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Once again: baseball has greater parity than the NFL

Jan 12, 2011, 10:38 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Bartlett tags out Texas Rangers' Andrus as he attempted to steal in the sixth inning during their MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg

There are some beliefs people hold in their heads and hearts that are simply immune to reasoning. You can’t change someone’s religion via logic and reason (and don’t ever try). It seems that most political beliefs these days are articles of faith rather than fact-based positions. So too is the concept that the NFL has greater parity than Major League Baseball.

Really: every other month someone comes up with a new analysis to disprove the notion that the NFL is a somehow fairer enterprise, and within ten minutes I’ll have a comment around these parts from someone talking about how no teams but the Yankees and Red Sox have a chance, about how baseball needs a salary cap and about how football is a fair and just pursuit that is economically, competitively and morally on the side of the angels.  It’s uncanny.

Still, that won’t stop me from linking stuff like this from Tyler Kepner:

In the N.F.L., 24 of 32 teams have made the playoffs over the past five seasons. That’s 75 percent. In baseball, 22 of 30 have made the playoffs in the same time span. That’s 73.3 percent, despite the fact that the N.F.L. awards 12 playoff spots each season, and baseball – for now, anyway – awards only eight.

I wouldn’t trade baseball’s system for the NFL’s for anything. And that would be the case even if football wasn’t poised to rip itself to pieces in a labor war. A labor war that must have been fomented by the sides arguing if the NFL’s system is merely perfect or if it’s “absolutely the best most perfect system ever invented infinity.”

  1. BC - Jan 12, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Here’s my theory.
    In baseball, you HAVE to develop a farm system. You either develop your home grown talent, or use it to trade for proven MLB talent. Your farm system sucks, then with rare exception you suck. There are what, two guys I can think of (Strasburg and that kid in Cincinnati) that came basically from college to the majors. The Yankees had to spend their way back to being championship level. The Phillies gave up a boatload of prospects to get Halliday – but the point was that they HAD them. The Reds by and large grew their talent. It’s just more dynamic in baseball because of the farm systems.
    In football, it’s all about the draft and thus much more static. Those guys will (if you draft well) be playing lead roles on your team for years. Indy gets Manning, Patriots get Brady, Steelers get Roethlisberger and Palomalu, the Ravens draft Lewis and Reed…. There’s more stability year to year, and the teams that draft well year to year are generally the same ones.

    • florida76 - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      BC, you are correct about the importance of building a strong farm system. But money is a huge part of that, and the Yankees/Phillies have a big advantage over teams like the Reds. Cincinnati will be hard pressed to make the postseason again, and in a few years, will begin to lose their young stars. It’s the same old story, ask the A’s or Rays or Marlins, etc.

      Football is the national pastime because it understands parity. The percentage of teams in the playoffs is irrelevant, because the system is fair, and small market teams are serious title contenders for a long time. By contrast, in baseball, the Twins have been consistent winners, but not serious title contenders. Big difference. The Rays had a Cinderella season in ’08, were mediocre in ’09, and lost in the first round in ’10. They will likely be in another city before reaching the playoffs again.

      • BC - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:29 AM

        But in football, you have teams like the Eagles and Chargers who are winners (OK, San Diego stubbed its toe this year) but aren’t really title contenders, save for that one Eagles Super Bowl trip. Reason? They draft lousy. The Eagles got lightning in a bottle with Vick, but their defense is horrible and they’ve done nothing to address it through the draft. The Chargers O-line is awful, and their special teams are terrible – speaking to the fact that they haven’t replenished the second-level of their roster through the draft. It’s all about the draft in NFL.
        I think the Reds will be around for a little while. They hang on to Votto, Arroyo and a couple other pieces, and they get a full healthy season from Volquez, they’ll be OK next year, battling with the Cardinals if not beating them. Once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen. Baseball also had the added aspect of the rent-a-player – grab someone in late July to put you over the top, then say bye bye if you can’t afford him next year. NFL doesn’t really have that.
        I think baseball is way more dynamic than the NFL in terms of who you’ll see winning year to year. The other thing about MLB is without revenue-sharing (which will never happen) you’ll always have the bottom feeders year after year like KC and Pittsburgh. But the mid-level teams always have a chance depending on what’s in their farm system or what prospects they can flip for who. (Or whom? Grammar help please!)

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        Salt in an open wound BC. Burning stinging rock salt. I endured wind chills in the teens 10 rows from the sidelines, just to see them tank once again. But since I’m used to it, and didn’t expect a winning season this year, it isn’t as bad as the super bowl mess. But thank god for the Flyers, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and are proving the late run last season was no fluke.

        Uhh ohh, i said God. Whoops..

    • brianabbe - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      The best teams in any sport are the the ones who rely the least on pro free agency, with rare exception. Consider this as well. In the uncapped NFL season of 2010, the lowest five payrolls, all of which were all well under $100 million, made the playoffs, where as only one of the top five payrolls, ranging from $140-$155 million, made the playoff. That would be your defending champs, NO.

      • BC - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:39 PM

        The Patriots and Colts aren’t in the top five payrolls? I find that hard to believe.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Football is less of a team game than baseball. Even with a cadre of stud pitching, the Phillies underachieved last year. But check out the last 18 Super Bowl winning QBs. Only 3 weren’t special…Eli Manning, Johnson, and Dilfer. The other 15 are hall of famers or likely HOFers…Brady, Peyton, Favre, Aikman, Big Ben, Brees, Elway, Warner. You can rebuild a franchise with one draft pick in football. In baseball, you have a sucky organization, a la KC, Pittsburgh, etc. and your team will likely suffer for a decade or more. In football, unless you have a complete dipshit like Matt Millen running the show and drafting WR’s in the top 10 every year, you HAVE to eventually get that special player with a top pick…and when you do, it’s showtime…see Rams, Falcons, and teams like that. Even Detroit is getting better if Stafford could stay healthy.

    • paperlions - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      That is some of the worst logic I’ve ever seen.
      Baseball is nearly an individual sport compared to football. In football, if one player doesn’t do his job a play doesn’t work, a TD is given up, whatever. In baseball, only one player at time has to do his job in most cases.
      If a special QB is all you need to win, then the team with the best QB would win every year. Last I checked the Colts have only won a single SB in all of Manning’s years and Favre only won a single SB in all of his years, because MANY other parts are required along with a good QB. That argument is like saying all a team need is an ace to win a WS because nearly every team to win one had an ace.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        A special QB is NOT all you need to win…but you can’t win without one. Way to take my “worst logic” and read it incorrectly.

    • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:48 AM

      You’re comparing the NLCS loser to Super Bowl winners. How is that a fair comparison?

      If you look at the list of QBs you mentioned and the Super Bowls they played in, you’ll see those games were far more team-based than you give credit for.

      The Patriots won in 2001 due to their defense stifling the vaunted Rams offense (Brady’s stats were a joke that game). All 3 of their Super Bowls were won on the leg of Adam Vinatieri.

      Peyton Manning’s long Super Bowl win came about due to a timely interception returned for a TD as Manning himself had a very un-Manning-like game (he wasn’t very good in that year’s playoffs at all, really).

      Favre had a good game vs. the Pats but they also had a kickoff returned for a TD and the Packer defense forced 4 turnovers.

      Aikman’s only good Super Bowl performance was in ’92; his ’93 game was bad and ’96 game was decent. And Buffalo had 9 (NINE!) turnovers in ’92 while Emmitt Smith had a very good game in ’92 and a great game in ’93. The ’96 game was won more by Larry Brown’s 2 interceptions than anything else.

      Roethlisberger didn’t even throw his team’s TD pass in the ’05 Super Bowl; a WR did. And in the ’08 game, Santonio Holmes turned a 10-yard pass into a 50-yard pass and was the guy who got his toes in for the winning TD. Not to mention James Harrison’s 100-yard interception returned for a TD at the end (literally!) of the 1st half. In 2 Super Bowls, Ben has only 2 big plays he’s involved in and only one could he be attributed even 50% of the credit for.

      Brees had a very good game but the Saints still needed their kicker to make 3 40+ yard FGs (a Super Bowl record), a surprise onside kick, and Tracy Porter’s interception returned for a TD to win that game.

      Elway played poorly in his 1st Super Bowl win and great in his 2nd. The 1st one was carried by Terrell Davis and he also had a good game in the 2nd.

      Warner had a great game in ’99 but they still needed 3 FGs and a big tackle on the final play of the game at the 1-yard line to win.

      Not one of these QBs carried their teams on their backs in the Super Bowl. Every one of them needed help from a RB or a kicker or their defense to win those games.

      I’ll let someone else explain why “Football is less of a team game than baseball” is an extremely ignorant statement.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        LOL stick to baseball you guys. You have no clue about the game of football. The QB is the #1 position in all of sports. If your QB sucks, you aren’t winning a Super Bowl. Period. If your QB is great, then you have a shot at the Super Bowl. If your QB is average, then you probably will be home watching the game. Like I said…15 of the last 18 Super Bowl winning QBs are Hall of Famers or likely Hall of Famers. Dispute that, then come back to me.

        Football is MUCH LESS of a team game than baseball…when it comes to BUILDING A TEAM. In the context of building a winner, one draft pick can change a franchise. The Nationals got a certified stud pitcher, and nobody figured they were making the playoffs this year. The Rams, who won 2 games, drafted a QB and were one win from winning their division!!! And really, isn’t that all Craig’s post was talking about…MAKING THE PLAYOFFS?

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        The fact 15 of the last 18 Super Bowl winners are likely HOFers is irrelevant, especially since Aikman, Elway, Brady, and Roethlisberger all won multiple Super Bowls (10 between them). That totally skews the numbers. If you looked at other positions, you’d see tons of HOFers as well. You’re ignoring them because it doesn’t support your point. Dallas had an entire OL that could be in the HOF, not to mention their HOF WR and HOF RB and several HOF defensive players. The Steelers will have more than a handful of HOF defensive players including Polamalu and Harrison and were more responsible for both Super Bowl wins than Ben. Elway had a few potential HOFers with him as well.

        QBs get all the glamor but they don’t win on their own. How many of these potential HOF QBs didn’t have equally-talented WRs? Aikman had Irvin, Manning had Harrison and Wayne, Brees had Colston, Roethlisberger had Ward, Elway had Sharpe and Smith, Warner had Bruce and Holt, Brady had Brown and Branch. Really only Favre did it without great WRs, but Freeman was great in ’96. All these WRs most likely won’t make the HOF, but that’s more due to QBs and RBs dominating the spots than anything else. The same way those 2 spots always win the Heisman and the MVP despite not always deserving it. They’re glamor positions so they, surprise surprise, receive more pub.

        Your comparison of Strasburg to Bradford is, like your last comparison, hilariously terrible. One played only 12 games (1/3 of what a normal starter plays in) on a bad team in a division that produced 2 playoff teams while the other played in 100% of his team’s games and played in the WORST DIVISION IN SPORTS. The team that made the playoffs over them will go down as the worst division winner in NFL history going by record.

        The fact your two comparisons essentially pitted the bronze medal against the gold and a part-timer to a full-time starter just proves you don’t have a case. Otherwise you could’ve come up with legitimate comparisons that actually make sense.

        What next, going to compare the Royals to the Patriots?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        Well, since you asked…the Patriots WERE the Royals from 1988 to 1993. They won a total of 18 games. Then they got the #1 pick, got Bledsoe, and he took them to a Super Bowl. Then they got Brady and the rest is history. That will NEVER happen to the Royals. There isn’t a single player in the world who you can put on the Royals to make them win 3 of the next 6 World Series. There isn’t a single player you can put on ANY TEAM in baseball that will make them go from 5 years of suckdom to becoming a great team.

        That’s all I am saying. In football, one player can make the difference between 2-14 and 8-8. In baseball…Strasburg would not have been the difference between 60 and 80 wins for the Nationals. Nobody would have. Baseball teams take time to build. Football teams can be built overnight, with the right combination of draft picks and free agent signings. A front office that was being ridiculed just 2 years ago could win the Super Bowl and nobody would be surprised. If the Royals or Pirates win it all 2 years from now…it would be pretty shocking.

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        In 1993, the Patriots also hired Bill Parcells. Otherwise known as one of the greatest head coaches of all-time. He’s also a very good defensive coach who has improved every team he’s coached within 2 seasons. I’m guessing Bledsoe wasn’t the end-all, be-all reason.

        From ’89 to ’93, their offense was in the 20s every year in points scored and their defense was in the 20s every year except 1 (they were 15th) in points allowed. Parcells arrived and they went from that to 22/11, 8/12, 23/25, and 2/14. Under Pete Carroll, their best year was in ’97 when their ofense and defense were both 8th.

        Most really good teams have BOTH a quality offense and a quality defense. The numbers bear this out. If one or the other isn’t above-average, chances are you won’t win a Super Bowl.

        What is the big deal with a quick turnaround? The time it takes to build a quality team isn’t relevant because despite the difference between the two sports, it’s equal among all the teams in each sport. And if any football team can hit on the right combo of picks and signings and be on top in 2 seasons, all that does is support the case that football has more parity.

      • BC - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:46 PM

        Fiorentino – I’m with you. Look at the Rams. They added that LB from Ohio State (can’t recall his name) two years ago, and Sam Bradford last year. Boom, you go from 1-15 to playing to win the division in Week 17 (albeit at .500, but still….).
        If Albert Pujols goes to Pittsburgh tomorrow, the only thing that happens is Pujols gets intentionally walked 300 times. The team might improve a couple games – from stinking on ice to room-temperature stinking.
        PS. Rod Smith was a fantasy football god, he won me my league one year.

  3. nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    That’s because the really good football teams have very smart front offices that keep them at the top. The Patriots, Steelers, Colts, and Ravens (and it looks like the Saints and Falcons will soon join these ranks) have all remained at or near the top of football due to their front offices making smart decisions. If a football team hasn’t made the playoffs in the past 5 seasons, it’s most likely due to having a poor front office than anything else.

    Contrast that with baseball where you can have a great front office but still not make the playoffs because another team has a similar front office but also a lot more money. While money alone doesn’t equal success, it makes mistakes easier to get past and allows more improvements to be made.

    Despite the numbers, football has an much more even playing field in which every team has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. So if some football teams aren’t making the playoffs, it’s very likely to be solely due to front-office mistakes. The same can’t be said for baseball.

    • florida76 - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      nps6724, I couldn’t agree with you more. Noted Yankees fan Bob Costas is one of the few people in the media who understands the issue of competitive imbalance we’ve seen in mlb for about two decades.

      Responding to those who claim baseball has always had rich and poor, Costas points out the gap was never this wide, as seen by local TV revenue and new big market stadiums. In the old days, bad management or location was the major reason teams failed. Smaller market teams had a reasonable chance to keep their teams intact, and had a much larger window of opportunity for a world title.

      The declining world series TV ratings are a revealing indicator of baseball’s problems. Smaller market super bowl games, i.e. Saints-Colts, absolutely crush big market fall classics i.e. Yanks-Phillies.

      • pwf207 - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:08 PM

        How can you refute the fact that the two sports had nearly identical percentages of teams make the playoff despite the fact that football has 50% more playoff spots. You can’t just, “say despite the numbers” because you want to. 50% more playoff spots is a huge disparity and yet over a lengthy period, five years, the two sports are nearly identical. How else should you judge a system than by the results it produces?

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        Because the “despite the numbers” comment wasn’t talking about the numbers specifically; it was to say football still has a more even playing field. Which it does.

        The disparity derives from the fact football has a handful of very well-run teams that leave some otherwise good teams out of the playoffs every year. Just this year, 2 10-6 teams missed the playoffs. A couple years ago, the 11-5 Patriots missed as well.

        Going by just the numbers mentioned in the article is ridiculous. How many teams were within 5 games of the wild-card in baseball last season? 2. How many teams were within 1 game of the wild-card in football? 3. That tells you just as much about the parity of each sport as the number of different playoff teams. While the playoffs are what counts for each TEAM, parity means far more than that. I don’t know which sport comes out better in this regard, but it’s worth looking at.

      • spudchukar - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        While it may be true that it is becoming increasingly more difficult for small market teams to compete, the failure of Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Baltimore et al, lies directly at the feet of their organizations, NOT MLB. Because football is an inferior game, a team may recover from a diaspora more quickly. College players/draft choices can be inserted into a lineup immediately; allowing teams to recover more quickly. Baseball, being a game more difficult to master requires an aging process, with rare exceptions. Therefore, the building process is more arduous and lengthy. This should give football the edge, with both the rise and fall occurring more quickly. However, in both sports it is clear that organizational decisions bear the responsibility for successes and failures. The fact that baseball has the edge in parity stats is more indicative of the bone-headedness of the failing organizations in the NFL then their playoff structure.
        Baseball is very healthy. Football has some troubling symptoms. Both, however are doing quite well compared to other businesses in the current economic climate, and once football irons out its labor issues it will rebound. To compare TV ratings of a one-game championship, to a seven game series, is of course silly. Football and its fans have a lot of growing to do but unfortunately for them Baseball has time on its side.

      • Adam - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        An NFL season is 16 games. An MLB season is 162. If you extrapolate out what the Falcons did this year, they went 140-20.

        nps6724 asked the question of “how many teams were within 5 games of the wild card last season?” The answer is 2, but since a football season is 10 times longer you should be looking at how many teams were within 10 games of the wild card if you want to be a little fairer. The answer to that is 6 teams. So for the 2 playoff spots there were 8 teams vying for them. That’s 8 out of 30, a pretty dang good percentage.

        So how many NFL teams were within 1 game of the wild card spot? The answer is 3. So for FOUR playoff spots there were 7 teams in the hunt. Double the spots, fewer teams.

    • Lucas - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      “…football has an much more even playing field in which every team has a legitimate shot at the playoffs.”

      Seriously, are you telling me that at any point in the past DECADE the Lions have had a shot at the playoffs? (you said *any* team)

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        They had as shot every year to fire Matt Millen and draft well. They chose not to. But as soon as they DID, they suddenly became better and are moving up now.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      Isn’t this basically what I said above when I said…

      “You can rebuild a franchise with one draft pick in football. In baseball, you have a sucky organization, a la KC, Pittsburgh, etc. and your team will likely suffer for a decade or more. In football, unless you have a complete dipshit like Matt Millen running the show and drafting WR’s in the top 10 every year”

      You seem to just enjoy ripping me without even reading what the hell I write. We basically agree…the difference is that I attribute front-office to making draft picks…and those draft picks have more of a bearing on IMMEDIATE success in football than they do in baseball.

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM

        No it’s not the same because you reduce it down to “You can rebuild a franchise with one draft pick in football”. And that’s just wrong Just drafting a good QB won’t win you games unless you already have a good team built around them (Baltimore).

        St. Louis won more games this year, but they drafted well in 2009 and with their non-Bradford picks in 2010 and got a new front office and head coach in recent years. Their top 2 WRs were 2nd-year players in 2010; their starting LT and starting RT were both drafted in 2010. And just to include some stats, their offense was 26th in the NFL in points scored, but 12th in points allowed. Their defense is the reason they improved. And their head coach just happens to be a defensive coach. Go figure.

        You’re completely ignoring free agency. In football, it’s rare that one key free agent turns you into a contender or makes an underdog contender into a world beater. Football doesn’t really work like that. In baseball, this happens far more often. So while draft picks make a more immediate impact in football, free agency does the same for baseball.

        It’s possible to succeed in baseball with a mediocre front office, usually due to having more money. That’s not true for football.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        I disagree with you that it is possible to succeed with a mediocre front office in baseball. Because that will hurt your minor leagues, and in turn, hurt your club. Name the mediocre front-offices that have won it all. However, in football, a guy can go from mediocre to great by getting lucky with that one QB(what was Belichick before he got Brady? What did Holmgren become when he left Favre? ) I think you discount the true value of the draft in football..and especially the QB. It is widely regarded as the single most important position in all of sports for a reason. You can;t win a championship with one who sucks. In baseball, you don’t need a stud pitcher to win it all. You don’t need a stud 3rd baseman…or Left Fielder. But combine them all together and you will have a great team…and have a better chance of winning it all. In football, you can have the greatest team ever, but if your QB sucks, you are NOT winning it all. Harbaugh didn’t suck in 85. Dilfer didn’t suck in 2000. Johnson was better than average with the Bucs. Don’t look at the specific game…it is a season-long thing with regards to the special QBs. Sure, a guy can have a bad game and the defense picks him up. But it’s no coincidence that the same type of QB usually wins championships…special ones.

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        Holmgren went to the Super Bowl and almost won it with Matt Hasselbeck. If not for the Steelers great defense (and according to some, terrible refs), they would’ve won. He also had 6 playoff appearances in Seattle, including 5 straight. How did Favre do without Holmgren? 6 playoff appearances, including 4 straight, zero Super Bowl appearances.

        You give far too much credit to QBs and few too little to the rest of the players. Much like the media does. Look up the defensive rankings for all these teams each year and I think you’ll be surprised. Let’s go back to ’92 and see how each Super Bowl winner did in points scored and points allowed (these don’t differentiate between offensive and defensive points scored or allowed, such as interceptions returned for TDs, or special-team TDs).

        ’92 – 2nd in points scored, 7th in points allowed
        ’93 – 2nd, 2nd
        ’94 – 1st, 6th
        ’95 – 3rd, 3rd
        ’96 – 1st, 1st
        ’97 – 1st, 6th
        ’98 – 2nd, 8th
        ’99 – 1st, 4th
        ’00 – 14th, 1st
        ’01 – 6th, 6th
        ’02 – 18th, 1st
        ’03 – 12th, 1st
        ’04 – 4th, 2nd
        ’05 – 9th, 3rd
        ’06 – 2nd, 23rd
        ’07 – 14th, 17th
        ’08 – 20th, 1st
        ’09 – 1st, 20th

        5 offenses outside the top 10, 3 defenses outside the top 10.

        Again, QBs are marketed in a way that we think they carry their teams. It’s just not true.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:17 PM

        Best example I can give you is the Atlanta Falcons. With Vick they were good, made the playoffs, and started fading. Then he went to jail. The next year, they faded all the way to 4-12 with Joey Harrington and Chris Redman. Next year? They get Matt Ryan, go 11-5 and make the playoffs. Now, you can quote all the #s you want. The fact is that a QB makes the whole team better. Even the defense. The less time they are on the field, the better they are.

        Again, quote all the #s you want…the fact is that 15 of the last 18 Super Bowls were won by QBs who are HoFers. And who knows about Eli. Dilfer had an all-time defense and neither him, nor Brad Johnson sucked. You can’t win a Super Bowl with a terrible QB. Doesn’t mean that ALL great QBs win the Super Bowl(see Marino and Fouts to name 2) But Super Bowl winners, by and large, have special QBs.

      • nps6724 - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        Atlanta’s defense was just as terrible as their offense in ’07 (both ranked 29th in points). Since then, their offensive and defensive rankings in points have been 10/11, 13/14, and 5/5. That’s not just the QB.

        Any time you replace a QB with one of the worst examples of a QB in football, your team will suffer. Just like replacing a quality SP with one of the worst. If Atlanta had replaced Vick with a mediocre QB and still struggled, you may have a point. But the guys they used would’ve been bad #2 QBs on the majority of NFL teams.

        You keep ignoring all the OTHER great HOF players that reach the Super Bowl as if they didn’t have anything to do with. And you can’t legitimately argue with the facts posted; nearly every Super Bowl winner since ’92 has had a defense equal to their offense.

        Dilfer was a bad QB in 2000. He is known as the worst Super-Bowl winning QB in history. His TD-INT ratio that season was 1.09 (12 TD, 11 INT) and he played terribly in that Super Bowl. There is no argument that you can make that can paint him in a positive light for that season.

      • seanmk - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        Chris if you only focus on this like adding and subtracting Qb’s then of course you’re not going to see why the falcons improved. Football is way more of a team sport then baseball is. football is 11 guys working together on every play while baseball is a pitcher/hitting matchup and then MAYBE another part of the team will be involved in the play if the ball is put in play.

        Falcons rise from 2007-2008 is more then just “they added matt ryan”. I probably can’t even name them all but here’s a start: New head coach, michael turner was added as running back, a easier schedule playing NFC north and afc west + the lions and eagles instead of afc south and nfc west + the vikings and giants, improved defense, and progression of roddy white. if i was to break it down even more i’m sure theres better luck from injuries and other draft and free agent improvements. Anyway basically the simple answer to a complex question is usually wrong

  4. paperlions - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    As others have pointed out, the parity argument misses the important point of comparison. In football, teams that make the smartest decisions are those that are regularly good (e.g. Indy, NE, Pitt, Baltimore, Philly). Teams that are chronic bad decision makers stay bad (e.g. Cleveland, SF after DeBartelo, Detroit).
    In football, there is no fan base that has abandoned its franchise, even Raider fans remain hopeful because they know smart decisions can turn their team around. In baseball, there are many franchises whose fans have given up, in part because even if their team develops star players they can’t afford to keep more than one or two of them. In baseball, rich teams (not smart teams) can compete every year and smart teams that are not rich have to work for years for a one or two year window before their players all leave via FA or are traded because they are going to leave.

  5. jnvh - Jan 12, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Craig, while I agree that baseball has more parity than the general populace like to admit, I think you missed the point here.

    Looking at just the number of teams to make the playoffs is a very narrow way to analyze parity. What about regular season record over the last few years? What about post season winning percentage over the last few years? What about looking at stats like total offense/total defense in football and comparable stats in baseball (runs scored and runs allowed?)? Looking at the trends for these stats would give a better picture of parity.

    Now admittedly making the playoffs in both sports is the big goal, as anything can happen in the playoffs (Seahawks over Saints? Giants as W.S. Champs?), But….

    When people say “there is no parity in baseball” what they really mean is “The Yankees and Red Sox and teams like them win lots more games than my team because they can pay for the things that allow them to do so over a number of years and decades, and this makes me sad.” The playoffs are just a perceived symptom of the perceived lack of parity, not an actual fact.

    The fact is that while lots of baseball teams have made the postseason over the last 5 years, the large market teams are in the hunt for the postseason every year, while most other teams need a flash-in-the-pan type season or set of seasons. Pertinent example: The Yankees have legitimately competed for or reached the postseason every season since 1996 (the last 15 seasons). The Padres have made the postseason 4 times in that same time period, which isn’t bad, but in the seasons they didn’t make the postseason they were a pretty bad team.

    Larger market teams seem to measure their successful runs in decades, while smaller market teams do so in years. Only when the most savvy front-offices in baseball get together (i.e. Twins, early 00s A’s, etc) can small market teams compete for a longer time frame.

    Football is a similar thing. While any team can put it together on the field and have a good run for a year or two (2010 Chiefs, the recent AZ Cardinals team that made the Super Bowl, for example) it still takes a very savvy front office to put together longer strings of winning.

    I am surprised someone like you, that is quite savvy around advanced metrics and the dangers of small sample sizes, would overlook those types of things to make your argument.

  6. ingloriousmaster - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    MLB will never be on par with the NFL until there is a salary cap and they shorten the season. I used to be a diehard baseball fan (hell I have a Boston “B” tattoo on my arm, but the fact that the same teams season after season make it to the playoffs gets old and I have lost interest…I think the attendance figures from last year echo my sentiments.

    • florida76 - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      The TV ratings are such a revealing indicator when talking about the lagging popularity of baseball and the world series is a perfect example. The 1991 Series between Minnesota-Atlanta routed the 2009 Series between New York-Philadelphia. You simply can’t explain the massive decrease in ratings by talking about excuses like the internet, etc.

      The NFL is king because their super bowl has great TV ratings no matter who is playing, while the San Fran-Texas Series slipped in the ratings. If MLB is interested in closing the gap with the NFL, a better method must be installed for increasing the popularity of the game. Along with economic relief, perhaps an international draft.

  7. Glenn - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    In baseball, the big market teams who are smart are always in the hunt and the rest take turns making the play-offs before losing players to the big market teams. Then they reload, knowing that they will again have only a small window of opportunity. Equal percent of teams making the play-offs does not necessarily indicate parity in both football and baseball. The issue goes beyond that. Tell the kids in San Diego or Tampa Bay who watch their franchise players leave for more money that all is good in baseball. Thank goodness my team can keep its stars and pay for others from other teams as well. In football the amount of money is not the issue, but the intelligent use of it.

  8. Jonny 5 - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Why compare these two totally different sports anyway? Why not compare it to soccer? seriously though.. it’s tiring, and you all are falling into the trap of racking your brains trying to figure out which has a better playoff system. Really? They’re different, always will be, and that doesn’t mean “better” by any means. I like football, I like Hockey, I love baseball. I find no reason to try to compare the playoff systems of any, although hockey is probably the most inclusive. I enjoy them all, and i’m curious as to why we find the need to rack our brains over this.

    Rack your brains over college football, that’s the single most unfair system devised. Undefeated teams sitting home watching bowl games. Really? ooookay…

    One point I will make which will make the pro baseball camp smile a bit. Seattle Seahawks 2010-11 season. And where are they? 😉

    • BC - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      39 days until the Daytona 500. I’m just sayin’….

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:57 PM

        I just can’t do it. After 10 laps I’m bored to death. Although I have gone with my pops to the Monster a few times and live is wayyyyy better imo. That place will blow your ears out if you don’t protect them. You get a whole new perspective for how fast they really are live. First lap first turn, I thought they were all going to crash, which they didn’t, I never thought that from watching through the boob tube.

  9. juggernautjay - Jan 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Ahhhh….the beauty of statistics. By tweaking the parameters a bit (i.e. the amount of years), I’m sure the NFL’ers could make a positive argument in support of their case.

    Plenty of times I’ve used stats to make an argument to support my cause even though I knew changing things a tad would benefit the other side of the argument.

  10. elmaquino - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Does anyone read these page-long comments? If someone is a football fan, you probably won’t cure their tragic misconception!

  11. nanner12wojo - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    the guy who wrote this is a complete idiot.

    • motherscratcher23 - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      I know you are but what is Craig?

  12. nanner12wojo - Jan 12, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    ask a Bluejays or Orioles fan to read this.

    what a joke.

    this guy is a baseball homer.

    • ngearhart1981 - Jan 12, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      The Blue Jays have won as many World Series as the Red Sox have in the past 90 years.

  13. fquaye149 - Jan 12, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    I love all the people in this thread yelling at the top of their lungs that football is still “more fair” because anyone can make the playoffs. In every single baseball division this year there is only one team that we know for certain won’t make the playoffs, except for the AL E and, NL Central, and Al Central in which there are three. The Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, and Giants could all make the playoffs this year in the NL West. The A’s, Rangers, or Angels could all make the playoffs this year. The Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals could all make the playoffs this year. The White Sox, Twins, and Tigers could all make the playoffs this year. The Braves, Phillies,Mets and Marlins could all make the playoffs this year. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays could all make the playoffs this year.

    That is 20 out of 32 teams for 8 sports. You’re telling me the NFL next year is somehow substantially more wide open when you consider that there are 4 more playoff spots available? GMAB.

    • spudchukar - Jan 12, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      Exactly what scenerio puts the Mets in the play-offs?

      • fquaye149 - Jan 12, 2011 at 7:19 PM

        If they win 90 games.

      • Adam - Jan 12, 2011 at 8:12 PM

        If the Phillies, Nats, Braves and Marlins get contracted I’m pretty sure the Mets could hold on to win the division title. Then again, there’s no guarantee, they’ve blown worse.

    • fquaye149 - Jan 12, 2011 at 9:40 PM

      I doubt the Mets will win the division or even make the wild card. But their Pythagorean was 81-81 last year. To say they have absolutely no shot to win 90 games is about as extreme as saying the Miami Dolphins couldn’t possibly be a wild card team next year.

  14. superpriebe - Jan 12, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    I generally agree with you: parity in MLB is excellent. However, I think you really should concede that parity in the AL East needs to be addressed. Consider the playoff appearances by AL East teams since realignment, with AL East Championships in brackets (total: 16 seasons)….

    15 (11) Yankees
    9 (2) Red Sox
    2 (2) Rays
    2 (1) Orioles
    0 (0) Jays

    This is the heart of the matter when it comes to arguing parity in baseball, and I don’t think it behooves of intelligent commentators like yourself to ignore this simply because parity is excellent everywhere else.

    • fquaye149 - Jan 13, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      It’s true that parity in the AL East is pretty broken, but I’d be interested in seeing the division winners breakdown of the AFC East over the past 10 years.

      • superpriebe - Jan 13, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        Honestly, I don’t care about football and don’t care how baseball stacks up when it comes to this issue. I only care that the powers that be realize that parity in the AL East is broken, and that the strong parity across the rest of MLB doesn’t change the fact that it’s broken badly in the AL East.

        However, since you asked, I looked up the numbers in the AFC East. Same as before, playoff appearances with division championships bracketed.

        Buffalo 4 (1)
        **Indianapolis 4(1)
        Miami 7 (2)
        New England 11 (10)
        New York Jets 7 (2)

        ** Colts left division after 2001 season.

        Even though I said I didn’t care, some analysis. Although this is still skewed towards Boston/NY, it’s not nearly as dramatic as it is in baseball. Also, if realignment didn’t remove the Colts from the equation, we could add another nine (!) playoff appearances to their ledger, which would essentially end the argument that you need a big city to run off success in the NFL. Painting the AFC/AL East comparison only hammers home the football argument that folks like Craig are trying to discount with this post….

        …and this is why I think it is important for intelligent commentators to speak out on this issue. They sully their reputation as insightful analysts by refusing to acknowledge the real issue here, and we’ve seen in a number of ways that the general public and the powers that be in baseball will listen to intelligent arguments and respond accordingly.

  15. reffud13 - Jan 13, 2011 at 4:09 AM

    Craig, you are very confused my friend. However, as misguided as your thoughts are I will do my best to fix you.

    The playoff numbers you cite are very interesting, and everyone has their theory why they are what they are, but achieving parity should not be the only factor in determining the value of a salary cap. I’m sure the system in the NFL has its flaws, but what we can all say without a doubt is that the MLB system is not even close to fair. It’s a simple and straightforward numbers game that’s not even debatably. Most teams may have a chance to win, but few teams have a shot at landing top free agents. That’s the problem.

    Don’t you think Pittsburgh fans would have loved to see Lee pitching for the Pirates in 2011? There’s a lot more to landing a free agent than money of course, but they can’t even start a conversation. They certainly can’t afford to throw out the same payroll as the big market clubs. Here’s another certainty. I guarantee you wouldn’t see Manning playing football in Indiana right now if it weren’t for a cap. He’d probably have a star on his helmet.

    Glad I could help.

    • fquaye149 - Jan 13, 2011 at 8:52 AM

      a.) Even in a capped league, Lee would never sign for the Pirates. The Lions, for instance, are going to have a hard time signing Free Agents. Ditto the Packers–even though they’re good. Now, that’s still closer to equal than baseball, but the question is, is giving every team “sort of the chance” to sign free agents worth:

      b.) Restricting free agency, thereby increasing the owner’s take and reducing the amount of money players can make. Which leads to

      c.) Hold-outs, which never ever ever happen in baseball, because you know that even if a player doesn’t want to be on the team he signed with anymore that he has no one to blame but himself. Especially when you consider that

      d.) Supposedly unfair free agency practices in the MLB don’t actually lead to reduced parity

      So in short, the numbers do have a lot to do with why the MLB is fair. Every free agency system in every major sport is unfair in some respect–to the players, to the teams, to different markets, etc. But it seems to me baseball’s is the least intolerable insofar as it lets supply and demand rule rather than make the owners richer and lead to bad feelings between players and owners.

  16. reffud13 - Jan 13, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    a.) Even in a capped league, Lee would never sign for the Pirates. The Lions, for instance, are going to have a hard time signing Free Agents. Ditto the Packers–even though they’re good. Now, that’s still closer to equal than baseball, but the question is, is giving every team “sort of the chance” to sign free agents worth: Yes

    b.) Restricting free agency, thereby increasing the owner’s take and reducing the amount of money players can make. Which leads to I don’t care how many millions either make. I don’t care if it’s 5-10 million or 20-25 million. Both make me sick. I’m a Red Sox fan. I’m happy, but if I was a Rays fan I’d be upset I didn’t even have a chance at keeping Crawford.

    c.) Hold-outs, which never ever ever happen in baseball, because you know that even if a player doesn’t want to be on the team he signed with anymore that he has no one to blame but himself. Especially when you consider that I think hold-outs have a lot to do with not having guaranteed contracts. Even if they don’t, again, I don’t care at all about hold outs. They’ll all play eventually. As a fan, I just want my team to be able to compete for free agents on a level playing field.

    d.) Supposedly unfair free agency practices in the MLB don’t actually lead to reduced parity

    So in short, the numbers do have a lot to do with why the MLB is fair. Every free agency system in every major sport is unfair in some respect–to the players, to the teams, to different markets, etc. But it seems to me baseball’s is the least intolerable insofar as it lets supply and demand rule rather than make the owners richer and lead to bad feelings between players and owners. A cap isn’t a complete answer for parity, and no system is perfect. I don’t disagree with any of that. As I said above, I don’t care about bad feelings because players and owners are fighting over millions. As a fan I just want to know that want my team has an equal shot financially at getting players and competing. The MLB system doesn’t allow that.

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