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Article: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

  1. Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    17 Comments by pepperlandgirl Published on 01 Aug 2009 01:23 AM
    Normally I like to have some sort of comment or question for each article, but I don't know anything about baseball. I grasp that a bat is used to hit the ball, but everything beyond that? Pure jibberish to me. But it does make me wonder--are players' salaries quite a big deal in baseball? I don't think there's ever much comment on it in football. Generally when a player gets a huge contract, it's somebody like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, and nobody says a word because everybody pretty much acknowledges that they're Gods Among Men. I'm assuming that's a different situation in baseball?

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  3. #2
    Oliphaunt dread pirate jimbo's avatar
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Salaries stopped being a major issue in most pro sports when they adopted a salary cap to control team spending. The result in most leagues where this has happened has been unparalleled levels of parity from team-to-team, since no team can dominate the others through simple economic measures -- everyone is on a level playing field as far as the ability to acquire and keep players with the biggest factor in a team's success or failure becoming management, from the scouts' ability to evaluate talent to the GM putting the right pieces together and finding a way to keep them together. As a result, there isn't much controversy over the wages a top athlete in the NFL, like Brady or one of the Manning brothers can command -- if a team chooses to roll a truckload of money up to the door of one of these guys, they will have to make room for that salary by releasing someone else. Take, for example, the LA Lakers when they made the blockbuster deal to acquire Shaquille O'Neal: In order to pay for a premium talent like O'Neal, the Lakers had to do a major reshuffle of their roster and the net result was a team that struggled until they were able to find the right -- and cheaper -- supporting cast to build around Shaq. It took four years before this tinkering finally paid off and the Lakers starting running off championship after championship with Shaq and a young kid named Kobe.

    Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap. Teams with a lot of money are able to purchase the best free agents and re-sign their top players when their contracts are up. Small market teams are forced to exist in a constant state of rebuilding, allowing their best players to disappear season after season on the free agent market, or trading them for a handful of young, inexpensive prospects in the hopes that they'll develop into stars before their contracts expire. If a small market team's management is anything less than exemplary, they fail. In a few notable cases, small market teams like the A's and Twins and Marlins have found ways to win without the big bucks, but only the Marlins have managed to win a World Series out of that group in the last decade. More typical are the examples of the Pirates, Royals, and Padres, who consistently languish near the bottom of the standings without the financial or managerial resources to stay competitive, effectively serving as a developmental system for teams with more money. Meanwhile, teams with all the money in the world continue to fill holes in their rosters by purchasing top dollar talent year after year and, by doing so, continue to drive player salaries up and out of the reach of small market teams, year after year -- if it comes down to a bidding war for a player and the teams chasing the guy are a poor team and a rich one, guess who inevitably offers the most? Subsequently teams like the Yankees remain at the top of the standings season in and season out because they can cherry pick the best players and there's not a damn thing anyone else can do to stop them, except bankrupt themselves trying to keep up. The net result has been the Yankees getting to the World Series six times in the last 12 years, winning four times, and the Red Sox winning the Series twice in the last five years by following the Yankees' model.

    And this isn't news, either. Since the Yankees bought Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1919 for $125,000, they have systematically run roughshod over the Major Leagues by dominating baseball financially. And inexplicably, baseball has allowed them to do it, to the detriment of at least a third of their teams, arguably more. So yes, salaries are a bigger deal in baseball than they are in other sports because some teams have forced salaries up out of the reach of most of the league -- when a top flight player signs a giant contract, it is almost always with one of four or five teams, with the fucking Yankees right at the top of that list. And that is the different situation in baseball, in a nutshell.
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    Porno Dealing Monster pepperlandgirl's avatar
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Wow, Jimbo, I had no idea that was the situation (obviously). I think that's basically another reason for me to avoid baseball. It may be because I'm used to the parity of the NFL, but good God, what is the fun of a sport where there will always be a handful of teams who simply do not have the means to compete at the top levels? Not that there aren't sucktastic teams in football--but with teams like the Lions, you're dealing with incompetant management and rot that goes up to the top. That's their own doing and their own problem to fix--how would a baseball team like, say, the Padres even begin to improve their situation?
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    The reality for small market teams in baseball is that they have to do an outstanding job of scouting and player development in their minor league system, constantly restocking it with good prospects either from the draft or from trades where they offload high-priced talent for kids who have a good shot at developing into something special. Teams like the Athletics have managed to remain competitive by focusing much of their scouting on the college ranks, where they can get athletes who are a little more mature and polished than the kids coming out of high school -- the college kids are more likely to be ready for the Bigs more quickly and have kept the A's in the middle of the pack or shooting at a playoff spot for quite a few years. Other small market teams have had less success, partly or largely due to mediocre or bad management; the Royals have been a terrible team for a long time now and the Pirates haven't been any good since they let pre-steroid Barry Bonds go to the Giants. Mid-market teams are more able to compete and frequently make playoff runs, but of course, they are in much the same boat as the small market teams when it comes to re-signing free agents -- if one of the big money teams decides they want a guy, they can and will out-bid anyone, even if it means paying far more for a player than he's actually worth, which drives salaries up and puts that much more pressure on the poorer teams when it comes time to renegotiate wages.

    The only answer is for MLB to adopt a salary cap, just like everyone else has, but basbeall seems loathe to go there. If, as I have suggested in the past, they set a cap at $100 million, 8 teams out of 30 would have to free up players to get down to that level, with the fucking Yankees faced with cutting their payroll by half. Those freed-up players would be scooped by the remaining teams and instantly there would be more parity in the league. A few of the smaller teams with tiny payrolls might still struggle as they run out squads at half the cap value, but they'll still be in a better competitive position than they are in right now. Wheteher this might ever happen or not is a whole other discussion, however.
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    my god, he's full of stars... OneCentStamp's avatar
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Great rant, jimbo. The ridiculous lack of parity is the main reason that, while I am always down for enjoying a major league baseball game, it's difficult for me to care enough to follow a major league season. In fact, of the friends I have who do follow MLB closely anymore, all are currently playing in fantasy leagues for money.
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by dread pirate jimbo
    The reality for small market teams in baseball is that they have to do an outstanding job of scouting and player development in their minor league system, constantly restocking it with good prospects either from the draft or from trades where they offload high-priced talent for kids who have a good shot at developing into something special. Teams like the Athletics have managed to remain competitive by focusing much of their scouting on the college ranks, where they can get athletes who are a little more mature and polished than the kids coming out of high school -- the college kids are more likely to be ready for the Bigs more quickly and have kept the A's in the middle of the pack or shooting at a playoff spot for quite a few years. Other small market teams have had less success, partly or largely due to mediocre or bad management; the Royals have been a terrible team for a long time now and the Pirates haven't been any good since they let pre-steroid Barry Bonds go to the Giants. Mid-market teams are more able to compete and frequently make playoff runs, but of course, they are in much the same boat as the small market teams when it comes to re-signing free agents -- if one of the big money teams decides they want a guy, they can and will out-bid anyone, even if it means paying far more for a player than he's actually worth, which drives salaries up and puts that much more pressure on the poorer teams when it comes time to renegotiate wages.
    Whoa, what? Is it common for MLB to recruit players right out of high school?
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by pepperlandgirl
    Whoa, what? Is it common for MLB to recruit players right out of high school?
    Yes, all the time, but it's extremely rare that they go directly from high school to playing for a MLB team. What normally happens is that a high school star is drafted by, say, the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers put him in one of their A-league farm teams, the Pocatello Mud Slugs. After a season or so there, he's promoted to AA Duluth, then AAA Little Rock, where he plays against better and better competition while hopefully getting better himself. He eventually makes it to the Brewers as a 22 or 23 year old "rookie" who has already been playing for the organization for 5 years. He plays for the Brewers for four glorious seasons, and is then swept up by the Yankees or Red Sox for more money than the Brewers spend on any three players.
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    Porno Dealing Monster pepperlandgirl's avatar
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    That makes sense. I actually never understood how the minor league teams worked before.
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by OneCentStamp
    Quote Originally posted by pepperlandgirl
    Whoa, what? Is it common for MLB to recruit players right out of high school?
    Yes, all the time, but it's extremely rare that they go directly from high school to playing for a MLB team. What normally happens is that a high school star is drafted by, say, the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers put him in one of their A-league farm teams, the Pocatello Mud Slugs. After a season or so there, he's promoted to AA Duluth, then AAA Little Rock, where he plays against better and better competition while hopefully getting better himself. He eventually makes it to the Brewers as a 22 or 23 year old "rookie" who has already been playing for the organization for 5 years. He plays for the Brewers for four glorious seasons, and is then swept up by the Yankees or Red Sox for more money than the Brewers spend on any three players.
    Exactly so. When I was a kid and really began to take an interest in baseball, Calgary had a A level affiliate in the Cardinals minor league system. At that lowest level, the players are only 19 or 20 years old and only a few have the goods to go all the way -- from that Calgary Cardinals squad, only Jim Gott got to the Majors and stuck. Shortly thereafter, we replaced that A franchise with a AAA franchise, the Calgary Cannons, which was the Seattle Mariners' AAA affiliate for quite a number of years before switching to the Pirates and then folding. During those years I saw future stars such as Omar Vizquel, Edgar Martinez, Harold Reynolds, Danny Tartabull, Tino Martinez and Alex Rodriguez come through the system before moving on to the Show. Also, I got to see other big names playing for other teams -- Wally Joyner, Mark McGuire, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Walt Weiss, Devon White, etc. It was during that time that I began to more follow individual players and less particular teams, which is why my team allegiances seem to float around a bit.

    I wish we had a minor league team again (sigh).
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by OneCentStamp
    Great rant, jimbo. The ridiculous lack of parity is the main reason that, while I am always down for enjoying a major league baseball game, it's difficult for me to care enough to follow a major league season. In fact, of the friends I have who do follow MLB closely anymore, all are currently playing in fantasy leagues for money.
    Lack of a parity as compared to what? By almost any definition, despite having a much longer season to weed out the weak from the top, baseball has more parity than football and basketball. Maybe hockey too, I don't really pay much attention to it. It has more different champions, more different championship runner-ups, and more different playoff teams. Small markets can and do compete consistently, the fact that a couple have been poorly run doesn't change that.

    Baseball players will never agree to a salary cap, because salary caps more than anything transfer money from players to owners, and the baseball union is by far the strongest of an an sport. Eli Manning just signed a contract for 35 million guaranteed. Without a salary cap that number is at least triple.

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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by hawkeyeop
    Lack of a parity as compared to what? By almost any definition, despite having a much longer season to weed out the weak from the top, baseball has more parity than football and basketball. Maybe hockey too, I don't really pay much attention to it. It has more different champions, more different championship runner-ups, and more different playoff teams. Small markets can and do compete consistently, the fact that a couple have been poorly run doesn't change that.
    I don't think any major North American team sport has anything to match the Yankees winning 24 of the last 50 AL pennants. Maybe the Canadiens in hockey, but that dominance has trailed off in the past 20 years while the Yankees appear to be going strong (though it has been 8 seasons and counting since they won the World Series).

    When the team laying out this streak of extended domination also happens to be the one with the fattest purse every season, it gives the impression of a lack of parity. Yes, an Arizona or Florida can bubble up every once in a while and have a miracle season, but it's just that; a brief diversion and then back to the usual suspects.
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Without spending a bunch of time crunching numbers and researching everyone's payrolls, here's a few quick numbers that I have observed: Since the start of the Wild Card era in 1995, there have been 14 World Series. The two biggest payroll teams in baseball during that period, the Yankees and Red Sox, have played in 8 of those series combined and won 6 of them. Big money teams the Mets and Angels have also been to the finals. On the other side of the ledger, the only legitimately small market team to win the World Series in that period has been the Florida Marlins, who have pulled off that feat twice, both with completely different rosters due to having to trade all their high priced talent and rebuild from scratch. Tampa Bay made the finals last season (but are unlikely to get there again this year, short of an epic collapse by... wait for it... either the Yankees or Red Sox) and Colorado got there in 2007. Beyond that, the teams that have made the World Series have been a fairly wide distribution of mid-market teams (although I think the Braves and their three WS appearances in that period might be in that top dollar area, which would only add more credence to my point of view). In all, the Yankees and Red Sox all by themselves have been to the Big Dance more than half of the time and big market teams have been represented twice as often as small market teams. Obviously lightning can be caught in a bottle every now and then, but the default for baseball is for the teams with the money to win and the teams without to lose. Small market teams do not compete consistently and the fact that a couple have been managed exceptionally well for a season or two doesn't change that.
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Since 1995 baseball has had 9 different champions and 17 different world series participants. The 5 years before that includes another 4 different winners who haven't participated since. Small markets that have made it since 95 include.

    2,945,831 Cleveland Indians
    2,813,833 San Diego Padres
    2,603,607 St Louis Cardinals
    2,581,506 Colorado Rockies
    2,395,997 Tampa Bay Devil Rays

    Whil large ones which haven't include

    16,373,645 Los Angeles Dodgers
    9,157,540 Chicago Cubs
    7,608,070 Baltimore Orioles

    Certainly market size helps, but it is not the determining factor on whether a team succeeds or fail. And the NFL, NBA, and NHL certainly has its fair share of teams that are good every year, or never have a winning season.

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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by hawkeyeop
    Since 1995 baseball has had 9 different champions and 17 different world series participants. The 5 years before that includes another 4 different winners who haven't participated since. Small markets that have made it since 95 include.

    <snip supporting detail>

    Certainly market size helps, but it is not the determining factor on whether a team succeeds or fail. And the NFL, NBA, and NHL certainly has its fair share of teams that are good every year, or never have a winning season.
    This is all very reasonable, when I see it this way, and maybe it's a sign that baseball is balancing out. Maybe my problem is I just keep piling up anecdotes and calling them data, but I see small-market teams like the Green Bay Packers or San Antonio Spurs putting together multi-year streaks of dominance, and think to myself, "this couldn't happen in baseball." It seems anyone in baseball can get to a World Series, but to stay in contention year in and year out takes a level of cash outlay that only the big boys are capable of.
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by hawkeyeop
    Since 1995 baseball has had 9 different champions and 17 different world series participants. The 5 years before that includes another 4 different winners who haven't participated since. Small markets that have made it since 95 include.

    2,945,831 Cleveland Indians
    2,813,833 San Diego Padres
    2,603,607 St Louis Cardinals
    2,581,506 Colorado Rockies
    2,395,997 Tampa Bay Devil Rays

    Whil large ones which haven't include

    16,373,645 Los Angeles Dodgers
    9,157,540 Chicago Cubs
    7,608,070 Baltimore Orioles

    Certainly market size helps, but it is not the determining factor on whether a team succeeds or fail. And the NFL, NBA, and NHL certainly has its fair share of teams that are good every year, or never have a winning season.
    I think part of our difference of opinion may be coming from definition of "Small Market" which you seem to feel is simply a measure of the surrounding population, whereas I look at it as a measure of generated revenue and ability to spend on payroll.

    A few other tidbits:

    Your list of small market teams show some teams with small populations from which to draw fans, however, if we look at where their payrolls fit into the big picture...

    2,945,831 Cleveland Indians 9th highest payroll, 1995; 4th highest 1996
    2,813,833 San Diego Padres 14th 1998
    2,603,607 St Louis Cardinals 9th 2004; 11th 2006
    2,581,506 Colorado Rockies 25th 2007
    2,395,997 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 25th 2008

    ... with the exceptions of the Rays and Rockies, who had extraordinary seasons that neither team has managed before or since, these teams averaged 9th highest in payroll for their respective years, with none in the bottom half. These are, by and large, teams that have spent the dough to get to the finals.

    In the wild card era, the average position in the payroll lists for a team playing in the World Series is 7th (7.0 for winners; 6.9 for losers), which clearly suggests that being in the top ten in salaries puts you in a far better position to get there. Furthermore, fully half of all the champions have been in the top 3 in payroll. Also, during that time, only the aforementioned Rays and Rockies have made it to the World Series from the bottom 10, both teams falling into the #25 slot in their respective years (neither team winning).

    In 1995, the difference in team payroll between the top spending team, the Blue Jays, and the bottom team, the Nationals, was $37.8 million. By 2009, with the Yankees in particular driving wages up, the difference between the Yankees and Marlins is $164.6 million, which is enough money to bankroll the bottom three teams with $35 million left over to buy the execs extra coke and hookers. One of the curiosities of that phenomenon is that the average payrolls in many teams' cases have not skyrocketed -- the Braves, for example, who were in the playoffs for more than a decade consecutively, were in the top 5 for all three of their appearances in the World Series between 1995 and present, with team payrolls ranging from $45 million in 1995 to $75 million in 1999. Today, their payroll is $96.8 million, up slightly in the last decade, but now only good for 11th overall. Not surprisingly, as the wages have shot up and their capacity to pay players has remained relatively stable, their ability to make the playoffs and the World Series has vanished.

    As I have said before, the evidence shows that teams of meager means can have measures of success, when they play their cards just right. The teams with all the money, however, will typically win while the poor teams will typically lose. You can justify the system by pointing to the exceptions, or you can be like me and rail against it by pointing to the actual trends.
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    I think part of our difference of opinion may be coming from definition of "Small Market" which you seem to feel is simply a measure of the surrounding population, whereas I look at it as a measure of generated revenue and ability to spend on payroll.
    Well, small market doesn't small payroll. The Mets could decide to dump all their players next year and have a payroll of $25 million, but that wouldn't make N.Y. a small market.

    A few other tidbits:

    Your list of small market teams show some teams with small populations from which to draw fans, however, if we look at where their payrolls fit into the big picture...

    2,945,831 Cleveland Indians 9th highest payroll, 1995; 4th highest 1996
    2,813,833 San Diego Padres 14th 1998
    2,603,607 St Louis Cardinals 9th 2004; 11th 2006
    2,581,506 Colorado Rockies 25th 2007
    2,395,997 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 25th 2008
    The Cardinals have done a great job of branding their teams They have acquired exciting players, strong management, and have consistently been competitive. They have been able to keep a relatively payroll despite their market not because of it. The Royals across the state have done none of those things. They have done a terrible job drafting, had incompetent people in charge, and have played miserable baseball for over a decade. KC has a much lower payroll than ST Louis in large part of how they have run the organization.

    ... with the exceptions of the Rays and Rockies, who had extraordinary seasons that neither team has managed before or since, these teams averaged 9th highest in payroll for their respective years, with none in the bottom half. These are, by and large, teams that have spent the dough to get to the finals.
    The Rockies won the WC all the way back in 2007 and are competing for it once again this year. The Rays won it last year, and once again have a very strong team this year. After sweeping the Red Sox they are only 3 out of a playoff spot, so saying neither team has done it since is either wrong or at least way premature. The Twins and A's are examples of teams that have consistently been competitive despite small payroll.

    In the wild card era, the average position in the payroll lists for a team playing in the World Series is 7th (7.0 for winners; 6.9 for losers), which clearly suggests that being in the top ten in salaries puts you in a far better position to get there. Furthermore, fully half of all the champions have been in the top 3 in payroll. Also, during that time, only the aforementioned Rays and Rockies have made it to the World Series from the bottom 10, both teams falling into the #25 slot in their respective years (neither team winning).
    Teams that score a lot of runs or have great pitching are represented a lot among champion teams too. To put it simply causation does not equal explanation. Teams that win a lot spend a lot, because winning brings in more revenue and the relative value of a win is more important for good teams rather than bad team. I remember when revenue sharing first started the Phillies received revenue one year because they had one of the league's lowest payrolls. This year they have one of the highest. Did the Philadelphia market grow? No, rather since the Phillies are defending champions they have more revenue to work with. Additionally each addition win gets some a lot of extra money, especially if it is the difference between making the playoffs and sitting home. For the Pirates the difference between 66 wins and 74 is mostly meaningless, so they won't spend the extra money to get better. That doesn't mean they can't. Look at the Rays who once they became competitive starting spending money by signing Pat Burrell. They didn't do that until they became competitive because it would have largely been a waste.

    In 1995, the difference in team payroll between the top spending team, the Blue Jays, and the bottom team, the Nationals, was $37.8 million. By 2009, with the Yankees in particular driving wages up, the difference between the Yankees and Marlins is $164.6 million, which is enough money to bankroll the bottom three teams with $35 million left over to buy the execs extra coke and hookers. One of the curiosities of that phenomenon is that the average payrolls in many teams' cases have not skyrocketed -- the Braves, for example, who were in the playoffs for more than a decade consecutively, were in the top 5 for all three of their appearances in the World Series between 1995 and present, with team payrolls ranging from $45 million in 1995 to $75 million in 1999. Today, their payroll is $96.8 million, up slightly in the last decade, but now only good for 11th overall. Not surprisingly, as the wages have shot up and their capacity to pay players has remained relatively stable, their ability to make the playoffs and the World Series has vanished.
    And yet the Yankees haven't won in a decade. Haven't made it to the World Series since 2003. The Braves stopped winning division titles because Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz got old, it had nothing to do with the economics of baseball.

    As I have said before, the evidence shows that teams of meager means can have measures of success, when they play their cards just right. The teams with all the money, however, will typically win while the poor teams will typically lose. You can justify the system by pointing to the exceptions, or you can be like me and rail against it by pointing to the actual trends.
    My biggest problem with your argument is ignore any incentive for teams to improve there market. A decade ago the Red Sox ownership was claiming they couldn't compete in Fenway, while Baltimore was riding high on a fantastic new stadium. Since then new Red Sox ownership has figured out how to revitalize the park, while Baltimore has withered away their fan base with poor boring teams. You seem to be arguing the Orioles can't compete with the Red Sox because the Red Sox spend so much more money. The Red Sox didn't magically get more money, they earned it, and the O's didn't. Do you not think the Red Sox should be rewarded for that? Sure there are advantages in bigger markets, but lets talk about markets than and not payrolls.

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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    Quote Originally posted by hawkeyeop
    I think part of our difference of opinion may be coming from definition of "Small Market" which you seem to feel is simply a measure of the surrounding population, whereas I look at it as a measure of generated revenue and ability to spend on payroll.
    Well, small market doesn't small payroll. The Mets could decide to dump all their players next year and have a payroll of $25 million, but that wouldn't make N.Y. a small market.

    A few other tidbits:

    [quote:1r8p56pe]Your list of small market teams show some teams with small populations from which to draw fans, however, if we look at where their payrolls fit into the big picture...

    2,945,831 Cleveland Indians 9th highest payroll, 1995; 4th highest 1996
    2,813,833 San Diego Padres 14th 1998
    2,603,607 St Louis Cardinals 9th 2004; 11th 2006
    2,581,506 Colorado Rockies 25th 2007
    2,395,997 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 25th 2008
    The Cardinals have done a great job of branding their teams They have acquired exciting players, strong management, and have consistently been competitive. They have been able to keep a relatively payroll despite their market not because of it. The Royals across the state have done none of those things. They have done a terrible job drafting, had incompetent people in charge, and have played miserable baseball for over a decade. KC has a much lower payroll than ST Louis in large part of how they have run the organization.[/quote:1r8p56pe]
    While I agree (and have demonstrated) that small market does not automatically equate to small payroll, there is a limit to how much a small market team can do to expand their market. Tampa will never have access to New York money and resources by virtue of their market -- even if they were to win three or four World Series in a row, they could never hope to command the ticket prices the Yankees get, nor will their merchandise ever fly off the shelves like anything with a Yankees logo does. That puts them at a severe disadvantage when it comes to obtaining and retaining talent, no matter how you choose to spin it.

    [quote:1r8p56pe]... with the exceptions of the Rays and Rockies, who had extraordinary seasons that neither team has managed before or since, these teams averaged 9th highest in payroll for their respective years, with none in the bottom half. These are, by and large, teams that have spent the dough to get to the finals.
    The Rockies won the WC all the way back in 2007 and are competing for it once again this year. The Rays won it last year, and once again have a very strong team this year. After sweeping the Red Sox they are only 3 out of a playoff spot, so saying neither team has done it since is either wrong or at least way premature. The Twins and A's are examples of teams that have consistently been competitive despite small payroll.[/quote:1r8p56pe]
    The Rays have had exactly one winning season in franchise history -- this year would make it two. While they are in contention for the wild card, they still have to get past Boston and Texas if they want to make the playoffs twice in a row. As for the Rockies, they followed up their World Series appearance by finishing 8 games under .500, 16 games out of the playoffs. They are in the midst of their 6th winning season in 18 tries, so I suppose you might say they've been far more successful than the Rays historically. The Rockies are also in contention for a playoff berth this year, but they are on the outside looking in at this point, just like every other team that lacks the resources of the big money teams -- as I noted in my article, all 6 division leaders right now are in the top 10 in payroll. All six.

    As to the Twins and A's, both franchises I quite like because they get a lot of performance out of very modest means, neither team has been to a World Series since 1991, so I'm not quite sure what your point is, unless you're conceding that I'm right.

    [quote:1r8p56pe]In the wild card era, the average position in the payroll lists for a team playing in the World Series is 7th (7.0 for winners; 6.9 for losers), which clearly suggests that being in the top ten in salaries puts you in a far better position to get there. Furthermore, fully half of all the champions have been in the top 3 in payroll. Also, during that time, only the aforementioned Rays and Rockies have made it to the World Series from the bottom 10, both teams falling into the #25 slot in their respective years (neither team winning).
    Teams that score a lot of runs or have great pitching are represented a lot among champion teams too. To put it simply causation does not equal explanation. Teams that win a lot spend a lot, because winning brings in more revenue and the relative value of a win is more important for good teams rather than bad team. I remember when revenue sharing first started the Phillies received revenue one year because they had one of the league's lowest payrolls. This year they have one of the highest. Did the Philadelphia market grow? No, rather since the Phillies are defending champions they have more revenue to work with. Additionally each addition win gets some a lot of extra money, especially if it is the difference between making the playoffs and sitting home. For the Pirates the difference between 66 wins and 74 is mostly meaningless, so they won't spend the extra money to get better. That doesn't mean they can't. Look at the Rays who once they became competitive starting spending money by signing Pat Burrell. They didn't do that until they became competitive because it would have largely been a waste. [/quote:1r8p56pe]
    Sorry, but that is wrong. The Brewers made the playoffs for the first time in ages last year -- so by your logic they must have spent more money by, say, retaining the services of CC Sabathia, won played a critical role in their 2008 success. Oh, wait, no their team payroll actually dropped by from $80.9 million to $80.2 million and Sabathia moved on to... wait for it... the New York Yankees. While winning does generally result in more money to spend and management more willing to spend, that is also not a cause/effect relationship -- a middle-of-the-pack payroll team may or may not have capacity to spend improved by a good year, but it simply doesn't give them the buying power required to compete with the top spenders when it comes to blue chip talent, nor does it automatically equate to management opening up the purse strings and spending their way to a championship run the way the big dogs can (and do).

    [quote:1r8p56pe]In 1995, the difference in team payroll between the top spending team, the Blue Jays, and the bottom team, the Nationals, was $37.8 million. By 2009, with the Yankees in particular driving wages up, the difference between the Yankees and Marlins is $164.6 million, which is enough money to bankroll the bottom three teams with $35 million left over to buy the execs extra coke and hookers. One of the curiosities of that phenomenon is that the average payrolls in many teams' cases have not skyrocketed -- the Braves, for example, who were in the playoffs for more than a decade consecutively, were in the top 5 for all three of their appearances in the World Series between 1995 and present, with team payrolls ranging from $45 million in 1995 to $75 million in 1999. Today, their payroll is $96.8 million, up slightly in the last decade, but now only good for 11th overall. Not surprisingly, as the wages have shot up and their capacity to pay players has remained relatively stable, their ability to make the playoffs and the World Series has vanished.
    And yet the Yankees haven't won in a decade. Haven't made it to the World Series since 2003. The Braves stopped winning division titles because Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz got old, it had nothing to do with the economics of baseball.[/quote:1r8p56pe]
    Ah, but the Yankees made the playoffs for 13 years in a row before missing last year and are a virtual lock to be there yet again this year. The Braves stopped winning titles not because their staff aged, but because they didn't have the financial capacity to replace the aging vets with younger aces -- when Glavine and Maddux got too old to be effective, they didn't go out and get more Cy Young candidates like CC Sabathia to fill the spot; they got inexpensive projects like Mike Hampton and Jaret Wright. That has everything to do with economics, since they did not have the money to go get the required pieces to the puzzle, in spite of being a team that was in the midst of 14 straight playoff appearances.

    [quote:1r8p56pe]As I have said before, the evidence shows that teams of meager means can have measures of success, when they play their cards just right. The teams with all the money, however, will typically win while the poor teams will typically lose. You can justify the system by pointing to the exceptions, or you can be like me and rail against it by pointing to the actual trends.
    My biggest problem with your argument is ignore any incentive for teams to improve there market. A decade ago the Red Sox ownership was claiming they couldn't compete in Fenway, while Baltimore was riding high on a fantastic new stadium. Since then new Red Sox ownership has figured out how to revitalize the park, while Baltimore has withered away their fan base with poor boring teams. You seem to be arguing the Orioles can't compete with the Red Sox because the Red Sox spend so much more money. The Red Sox didn't magically get more money, they earned it, and the O's didn't. Do you not think the Red Sox should be rewarded for that? Sure there are advantages in bigger markets, but lets talk about markets than and not payrolls.[/quote:1r8p56pe]
    I am hardly ignoring incentive to improve one's market. I am saying, unequivocally, that the system as it currently exists makes it impossible for teams at the bottom of the food chain to compete on a level playing field with the teams at the top. A team of limited means, such as the Twins, can be consistently competitive as a result of spectacular management, and can make the playoffs four times in the last decade, but when push comes to shove, their payroll is not increasing and every time they have a blue chip talent, like Johan Santana or Torii Hunter, they lose them at the end of their contract to a richer franchise, forcing them to rebuild yet again. What I am saying is that the system as it currently exists is unfairly stacked and that the statistics don't lie where that is concerned. Obviously a team's management plays a critical role in the success or failure of a team, not only in terms of delivering a competitive product but also in terms of generating interest and revenue. But in the case of MLB, David is not going to slay Goliath any time soon because Goliath keeps buying up all David's rocks.
    Hell is other people.

  19. #18
    Oliphaunt dread pirate jimbo's avatar
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    Default Re: Jimbo's Sports Rants--now with 42% more rantiness!

    It has been three days since my last post -- I WIN THE THREAD!!!
    Hell is other people.

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