I am going to say something highly controversial but think about it for a second before you react. The New York Yankees are one of the worst teams in baseball.
I know, I know, I sound like a bitter fan of an American League East rival. And I am. But if you think about the ridiculous amount of money the Yankees spend (more than $207 million in 2006) and compare it to their success in the playoffs in recent years, you realize they really are not that good.
The last time the Yankees won a World Series (2000) their payroll was $92 million; a big wad of cash but somewhat reasonable. Fast-forward six years and they have proven they can spend the money to buy up all the sought-after talent but they have yet to prove they can put all the expensive pieces together.
2006 final standings, winning percentage, final payroll and payroll differential to next (higher) placed team
NYY .599 $207.5 (—)
TOR .537 $72.4 (-135.1)
BOS .531 $137.5 (+65.1)
BAL .432 $76.1 (-61.4)
TB .377 $36.4 (-39.7)
League Average Payroll = $105.98
MIN .593 $64.8 (—)
DET .586 $89.8 (+25.0)
CHW .556 $96.9 (+7.1)
CLE .481 $52.4 (-44.5)
KC .383 $51.5 (-0.9)
League Average Payroll = $71.08
OAK .574 $71.0 (—)
LAA .549 $104.0 (+33)
TEX .494 $82.7 (-21.3)
SEA .481 $95.3 (+12.6)
League Average Payroll = $88.25
By the above numbers it is clear that it doesn’t matter how much money you spend (unless you are the Yankees and you blow EVERYONE out of the water), you still have to play the games. In only the AL East did the team with the highest salary finish first. In the AL West, the team with the lowest salary in the division won the title.
However, is it fair that teams in the AL East are looking at having to spend almost $20 million more than any team in any other league just to feel competitive? Not to mention the unbalanced schedule mean teams in the AL East are far less likely to win the AL Wild Card, which is based on winning percentage. The Blue Jays, for example, face the two highest salaried teams (and the best talent in the league by assumption) more than any other team in the American League.
Why is this travesty allowed to continue? Well the player’s union does not care because they care about one thing: They care about making the most money as possible for their clients (and themselves).
And Major League Baseball does not care because, well, it is also good for business and New York fans donated a lot of their hard-earned money to tickets, memorabilia, hats and also turn in to watch Yankee TV. It should also be noted that the headquarters of Major League Baseball is in New York, which no doubt means a large portion of the executives are fans of the Yankees or Mets. They would then possess a similar mindset to other New Yorkers: “You don’t like the way we throw money around? To *** bad. We’re from New York.”
If baseball really wants to make things fair, they should rearrange the divisions each year based on how much money the teams spent the previous year. Based on this, the divisions in 2007 would look like this:
It looks a lot better to me. Sure, purists would not like it but how do they feel about a first place team in the AL East having a salary of more than $135 million compared to the second place team? I sure don’t like it and frankly it is ruining a great sport for everyone who doesn’t live in New York.