Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Don't let facts get in the way of a good argument

This morning on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio they were discussing the impending labor difficulties in the NFL. There is a distinct possibility that some sort of work stoppage looms on the horizon, with the potential for a cap-less league if no deal gets done within the next day or two. The prospect of no salary cap got co-host Mike Golick all atwitter. Absolutely hysterical over the idea that teams that actually make money will be able to spend more money than their lazy brethren, Mike brought up the horrifying specter of . . . Major League Baseball. Yeah, didn't see that coming. Paraphrasing from memory, he said something to the effect of, "Look at baseball, where 6 or 7 teams tops have realistic prospects of winning the World Series every year."

You know, you would think in the age of Google statements like this that are so devoid of atual truth would be more difficult to make on a sports program. And the guy is probably surrounded by various statistical sources. But statistics aside, mere common sense and basic observation reveals that Mike is just blowing hot air (in between bites of his donut).

The great myth in all of professional sports is that the NFL is somehow more competetive than Major League Baseball. Only big-market teams, it is said, have any chance to win the World Series. Well, we all know how successful big market teams like the Mets, Dodgers, Cubs and Phillies have been in recent years, while down-and-out franchises like the Twins, A's, and Marlins are never heard from. Oh . . . wait.

And of course, we all know there's so much more parity in football. In my lifetime, 13 different teams have won the Super Bowl, while only 19 teams have won the World Serioes. Oh . . . wait. And of course who can ever forget the golden age of parity, when from between 1980-1996 a whopping 6 different teams won the Super Bowl, with the Niners, Cowboys, and Redskins winning at least three. While, in the same period, 14 teams won the Series, and exactly ZERO winning more than three times.

But let's look at more recent times. After all, only big market teams win the World Series, right? The Yankees must win every year. Well, they did in the late nineties. But exactly how many World Series titles have they won since 2000? In fact, in the decade beginning 2000, there have been 6 World Series, and 6 different teams have won the World Series. In the same time period, there have been 7 Super Bowls, and 5 different teams have won, with the Patriots the only team in either sport to win more than once.

And of course, let's not forget cash-rich teams like the Angels (15th in salary), Marlins (25th) and White Sox (13th) winning recent World Series. How can anyone not in the upper echelon ever hope to compete?

This year of course looks grim. How can the cash-starved Blue Jays actually hope to compete this year? Will they be able to survive this season on their threadbare budget? And can we realistically expect a team like the Indians or A's to make a push?

No, because in baseball, only rich teams win World Series, and only a select few of those ever compete. If only it could be more like the NFL, and we'd be sure to have thrill-inducing championship events like the recently completed Super Bowl.


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