Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Small Markets Spell Salvation For Postseason

Picture this: the Giants beat the Mets, the Cardinals beat the Braves, the White Sox lose to the Mariners and the A’s beat the Yankees. That’s the scenario shaping up after the first two days of the divisional series, and it’s a scenario that must be scaring the bejesus out of the boys down at Major League Baseball and the good folks over at the National Broadcasting Company.

From the point of view of ratings, there couldn’t possibly be a worse set of outcomes – should these trends continue, the four major market teams in the playoffs would all be knocked out and in their place would be Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland and San Francisco. NBC must be giddy about that, and for that, we too should all be giddy, because having someone besides the Yankees winning the World Series will be great for baseball.

Which is not to say that a Subway Series, not some sort of Bay Area Rapid Transit series, would be a great thing for baseball, too. The fact remains, however, that as sad as it may be, neither of the New York teams is going to capture the crown this year.

The Mets, up to this point, have been nothing but anemic on offense. All September long, Mike Piazza, who has been the heart and soul of this team all year, has hit more like Rafael Santana than the guy who was the early lock for MVP. Robin Ventura has lived up to his first name, being about as effective at the plate as a little nancy-boy prancing around in a green cape. The only chance the Mets have to stay alive is their pitching, which has been hit or miss all year.

Across town, the Yankees, those lovable losers, have fallen on hard times. To say they limped into the playoffs is an overstatement of Herculean proportions; they were carried across it on a stretcher, going 3-13 over their last 16 games and not clinching a postseason berth until after the Mets. And nothing makes George Steinbrenner angrier than getting shown up by the New York Mets. Manager Joe Torre has written off all of New York’s agita, claiming that this is a team built for the postseason, and that they will be able to pull it together in time to make another magical October run. Maybe so, but you have to believe a team playing the worst baseball in the entire league is hardly equipped to make anything but a beer run. Serves em right of course; America loves a winner, but nobody loves a bad winner, which is precisely what the Yankees have been this year – an arrogant, overpaid bunch of underachievers.

No matter who, other than the Yankees, wins the World Series, it’s a victory for the rest of baseball. If your team is out of contention, you have to be pulling for one of the small-market, low-payroll teams like the Mariners or Athletics. These teams have relied on fundamentals and developed players from their own systems to build contending teams and used wise free-agent moves to add key components to their teams. The A’s lineup is comprised almost entirely of young talent like Miguel Tejada and Tim Hudson, who are in the process of becoming marquis talents.

Having these low-payroll, small market teams succeed also has to make you feel better about the state of baseball in general. For years, small market owners like Commissioner Bud Selig have bellyached that their teams simply cannot compete under baseball’s current economic structure. After the Ken Griffey Jr. trade this winter, it seemed like the Mariners were the quintessential example of a team pigeonholed by the free agency system. So what did they do? They managed to do a heck of a lot better than Griffey’s Reds, who are probably already sick of golf by now.

The fact is, small market teams must compete in an unfair system, one that puts them at a nearly insurmountable disadvantage, but they can compete. They just have to be smarter about how they do it. Even the major-market teams have to be smart about how they manage themselves – even with Steinbrenner’s seemingly unlimited resources, it looks as if the Yankees won’t be crowned champion this season.

Either way, it goes to show you, once again, that Selig is hardly the guy who should be running major league baseball; he had a tough enough time with the Milwaukee Brewers.

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