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The 2011 playoff qualifiers represent payrolls of all sizes

Sep 30, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Money Bag

Blogging is basically about reacting to stuff, but sometimes it helps to get ahead of the narrative a bit.  Just to help you prepare, here are the potential state-of-the-game storylines we can expect to see in the coming weeks:

  • If the Yankees face the Phillies in the World Series baseball is broken because the big payroll teams are just buying championships; and
  • If some combination of the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Rays or Rangers make the World Series, the low TV ratings such matchups will create will be proof that baseball is truly dead;

I’m not sure what we do if the Cardinals or Tigers figure in somehow. Maybe something about passionate fans who live in cities outsiders like to denigrate. People eat that crap up.

Anyway, all of this is just an excuse to link Maury Brown’s post from yesterday in which he detailed the payroll situation of the eight playoff teams. Short version: the payroll ranks of the qualifiers: 1 (Yankees); 2 (Philly); 10 (Tigers); 11 (Cards); 13 (Rangers); 17 (Brewers); 25 (Dbacks); 29 (Devil Rays).

So, two rich kids, four middle-of-the-packers and two sisters of the poor.  Viva balance and parity. Just don’t expect anyone to give baseball too much credit for that because it doesn’t fit the usual narratives.

  1. Bill - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    “Devil Rays”… Going old-school today? I support it. Bring back the rainbow logo, I say.

    • skipperxc - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

      I believe the rainbow scheme has been appropriated by the Marlins.

      • jwbiii - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        Have you seen this? The designer of the Marlins logo may be a Maroon 5 fan.

  2. thefrenchyconnection - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Remember when the Ray were supposed to suck after they lost Crawford and that 2010 bullpen?

  3. yankeesfanlen - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    The rich kids own the bat and balls, think that will go a long way.

  4. - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    The Off-Season, where we talk about the business stuff. It’s still more interesting than TPS Reports. (I do in fact have a TPS Report, but only because my boss and I decided to name said report the TPS Report so we could tell our freinds we work on TPS Reports)

  5. Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    This may sound petty and snarky but: It’s balanced because they keep adding more playoff teams every year making the championship more and more of a crapshoot, not because of revenue sharing or any of the other mechanisms currently in place. If this were 1911 instead of 2011 we’d be talking about the Yankees-Phillies World Series right now and people would be complaining about how both teams just went out and bought a pennant.

    I’m not convinced there has been significant balance achieved in baseball yet. I mean basically the Yankees and Red Sox are favorites to make the postseason almost every year (I guess we can add the Phillies for now at least till 2013 or 2014). And the Yankees have made the post-season 14 out of 15 years I believe? (sorry too lazy to look it up).

    Bud Selig can pat himself on the back saying there have been different World Series winners pretty much every year since 2001, but that’s due to the way they set up the post-season, it handicaps the teams which have been more successful and consistent in a long season. Money can at least buy you the talent to get that MOST of the time (Red Sox collapse notwithstanding, but money can’t buy you injury regeneration machines).

    And even taking out the AL East juggernauts baseball is still about cycles: In the AL West, 2001 was the Mariners, throughout 02′ – ’07 it was A’s and Angels, now it seems to be Rangers and Angels. NL East for the longest time it was the Braves, one brief year saw the reign of the Mets and now it’s been Philly for five years.

    There’s still a lot of work to be done to achieve balance.Dang, this post is too long, I should have blogged about it.

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      “It’s balanced because they keep adding more playoff teams every year.”

      Exaggerate much?

      It’s been almost 20 years since any playoff spots were added. Comparing it to a time when there were only 16 teams is disingenuous and even if MLB adds two more wildcard teams, baseball will still have the lowest percentage of its teams making the playoffs, of all major American sports leagues.

      I’m an Indians’ fan, and I’ve spent my fair share of time complaining about the unfairness of baseball’s financial structure. Teams with more money absolutely have a massive advantage in their quest to make the playoffs. However, having two low payroll teams make the playoffs this season isn’t really the exception to the rule or anything. It’s a hell of a lot harder, but it can be done.

      As for complaining about success going in cycles makes no sense at all, how SHOULD success work if everyone has a chance?

      “In the AL West, 2001 was the Mariners, throughout 02′ – ’07 it was A’s and Angels, now it seems to be Rangers and Angels.” So, um, which team in the A.L. West is it that’s getting screwed by the system???

      Baseball ain’t perfect, but trying to use this season to point out what’s wrong with it is way off the mark.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:09 AM

        Re: Cycles.

        I’m stating a fact, I personally like it. But if it’s MLB’s goal to make it more competitive and balanced where at least every team is in the mix through at least half the season, they will have to come up with better mechanisms.

      • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        Fair enough. I don’t think baseball needs to do anything so that every team can be competitive for a big chunk of every season though. I know you’re not saying you think they should, but I also hope that isn’t anyone else’s expectation/standard for the game.

        There was that stretch of time about ten years ago when the Orioles had a top 5 payroll every season but missed the playoffs year after year because they were making such dumb spending decisions. There’s no mechanism to make up for that.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:47 AM

      Is your definition of parity a huge fluctuation in team quality every season? If so, I can’t see a way to solve it unless we dump all the players and re-draft every year.

      Otherwise you’re absolutely going to see the “cycles” you’re talking about, because they represent a team’s control of a number of key players, which puts them in a position to be more talented than their competitors, and a draft system designed to help boost teams who don’t fare as well (both by awarding top picks to weakest teams, and awarding picks to teams who are losing talent).

      What would a “perfect parity” system look like to you, if balance is so far away right now?

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        Is your definition of parity a huge fluctuation in team quality every season?

        I’m trying to guess at what MLB means when it’s seeking parity.

        My bottom line is that saying: “we have low payroll teams in the post-season, baseball is balanced! yay!!!!” is an illusion.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        What would a “perfect parity” system look like to you, if balance is so far away right now?

        There is no such animal, I think the current cycles are ok but might possibly be tweaked. I think the biggest contributing factor to lack of balance right now is the current divisional alignment, the AL East juggernauts and the woeful perennial losers since the Wild Card era began.

        I believe that once all 30 MLB teams can say they have had a legitimate shot at capturing their divisional flag an average of once every 4 years, then we may have a desirable balance. Legitimate means at least within 5 games from the top in the pennant race in September for the particular year you’re looking at.

        I will reiterate that simply pointing to poor teams making the post-season is an illusion.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:06 AM

      Exaggerate much?

      Of course it’s an exaggeration it’s called hyperbole, and my reference is to the fact that next year it will be about 10 teams out of 30 making it to the postseason and we will pat our backs saying baseball is more balanced than this year when we see two more poorer teams make the postseason and Selig will use this fact to say baseball is now more balanced. Apparently you think I was being serious, enough so that you dedicated two paragraphs responding to hyperbole. People are severely handicapped in detecting certain speech patterns. Here let me help you:

      *puts up sign* -> HYPERBOLE

      • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        I understood that it was hyperbole, it’s not as though I thought you were under the impression that there more playoffs teams this year than last year. Thanks for the sign though, it’s cute.

        You were using hyperbole to exaggerate the facts in an effort to make your argument sound more legitimate. The point behind your hyperbole was that baseball has no parity and low payroll teams only ever make the playoffs because there are so many play spots available.

        I disagree with that point. Baseball allows fewer teams in than any major sport, yet almost every season there are low payroll teams that qualify.

    • hittfamily - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      If this was 1911 I don’t think they’d be talking about the Phil or the Yanks. In think they’d be talking about “all the darkies” on the field.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:39 AM

        I was attempting to point out that in the original pennant system of two leagues and no divisions that’s what the end result would have been. I did not intend a social commentary on 1911

  6. florida76 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    Actually, the TV ratings for the World Series have been poor even with big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, check out what the ratings used to be in the early 90s before the gap between rich and poor teams widened considerably. And half of the playoff teams this year had payrolls over 100 million dollars.

    It’s embarrassing and defies logic for any intelligent person to use the word parity and MLB in the same sentence. Who cares about smaller market teams in the playoffs when those clubs usually can’t sustain success, i.e. Rockies, or have been incapable of winning the world title? And while there have been different world champions since 2001, you’ll find most of them had higher payrolls.

    Very disappointing to see this site fall into lockstep with the fallacy of competitive balance in MLB. Sad, because when MLB had more competitive balance it was actually more popular, and the NFL just has been smarter about this issue. Check the incredible TV ratings for the Super Bowl each year, regardless of market size.

    • hittfamily - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      The Rays have sustained success. 4 years in a row over .500. 3 out of 4 years in the playoffs. And I’m betting next years team will be the best they’ve ever had. And I’m betting the year after next, that team will be even better.

    • jimbo1949 - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Does anyone think the cancelled 1994 WS is a major reason for the lower ratings since the early 90s?

      • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:27 PM


  7. thefrenchyconnection - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Would it be fair to say that this is fairly decent mirror of the teams’ avg ages?

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