-Two southpaws took to the mound at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night for Game 1 of the World Series, which speaks to the value of quality left-handed pitching. That’s one of many reasons I love having Brian Matusz on the O’s. It’d be great to have Erik Bedard back in (orange and) black as well.
-Perhaps the networks should look to Jeremy Guthrie for some perspective on Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia’s time as Indians teammates. Guthrie played with the pair in Cleveland from 2004 to 2006.
Given each player’s development since, it’s hard to believe that a team with Sabathia, Lee, and Guthrie never made the playoffs. The Indians finally broke through in 2007, a season after Cleveland designated Guthrie for assignment.
Here are some other O’s who played with Lee and Sabathia on the Indians:
Arthur Rhodes (2005), Danys Baez (2002 & 2003), Nerio Rodriguez (one game in 2002), Sal Fasano (2008), Jorge Julio (2008), Jason Johnson (2006), Joe Borowski (2007 & 2008; Borowski played six games with the O’s in 1995), Chris Gomez (2007), and David Dellucci (2007-2008; Dellucci played 17 games for the O’s in 1997).
-Did you notice the Severna Park hat that Mark Teixeira sported in his Little League baseball photo during the MLB players-as-kids commercials? He was probably thinking about Don Mattingly when the picture was taken.
-Speaking of high-priced free agents, the Yankees have had the highest payroll in baseball every year since 1998 when they were topped by …. you can guess where this is going … the Baltimore Orioles.
Here’s an excerpt from a Rick Bozich column in the Courier-Journal:
According to the baseball salary database compiled by USA Today, the Baltimore Orioles had the highest payroll in baseball in 1998. The Orioles were on the hook for $70.4 million.That was the last time the Yankees let that happen. In fact, this season the gap between the Yankees’ $201.4 million opening-day payroll and the payroll of the number two team (the Mets at $149.4 million) was greater than the total payroll of the Marlins, Padres and Pirates.
Using the USA Today numbers, since 2000 the Yankees have spent about $502 million more than the Red Sox, the club with second overall payroll.
The issue over which the strike was forced, said Commissioner Bud Selig, was “competitive balance”—the idea that the “big market” teams were dominating the “small market” teams.
Competitive balance, though, was just a diversion. By 1993, the Yankees hadn’t won a World Series in 15 seasons, and the Mets had won just one (1986) in 24 seasons. The Dodgers, the biggest-market team in the National League, had taken only one World Series (1988) since 1965; the Angels, with whom they shared a colossal fan base, had never won a Series at all. In fact, the previous two World Series had been won by the Toronto Blue Jays, who, as former union executive director Marvin Miller shrewdly noted, “were labeled a small market team when they lost and a big market team when they won.”
Ironically, the phony issue of competitive balance ended what was, by the standards of previous years, one of the most competitive seasons baseball had ever seen: Of 28 teams, just two had a won-lost percentage of over .600 and none were under .400. Baseball had been evolving towards equality for decades, and the advent of free agency in 1976 had accelerated that evolution along.
The sports press hailed the luxury tax as a victory for the owners, but ultimately what did it accomplish? For the 2009 season, the average player’s salary was $3.26 million, or $2.06 million more than 15 years ago. And if the point of forcing the strike was to make smaller-market teams competitive against big-market teams, that, too has failed. The four teams that just finished playing for the league championships—the Yankees, the Angels, the Phillies and the Dodgers—represent baseball’s three biggest markets.