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Why Baseball’s Money Problem Isn’t Really a Problem

One of the great things about baseball is that it breeds arguments that a lot of times can’t be proven one way or the other.

Was Barry Bonds a Hall of Famer before he (allegedly) began using steroids?

Is the National League’s style of play traditional or archaic? And on and on and on.

In the age of $200 million contracts, the gigantic money gap between teams like the Yankees ($197 million payroll) and Padres ($55 million) is quite the attention getter. The NFL is a bastion of fairness while baseball is living in the past where all it takes is a fat checkbook to win a title.

Except that isn’t really true. At all.

One thing that helps the perception of the NFL and hurts Major League Baseball (for now at least) is the selectiveness of its playoff structure.

38% of all NFL teams (12 of 32) make the playoffs each year while just 27% of all MLB teams (8 of 30) reach the postseason.

In a perfect and fair five-year scenario, every NFL team would make the playoffs 1.8 times. The actual number is 2.1 for the last five seasons.

For baseball, each team should make the playoffs 1.3 times. The actual number? The same as the NFL, 2.1.

But merely reaching the  playoffs and playing for a title are two different things. No one remembers that the Jaguars made the playoffs in 2007 or that the lowly Cleveland Indians were a game away from reaching the World Series that same year.

The last five Super Bowls have had seven different participants and four different winners, the Giants winning two.

Major League baseball has had eight different World Series teams and not one repeat winner the last five seasons.

It would be foolish to think teams with colossal payrolls don’t have inherent advantages in building (and keeping) a roster together, but recent results tell us the money myth is just that. A myth.

1 Comments Say Something
  • I agree absolutely. This is a discussion I have on a regular basis with people who say, “baseball isn’t fair.”

    Sure, some teams can pay for the high dollar players (many times over-paying), but those same teams seem to neglect the player development department and end up paying players guaranteed contracts long past their prime.

    The salary gap between the high and the low is actually one of my favorite things about the game.

    I became a Rays fan many many years ago, why? They always had elite talent on the verge and it was fun to watch as this talent made it to the big show. Now, I can still root for the team, even though they’re good… Nobody can call me a bandwagon jumper… I’ve been in it for the long-haul.

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