying to make a starter out of Joba Camberlain was one of the most criticized decisions Girardi made all year. So what is it that you really want, Yankee Hater? Do you want them to try to buy a Championship like Philly did or find someone inside to fill the hole like most teams have to do?
Since 2000, the Yankees have won 2 World Series as have the Boston Red Sox. Other than that, the winners by their ranking on the 2009 payroll list are as follows. Philadelphia Phillies (7), St. Louis Cardinals (13), Chicago White Sox (12), Florida Marlins (30 [yes, that's dead last]), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (6), and the Arizona Diamond Backs (19). Notice, of the top ten payrolls, only four are on that list.
Of the last ten years, here is where the World Series winning team ranked on the payroll list when they won it.
2009 New York Yankees, #1.
2008 Philadelphia Phillies, #13.
2007 Boston Red Sox, #2.
2006 St Louis Cardinals, #13.
2005 Chicago White Sox, #13.
2004 Boston Red Sox, #2.
2003 Florida Marlins, #20.
2002 Anaheim Angels, #15.
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, #8.
2000 New York Yankees, #1.
1999 New York Yankees, #1.
So in the last ten years, the highest payroll in baseball has only turned into a Championship 3 times. That is the same number of times the 13th highest payroll (almost middle of the pack) has won it. The 2nd highest payroll has turned into 2 trophies, the 8 spot has netted one, as have the 15th spot and the 20th. Adding the ranks and dividing it by the number of years gives you an average payroll ranking of 9 (8.9) for the World Series Champion. In 2003, the 20th payroll battled the highest and won.
So there you have it, Yankee Hater. You can sing your payroll blues to me all you want. The fact of the matter is plain and simple. The highest payroll does not add up to the World Series Trophy. You cannot buy a Championship. The Yankees won it fair and square. You can love it, or you can hate it, but you cannot use your skewed numbers to ruin my game. You can't ruin my game!!! Why not? Because I reject your notion? No, although I do. Because the MLBPA has these numbers too, and they won't let you.