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.