By: Scott Feldner
It is August 8th, and the best record in the National League, belongs to the New York Mets at an impressive 66-44. 22 games over 500 and 12.5 game lead in the division. So what is so bad about that?
Lets put this in perspective. That record would place the Mets a full 10 games in the win column behind the best record in the American League which belongs to the Detroit Tigers. 10 games. Do you have any idea how long it takes teams to make up a 10 game difference? And guess what? The Mets 66-44 record wouldn’t be 2nd best in the American League either, that belongs to the Yankees at 66-42. Guess what? The Mets would only be 1 game ahead of the White Sox, the Red Sox and the Twins as well.
So what has happened in major league baseball, to throw the cosmic powers of interleague balance so out of whack? Is it the designated hitter? Is it the disturbing lack of pitchers who can hit higher than .100?
Although those might all be factors, its really much simpler than that, its money, money and more money. The financial imbalance in the major leagues, is exemplified by the financial imbalance between the two divisions.
We all know that the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball at 194 million dollars this year. But take a closer look at the numbers, the American League has the #1 spot, the #2 spot with the Red Sox at 120 million, the #3 spot with the Angels at 103 million, and the #4 spot with the White Sox at 102 million. Other than the anomaly that is the #14 ranked Detroit Tigers at 82 million, what do those top 4 spots all have in common? Money buys wins. The Yankees are in first in the East 2 games ahead of, that’s right, the number 2 money team in all of baseball, the Red Sox. The Angles are in 2nd place in the West, and the White Sox are in 2nd place in the Central and leading the Wild Card race.
The facts are there, the best records are in the American league, because the most money is in the American league. So when you look at the standings each day, and wonder why so many sub-500 teams are in the Wild Card race in the National league, make sure you take a look at the 2006 payroll numbers and you will see exactly why.