I have two favorite baseball teams. They play in the two cities in which I grew up and lived most of my life, namely St. Louis and Los Angeles. One came through for me this season.
The St. Louis Cardinals won all of 83 regular-season games in 2006, and almost played themselves right out of post-season competition. Along the way, they had two eight-game losing streaks and one seven-game losing streak. They were underdogs to all of their post-season opposition, and justifiably so. But fortunately for the Cardinals, the games are played on the field, and not in the sports books.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, CHAMPIONS OF BASEBALL. AS JACK BUCK WOULD HAVE SAID, ďTHATíS A WINNER.Ē
Story of the Week
MLB TEAM PAYROLLS
MLB TEAM PLAYER PAYROLLS AT THE START OF 2006:
There were changes (up and down) in team payrolls as the year progressed, but the information regarding those changes was so conflicting that I elected to write this article based upon the payrolls at the start of the season. Data was obtained from OneStopBaseball.Com.
*The eight 2006 playoff teams are noted in money green.
New York Yankees $194,663,079
Boston Red Sox $120,099,824
Los Angeles Angels $103,472,000
Chicago White Sox $102,750,667
New York Mets $101,084,963
Los Angeles Dodgers $98,447,187
Chicago Cubs $94,424,499
Houston Astros $92,551,503
Atlanta Braves $90,156,876
San Francisco Giants $90,056,419
St. Louis Cardinals $88,891,371
Philadelphia Phillies $88,273,333
Seattle Mariners $87,959,833
Detroit Tigers $82,612,866
Baltimore Orioles $72,585,582
Toronto Blue Jays $71,915,000
San Diego Padres $69,896,141
Texas Rangers $68,228,662
Minnesota Twins $63,396,006
Washington Nationals $63,143,000
Oakland Athletics $62,243,079
Cincinnati Reds $60,909,519
Arizona Diamondbacks $59,684,226
Milwaukee Brewers $57,568,333
Cleveland Indians $56,031,500
Kansas City Royals $47,294,000
Pittsburgh Pirates $46,717,750
Colorado Rockies $41,233,000
Tampa Bay Devil Rays $35,417,967
Florida Marlins $14,998,500
MLB Luxury Tax For 2006:
No tax for first-timers. 30% for second-timers. 40% for third- and fourth-timers. The line of demarcation free and clear of the luxury tax is anything under $136.5 million. (It has been a graduating scale since 2002. This collective bargaining agreement expires on December 19th. of this year.)
Iíve been finding fault for years with the lack of a salary cap in MLB. Itís unfair as hell, and creates anything but a level playing field. Before you tell me Iím all wet, consider the following:
Sure, the Yankees had to pay a luxury tax of 40% of $58,163,079; their payroll less $136.5 million x 40%. That total tax was $23,265,231. So the combination of their payroll plus the luxury tax was $217,928,310. So what! Georgeís total revenues from tickets, concessions, parking, and his good friend, television, were in excess of $400 million.
Yes, the Yankees, based on starting 2006 payrolls, were the only MLB team taxed. So why donít other teams spend more money and still avoid the tax?
Possible reasons: They feel they can challenge for a title without a higher payroll OR their total revenues donít justify it OR theyíre in it for the money and not to win a title. In all fairness, however, true small-market teams have little chance to capture the brass ring of baseball, although it has been done.
Solution: Make all teams adhere to a bona-fide salary cap. However, force all teams to adhere to a minimum salary payroll based on a specific % of total (all sources) team revenues. Yes, Iím taking a shot at the Yankees, but Iím also taking a shot at the Florida Marlins. Both situations are totally absurd!
Closing Observations Re: 2006 Team Player Payrolls:
Of the top 10 payrolls, only three of those teams made it to the playoffs.
World Series participants St. Louis and Detroit were #ís 11 and 14 respectively on that expenditure list.
The Yankeesí payroll was $23,158,842 million more than the combined total payrolls of St. Louis and Detroit before their luxury tax kicked in.
Bottom line to the bottom line: Itís not necessarily how much money you spend that counts, but rather who and what you spend it on!
Last Weekís Trivia
Dan Marino had 67 300+ yard games in his 15-year career at Miami, 63 in regular season and four in playoffs.
Trivia Question of the Week
Thereís more than one brother combination in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Half of this one gained prominence as the star center for the Boston Bruins. The other half of this brother duet was an outstanding goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks. Name them. See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.