The Bigger the Better?

Chris Donaldson

 

At the center of professional sports is a large amount of money, none bigger than the pot of money that runs Major League Baseball. Typically larger cities like New York, Miami, and Los Angeles have the most success and have the largest revenues to spend on signing the very best players. Although a recent trend has seen smaller market teams with smaller budgets overtake the top spots on top the American and National league.

            A popular movie was made about a major league team with little money to spend, called Money ball. This team over came their poverty to reach the playoffs. This team just happened to be the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics play in front of an average eighteen thousand people in a stadium that seats sixty three thousand. Their average budget, fifty six million dollars, is the second lowest over a five year span. The Athletics however have managed to accumulate the second best record in the American League West anyway after averaging seventy five wins for five years.

            The Los Angeles Angels are one of the most recognizable teams in the major leagues. They are also one of the most successful teams in the MLB. Their average win total over the past five years, eighty five, is five wins higher than the Oakland A’s. The Angels also play in the second largest city in the United States. They also have an average budget of one hundred twenty five million dollars. The Angels recent success resulted in a one hundred win season in 2008, but since has seen a fall in success for the team. Since winning one hundred games in 2008, they have averaged just eighty two wins in the seasons since then. Their top spot atop the American League was taken by the Texas Ranger and none other than the Oakland A’s.

            The rise of the small market team has become more evident over the past five or so seasons. It is spearheaded by the Tampa Bay Rays who managed to reach the World Series in 2008 on the second lowest team budget, being just forty three million dollars. The Rays play in front of an average crowd of twenty three thousand people in a stadium meant to seat forty thousand people, so there is little fan support to help bolster their small budget. The Rays, however, have made the playoffs four of the past five years. They have defiantly led the way and laid the blueprint for other small market teams to create a winning team.

            Francis Bacon said in an essay, “Riches are for spending”, and large market teams like Los Angles and Boston sure have riches and they sure do spend them. Although for these teams, Caryll Houselander’s quote rings true, “Powerful to alleviate, to delay, to camouflage, though money is, in the end it lets us down.” (The Reed of God) As for teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s, money has not let down, in part because they do not have as much. The rise of the small market team is becoming more and more evident and the amount of money spent in free agency is becoming less and less relevant.