As a Red Sox fan, this is a difficult article to write, but I believe that, for the time being, it is in the best interests of Major League Baseball that the New York Yankees win the World Series—this year, next year, and as long as it takes. “As long as it takes for what?” you wonder.
The figures I shall cite are from CBS Sports. As of 2010, the Yankees spend more than $206 million on payroll. The Boston Red Sox, which had the fourth highest payroll in 2009, have added nearly $30 million in 2010 to vault into second place ($162 million) on the payroll list, still almost $44 million less than the Yankees. At the bottom of the list is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who spend less than $35 million. In fact, if you total the four lowest-paying teams, it would come to less than $180 million—still $26 million less than the Yankees.
So, the fact is that within the “Major Leagues,” (American and National combined) there are actually three sub-leagues:
• The Slightly-Better-Than-Minor League (the ten teams that each pay less than $70 million, and have no chance of winning a World Series).
• The Almost-There League (the seven teams that pay between $70-90 million and may make the playoffs but have little chance of winning a World Series).
• The True-Major League (the 14 teams who spend more than $90 million and have won the last six World Series). In truth, aside from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, all of the other recent World Series winners now spend more than $100 million.
So, let me return to my initial point—it is in the best interests of Major League Baseball that the New York Yankees win the World Series, as long as it takes to institute a salary cap. The people in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Oakland, Texas, and Florida, who until 2003 (the Marlins) had an actual opportunity to compete, now have absolutely no chance of celebrating a World Series victory. In truth, they should start boycotting baseball games (if they haven’t already) so the league will be forced to deal with empty stadia and waning interest in “America’s game.”
A salary cap is in the best interests of the fans, the league, and eventually the players. It works in football and basketball, where teams from Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and San Antonio have all celebrated recent championships. It helps to control costs, so average people can afford to attend an occasional game. It maintains the integrity of the league, so every team actually has a chance to beat any other team. It helps great players to win championships without making them defect to higher-paying teams.
So, while I’ll continue to root for the Red Sox on a daily basis, I’m rooting for the Yankees to win the World Series until everyone associated with the sport throws up their hands and says “Enough!”