First, a confession. I am a baseball nut. This is because it most resembles cricket, which I played for many years when I lived in the UK. Both involve the hurling of a hard projectile at a player holding a wooden stick at speeds of up to 100 mph, who is then required to make meaningful contact with it, with all of 0.25 seconds of reaction time.
Yesterday was the final day of this past season which saw the Boston Red Sox win the World Series rather convincingly. So I am going to indulge myself and write a piece about why I have a pet peeve when it comes to major league sports.
Another confession. If the Toronto Blue Jays are not participating in post-season play, then I invariably root for the team that has the lowest payroll. When a major sports championship is won by the team that threw the most money at trying to get it, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
In 2014 the University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics, published a report entitled Salary Inequality, Team Success and the Superstar Effect. The author focused on salary distribution and team performance for teams in the NHL over the six year period 2005 to 2010. He concluded that “higher relative team payrolls and a higher team maximum salary have a positive effect on a team’s winning percentage.” No surprise there!
This explains why I was hoping that the Milwaukee Brewers would beat the Dodgers in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series as, had they done so, it would have highlighted one of the biggest payroll disparities in World Series history. The Red Sox have a payroll of around $237 million (compared to the Blue Jays who have $163 million) which is the highest in baseball. I obtained these figures from Fangraphs (a baseball blog) which also reveals that the Red Sox have spent $987.1 million on the team over the past five years. Only the Dodgers and Yankees have spent more.
One fascinating fact arising out of the just completed series is that the MVP was Steve Pearce. Pearce was traded to the Red Sox by the Blue Jays during the latter part of the season for a player whose name you will probably never hear again. But here’s the thing. The super-rich Red Sox managed to persuade the Blue Jays to pay a chunk of Pearce’s salary for the remainder of his contract. Ouch!
Oh well, since I am talking about baseball, here is another fascinating fact. The Current has just published an article about a local sawmill. My resident historian recounts a story she heard that in the old days of the lumber barons (and well into the twentieth century) many mills of Renfrew County had baseball teams. It was said that the mill owners hired their workers for their baseball skills, not necessarily their work skills.
Image: By MLB Advanced Media, LP – MLB.com, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73823096