As the Yanks have spent money they have to spend at a time when other teams are conserving resources, they’ve been subject to numerous articles expounding on how they should be vilified for “buying a championship.” Plus, these columnists claim, it doesn’t work. Luckily, Yankee fans are a little more level-headed than, well, everyone else.
In a post on Bronx Banter over the weekend, Alex Belth deftly dismissed this charges. While the Yanks may be buying a championship, this approach has actually worked. Writes Belth:
Sure, it doesn’t always work, we know that (and thank goodness, because it keeps things interesting). But facts are facts: since the start of free agency in 1977, no team has spent more money on players than the Yankees have; no team has won more pennants or more championships. So while no team can ever fool themselves that they can pre-arrange success (as George Steinbrenner was accused of believing in the Eighties), the Yankees aggresiveness in the free agency market hasn’t always back fired either.
I’d like to take this argument one step further. Spending money and making the playoffs often does indeed guarantee success. While the team that spends the most doesn’t always win the World Series, the richer teams seem to win. Since the 2001 Diamondbacks upset the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the World Series, the team with the higher payroll has won the World Series four out of seven times. The three exceptions were the 2003 Marlins who simply out-pitched and out-managed the Yankees, the 2002 Angels who pretty much came out of nowhere and the 2005 White Sox whose payroll was a measly $1.6 million less than that of the Astros.
Heading back into the 1990s reveals the same trend. Every year the Yankees won the World Series, they did so with a payroll higher than that of their opponent. Between 1995 and 2000, only the 1997 Marlins emerged victorious with a lower payroll than their opponent.
So it works. Spending money pretty much works. It’s not a guarantee. As Belth writes, the games keep things interesting. But once October rolls around, the richer teams invariably win. Just ask the Red Sox. Just because they spend the second- or third-most in baseball doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to buy a championship either, and there’s nothing wrong with it.