I mentioned here that I’m already hearing comments about the Yankees “buying” (or, at least, trying to “buy”) a World Series title. And if you look at it objectively, just from the point of view of total payroll and revenues, then you should be able to understand why some people feel that way. Of course, understanding is not the same thing as agreeing. The reality is that it takes more than just money to win the World Series. Yes, a high payroll team like the Yankees can afford to sign the Sabathias and the Teixeiras. But that doesn’t mean that those expensive players will be the right pieces to the puzzle. Randy Johnson had a much lower postseason ERA when he signed with the Yankees than CC Sabathia did when he came to New York, but so far this postseason, CC has performed far better than the Big Unit did in his postseason starts in pinstripes. An expensive puzzle is just junk if the pieces don’t fit together, but
an inexpensive puzzle can be a work of art when all of the pieces fit
I’ve been thinking about this a bit more, and I’ve done a bit of research. Take a look at the World Series winners since the Yankees last won, and their total payrolls for those years*:
2001 Diamondbacks – 8th highest payroll
2002 Angels – 15th highest payroll
2003 Marlins – 6th lowest payroll (only the Indians, Padres, Brewers, Royals, and Rays had a lower payroll)**
2005 White Sox – 13th highest payroll
2006 Cardinals – 11th highest payroll
2008 Phillies – 12th highest payroll
Look at that list…only one of those teams was in the top ten for highest payrolls in the year that they won the World Series. By contrast, the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox had the 2nd highest payrolls behind the Yankees.
The Yankees have had MLB’s highest payroll every season except one since their mid-90’s “dynasty” began in 1996. The only season they didn’t have the highest payroll was, ironically, in 1998 when they had one of their best seasons ever. (The Baltimore Orioles had MLB’s highest payroll in 1998…and finished 4th in the AL East, 35 games out of first place.)
What does this prove? Money (i.e., one of the top payrolls in MLB) can help a team to sign the players it may need to be successful, but it doesn’t necessarily help to “buy” a World Series title. Winning takes more than money…that’s a fact that the Yankees have certainly proven for the last 8 years. It takes:
- good players (some of whom do make the most money, and some of whom do not)
- team chemistry (some people roll their eyes at that…I think those people are fools)
- and often, a little bit of luck
By the way, it should be noted that the 1997 Florida Marlins — whom many people (including me) have used as an example of a team that “bought” its World Series title — had the 7th highest total payroll in 1997. The Marlins did bring in a lot of players from outside the organization (free agency, trades, whatever) for the sole purpose of winning a World Series, and then gutted the team over the next two seasons because they could no longer afford to keep their best players. But even they did not have the highest payroll in baseball that season…nor were they even ranked in the top 5 as far as total team payrolls were concerned in 1997.
Does having lots of revenue and a high payroll help a team to be successful? It can. Does it guarantee that a team will win this:
Nope. There are no guarantees. Even a commanding lead in a LCS doesn’t guarantee that a team will get to the World Series, much less win it. Just ask the 2004 Yankees.
* Source: USA Today Baseball Salaries Database
** Note: one other source — baseballchronolgy.com — ranked the 2003 Marlins as having the 5th lowest payroll; the Indians were ranked higher.
I apologize to my readers — all 4 of you! — for being AWOL for more than a week. My roommate had surgery last Monday, so I’ve been visiting her most evenings. Between being busy at work and the stress of the hospital visits (hospitals creep me out), I just haven’t had the energy to post anything here.
To catch up a bit, since my last post, the Yankees have 5 wins and 3 losses. Some notable games:
The June 1st game vs. the Indians featured another attack of the midges, but the bugs didn’t bug starter Joba Chamberlain too much this time. The Yankees set a new MLB record of 18 error-free games, breaking the record that the Red Sox set in 2006, and they beat the Indians 5-2.
In the June 2nd game vs. the Rangers, there was an exceptional amount of testosterone flying through the air, after Mark Texeira was hit by pitches from Vicente Padilla in the 2nd and 4th innings. Tex then slid into Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus at 2nd base in the 4th. Inspired by Tex’s display of manliness, the Yankees scored 7 runs in that inning. A.J. Burnett sent a message of his own in the 5th inning, throwing a pitch over the head of Nelson Cruz. That display of testosterone drew a warning from the home plate umpire to both dugouts. It also drew a fine, as well as a 6 game suspension two days later. (Padilla was also fined.) Burnett’s appeal of the fine will allow him to play until a hearing takes place.
Tex’s comments about being hit by those pitches:
“There’s really no reason for it in baseball. You know, if you can’t get a guy out, don’t hit him. You know, if you don’t want to pitch to a guy, then, you know, put four fingers out there and walk him,” Teixeira said.
I agree, Tex. As I mentioned here, I think the pitcher and hitter should just drop their pants, let everyone see who is bigger, and then tuck it back in and get on with the game.
Unfortunately, the Yankees errorless innings streak ended in this game. Oh well, at least they set a new record and won the game, 12-3.
The June 4th game vs. the Rangers featured Chien-Ming Wang’s return to the starting rotation. Unfortunately, he was not particularly effective, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, including a home run, in 4.2 innings. But the Yankees rallied in the 8th inning, overcoming a 5-1 deficit to win the game, 8-6.
In the June 5th game vs. the Rays, Mariano Rivera blew his first save of the season and got his second loss, when Joe Dillon broke a 5-5 tie with a single in the 9th inning. The Rays scored 4 runs (3 earned) off Rivera in the 9th for the win.
I watched the Yankees beat the Rays tonight (Monday), 5-3. Andy Pettitte got the win, Mariano Rivera got the save; it was the 59th time the two have combined for a win and a save. Pettitte and Rivera are the all-time MLB winner-closer combo leaders, with two more wins/saves than Oakland’s Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley.
Since my last blog post here, the Nationals have 5 losses and 2 wins. It’s really quite astonishing that they have those two wins in 7 games! Some notable games:
On June 2nd, the Nationals had a surprising 10-6 win against the Giants and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. The Giants were leading 5-2 when the rally began with the Nats scoring 2 runs at the bottom of the 6th. The Nats offense exploded for 6 runs in the 8th inning. Joel
Suckrahan Hanrahan gave up a run in the 9th inning, but managed to finish the inning and the game without any further damage. Prior to that win, the Nationals had lost 6 straight games.
On June 3rd, the Giants’ Randy Johnson was supposed to be going for his 300th career win, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. The start of the game was delayed for over 3-1/2 hours as MLB hoped the game could be played and history could be made. Now, I understand the historical significance of the game, with Stretch trying for career win #300. But come on… a 3-1/2 hour delay?! That’s ridiculous!! At 10:46, the game was finally postponed and rescheduled for the following evening.
Stretch did get his 300th win on the 4th, in the first game of a doubleheader, as the Giants beat the Nats 5-1. Ironically, the start of this game was also delayed by about an hour because of rain. Too bad so few people actually saw this historic game; attendance was so low that the attendance stats weren’t even listed in the box score. Perhaps the 16,787 attendance figure for the second game was actually a combination of attendance for both games? Anyway, some of the Nationals commentators, members of the media, and Nats fans have fussed about a called strike against Adam Dunn on a 3-2 count to end the 8th inning, which preserved the Giants 2-1 lead with the bases loaded. The call was a bad one — it was definitely NOT a strike — but hey, those are the breaks. Lots of bad calls have been made against the Nationals this season…and against the 29 other MLB teams as well. Bad calls happen. I saw comments on one particular Nats message board which hinted that the umpire had intentionally called a strike to prevent a run from being walked in to tie the game…that, of course, would have given Stretch a no-decision. OK, so in a split second, when the pitch is thrown and caught, the umpire was thinking, “If I call this a ball, then a run will score, and that means that Randy Johnson will end up with a no-decision instead of getting his 300th win tonight, so I should call this a strike even though the pitch was a ball….” Riiiiiiiiight. [SARCASM] I’m sure that’s exactly what that umpire was thinking at that moment. [/SARCASM] This, of course, was the second time the Nationals were involved in a history-making game. In August of 2007, former Nats pitcher Mike Bacsik gave up Baroids Bonds’ 756th career home run.
After the Nats 3-1 loss to the Mets on June 5th, Joel Hanrahan went back to being Joel Suckrahan as far as I’m concerned. With the game tied at 1 in the 10th inning, Suckrahan gave up a single to Luis Castillo, a walk to Carlos Beltrán, and a double to David Wright which scored Castillo and Beltrán. And that was that. The loss caused Suckrahan to lose his job as the closer for the second time this season.
The June 6th game vs. the Mets was another surprising win for the Nationals. John Lannan pitched the first complete game of his career, allowing just 1 run and 4 hits in a 7-1 win. He even hit a single in the 5th inning and scored a run on Nick Johnson’s home run. Adam Dunn and Elijah Dukes also hit home runs in the game, which lasted exactly 2 hours.
The Nationals reverted back to their usual form on the 7th, losing to the Mets 7-0. Just more of the same suckitude.
At least the Nationals didn’t lose tonight…they didn’t play tonight…….
Loss number 20, that is…which is what the Nationals apparently will get tonight. It’s the top of the 8th inning, and the Giants are leading the Nats, 10-4. Randy Johnson — who I swear must be about 60 years old (Jamie Moyer looks young compared to Stretch) — gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings, including 3 home runs and 9 strikeouts. When the starting pitcher allows 4 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs, you would think the team that got those runs would win. But then, we’re talking about the Nationals here…Daniel Cabrera started the game for the Nats, which is why the Giants are kicking the Nats hindquarters. Cabrera issued 6 walks in just over 4 innings. Six walks! Why the #$&% does Cabrera still have job??
On a much better note, the Capitals beat the Penguins tonight, 5-4 in overtime, to force a game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals!GO CAPS!!!