2

The Yankees' monopoly in baseball

Nick Swisher #33 (R) of the New York Yankees celebrates with Alex Rodriguez #13 after Swisher scored on a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins during Game Three of the ALDS part of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The American League Championship series starts tomorrow night -- it's New York Yankees at the Texas Rangers.

And here is a score to keep in mind before the first pitch is even thrown: the Yankees have been to the World Series 40 times. The Rangers... well, they haven't. Ever.

Commentator and sportswriter Jon Wertheim says we ought to keep that in mind as the post-season really gets going.


Jon Wertheim: The World Series has been held since the early years of the 20th century and, yet, only a cluster of franchises has won a significant number of titles. Eight teams have never won a World Series. The Texas Rangers -- currently in the playoffs -- have never even been to the Fall Classic. On the other hand, the New York Yankees are going for their 28th title in barely a century.

As a rule, we're offended by oligopolies and monopolies; we prefer competition. It's better for consumers, it encourages innovation, it just feels fundamentally fairer. We have anti-trust laws to combat cartels. Think about it this way: Wal-Mart might be the American company most maligned for throttling competition. Yet, in 2009, its share of the U.S. retail market was barely 11 percent. So what about the Yankees? Inasmuch as World Series rings constitute a market, their share is more than 25 percent.

How can one team dominate like this? The quick and easy answer is money, especially in the absence of a salary cap. Fans of other teams will quickly note that when the Yankees can spend north of $200 million on players -- as they did this year -- and other teams barely spend half that, of course they'll have an advantage.

But there's more to it. Just about everything in baseball's structure militates against parity. Start with the long baseball season. In the same way an opinion poll sampling 100 subjects will be a more precise than a poll sampling 10 subjects, baseball's loooooooong season lends itself to an accurate reflection of talent. If two teams play one game, anything can happen. But if they play a good many games, the better team will win the majority of the time.

Then consider the playoffs. Only the eight best teams in baseball make it to the postseason -- fewest of any major sports league. And, unlike the Super Bowl, the World Series is a best-of seven game, again, a large enough sample size so that best team should win. The Yankees may have the most baseball titles, because they buy the best players. But the imbalance is allowed the flourish because of baseball itself.

Ryssdal: Jon Wertheim is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. Me? I'm a Yankees fan. Got a comment -- baseball or otherwise -- send 'em our way.

Log in to post2 Comments

This gentleman makes a poor analysis regarding why the Yankees win as much as they do. He makes an unfortunate comparison between cartels and a baseball franchise. Last I heard, the Yankees do not employ any murdering drug dealing shortstops! A very bazar statement by a senior writer, who, I am certain would like to be taken seriously.

He also fails to mention how many small market
teams have won the World Series in the past two
decades. A few of them beating the evil drug dealing Yankees at that.

So parity means playing less games, so, the less talented can save face? So what would be the magic number of games to be played so parity can be enjoyed by the fans? He fails to mention any facts behind his ridicules comments. That tells me that he probably wrote this article in ten minutes on the way to the airport somewhere.

This is probably one of the worst articles that I
have had the unfortunate displeasure of wasting my time with. With all due respect.

So the W.S. should be just one game?
How many teams should make the post season?
How many games should a season consist of?
Is parity more important than talent?
Should a talented team be frowned upon?
Should basketball play just one game in the finals, also?

This is an embarrassing piece!

Funny that there is no mention of the cost per ring. Before last year, they had not won in 9 years. They've won 5 in 20. In the same time the Marlins and Jays (small market/salary teams) won 2 each! If you want to talk playoff appearances, just look at the Braves. Perhaps it's as much about being in a major market (for a long time) as about $$$.

With Generous Support From...