April 1, 2006
THERE'S NO CRYING POVERTY IN BASEBALL:
It's Anyone's Ballgame: With Fundamentals -- Not Dollars -- a Bigger Part of the Sport, a Surprise Champion May Be Lurking (Dave Sheinin, 3/29/06, Washington Post)
In hindsight, the White Sox' success should not have been so unexpected simply because they were mediocre the year before. In fact, they were the fourth team in five years to win the World Series after logging 85 or fewer wins the year before -- including two champions (the 2003 Florida Marlins and the 2002 Anaheim Angels) who had losing records the year before.
So, with the dawn of the 2006 season upon us, we say to thee: Have faith, Milwaukee. Hang in there, Arizona. Believe, Baltimore. This really could be your year.
If the period from roughly 1995 to 2001 will be known forever as the Steroid Era, perhaps this one will be known as the Parity Era. The evidence, as it was in the last era, is right in front of our eyes:
Eight different NL pennant winners in the last eight years. Four straight unique AL champs. Six different teams winning the World Series in the last six years. In the last five years, almost half the teams in baseball -- 13 out of 30 -- have played in a league championship series. And by our count, there are perhaps 17 teams good enough to win it all this season. [...]
Both of last year's World Series participants were near the middle of the pack in terms of payroll -- the White Sox in 13th place ($75,178,000), the Astros in 12th ($76,779,000). And both the 2002 Angels ($61.7 million) and the 2003 Marlins ($48.7 million) were poor enough that they actually received money under the revenue-sharing formula that shifts funds from the haves to the have-nots. [...]
Besides modest payrolls and big jumps in the standings from one year to the next, what else ties together our recent World Series champs (excluding, of course, the aberrational 2004 Red Sox)?
For one thing, they all stuck with young pitchers through the inevitable growing pains -- and were rewarded for it in the end.
For Chicago, right-hander Jon Garland went from 12 wins and a 4.89 ERA in 2004 to 18 wins and a 3.50 in 2005, and lefty Mark Buehrle dropped his ERA by more than three-quarters of a run in the same time frame. The 2003 Marlins had similar success with Brad Penny and Josh Beckett, and the 2002 Angels with Jarrod Washburn and Ramon Ortiz.
Given the arms they've stocked up, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see the Marlins contending for a World Series title again just a few years down the road. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 1, 2006 6:35 AM