My Thoughts on Parity

It’s been a while, but I’m still in top form and ready to start a rant. So what are we waiting for?

As a Royals fan, Bills fan, Chiefs fan, etc., I know what it means to lose. The Chiefs are in a 9-35 slump over the past three seasons, and the Bills… well, do the words “Wide Right” or “Music City Miracle” mean anything to you? But baseball is the worst. All the other leagues have at least some form of parity. The Chiefs went 13-3 a few seasons ago before the drop out. Even though the Bills lost those playoff games, they were still playoff games. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl champions just ten months ago, are on the verge of missing the playoffs, while the Saints, last place in the NFC South just one year ago, are undefeated. That’s parity for you. And that’s just the NFL. In the NBA, the Boston Celtics went from second-worst to first in the span of one year. In the NHL, last year’s Eastern Conference runner-up, the Carolina Hurricanes, are having one of their worst seasons ever. This is the cycle of parity: The winners lose, the losers win, and eventually everyone’s happy at one point or another. So what’s wrong Major League Baseball?

The Kansas City Royals are in a very long drought. They have not reached the playoffs in nearly 25 years, since their improbable World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals. 70 playoff births. Fourteen American league teams. That should average to exactly five playoff births per team in that era. The New York Yankees have made the playoffs eleven times in that time frame, winning the World Series five times. The Boston Red Sox have made the playoffs twelve times in that time frame. The Oakland A’s have made it nine times, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (what a mouthful) eight times, and the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians seven times. These six teams combined make up 43% of the American League- and 77% of all playoff births in the American League between 1986 and 2009. Nearly 25 years. That’s a long time to allow parity to take hold- but it never has.

There are some theories I have for this problem with Major League Baseball, and I will of course offer some ways to fix them. I believe the problem lies in many alternate causes, but it all links to one thing- finances. Major League Baseball has no salary cap, so teams that have loads of money can go out and buy as many star players as they want, creating a void where the star players should be on low-income, small-market teams. Meanwhile, these teams of good players (*cough cough Yankees*) start winning games over the small market teams and in doing so, create more fan interest. As more fans become interested, more fans buy tickets, and when fans buy tickets, they buy souvenirs and food from the stadium. This generates more income, and we get back where we started: lots of money for those teams to buy good players. Argument One: Major League Baseball has a luxury tax on teams that spend more than a certain amount of money. Answer: While the MLB does have a luxury tax, it is set too high and the penalty is not enough to affect any teams in a way that creates parity. Check this out: According to the Baseball Almanac, the New York Yankees spent over 200 million dollars on their payroll; the Royals, 58 million. The Yankees, of course, fared much better than the Royals. 200 million dollars is an absurd number to spend on payroll. We need a salary cap! Argument Two: Teams can develop good talent through farm systems. Answer: The Kansas City Royals have one of the best farm systems in the league, but where is that getting them? The truly talented players can be signed away after a few years by other teams. The NFL Draft is very successful; the number one overall pick is already a starting quarterback, and many rookies around the league have starting jobs. The MLB Draft has about 1/1,000 of the magnitude of that draft. How many mock drafts do you see for Major League Baseball? How much media attention? Some teams even skip draft picks because they don’t care about it anymore. If the attitude of teams is that they’d rather not draft players, that tells you that they aren’t committed to using the farm system.

What I’m trying to say here is that there are many arguments that you can make that Major League Baseball does have parity. And maybe it does, a little bit. But the luxury tax is too flimsy, teams don’t want to wait through the long process of the farm system, and high-income teams become spending juggernauts and spend more money than is necessary. The bottom line is that if Major League Baseball wants to have fan interest, they need to have parity. Sure, fans in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia are interested. But those are large-market cities and many teams come from small-market organizations. To have parity, Major League Baseball needs to impose a salary cap. Without it, America’s pastime may be America’s pastime no longer.  

This Year In Baseball’s Oddity Award

As this blog is called the odd blog, it is only fitting that I should break down TYIB’s Oddity Award. But first a little order of business:

Zack Greinke wins Cy Young Award!

What did I tell you? My lobbying for him waaay back in April must have some effect, because he won in a landslide. (http://theoddblog.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/04/vote.html – the hyperlink thing is busted) All those Yankee fans who bet me that CC would blow Greinke out of the water, I accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards. (That would be… zero people)

But seriously, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Greinke. You’ve all heard that social anxiety spiel, and it’s really a great story. But I just love the way this guy talks. He’s all business in the interview I saw. It’s November, four days before he gets married (congratulations to Greinke in more ways than one) and over a month since the season ended and all he’s focused on is baseball, how he won the award, and what he can do to duplicate the feat- or improve on it. That’s what I picked up off of the interview. He also allegedly (I can say anything as long as it says allegedly before it) likes World of Warcraft, though that comes from a ninth grade English teacher- not exactly a credible source. Moving on…

This Year in Baseball’s Oddity Award

I’m here to break down who you should vote for:

Nominee 1: The bees in San Diego. I believe I have covered this, and it is certainly very odd. Enough to make it this year’s winner? I don’t know. My oddness ranking: 8/10.

Nominee 2: Milton Bradley loses count: Chicago Cubs right fielder loses count of the number of outs in the inning and throws the ball in the stands. If I were the fan that caught that, I would burn it in representation of that long World Series drought. This isn’t odd however; it’s just stupid. My oddness ranking: 3/10

Nominee 3: Luis Castillo botches pop-up: This isn’t odd at all! He just lost the pop-up. I did it all the time in my little league games! Plus, the Yankees won as a result. This looks like a load of East-Coast bias right here. My oddness ranking: 1/10

Nominee 4: Won for the birds: Yeah, I’ve broken it down right here on the Odd Blog. Ball hits bird, ball and bird go in opposite directions, and neither lands in Coco Crisp’s glove. Argh! This makes me so mad. The birdman gets 5/10 for spite.

Nominee 5: Dad bare-hands foul: Not fowl, foul- I’m still seething from that last nominee- however, this one is awesome. A one-handed, bare-handed catch. Not something you see everyday. I’ll give this one 8/10 as well.

Nominee 6: Stuck in jersey: They always put one of these up every year. It’s not that odd, last year there were even two of them. 4/10 for overuse.

Nominee 7: Girl rejects foul ball: This one has been all over. Somebody catches a foul ball, gives it to his daughter, who throws it back onto the field. 2/10 for being used way too much this year.

Nominee 8: Teddy gets run over: Teddy didn’t get run over, he got body-checked! I suspect a little fowl foul play in this must-see video. Must see- if you like watch former presidents run a very slow race. 7/10

Nominee 9: Lucky boy snags two fouls: This boy was definitely lucky; he caught two foul balls, both while they were still in the air. Amazing! But since I don’t have this kind of luck, I’m giving him a 6/10

Nominee 10: Mr. T sings it loud: I didn’t even watch the video, it didn’t seem all that odd to me. 0/10

Well, there you have it. I’m voting for either the bees or the bare-handed foul ball. It’s up to you which one you decide, but hopefully this has made it easier. Coming up next post, I rant about parity. It’s a must-read (read?) event.  

My Thoughts on the World Series

Sorry I haven’t posted in- uh, exactly 50 days- but I’ve… oh, OK, I’ll admit I’ve spending way too much time over with that other sport I like. I figure I should probably even out the relationship here, so what else to do but blog about the World Series:

In short, I hated it.

It was the Yankees and the Phillies- I’ve got nothing against the Phillies except they won last year. I’ve got nothing against the Yankees except… they’re the Yankees. I was rooting for an all-LA series, that’s how delirious I was. (My two favorite teams in the playoffs got eliminated first round- Colorado and St. Louis.) The last straw came when the Yankees won. Now, any real American fan was rooting for the Phillies, but like most instances in real life, the team that should win, didn’t. Being a fan of all teams from Buffalo, I’ve experienced that a few times. The one time my favorite team has won a championship (in my lifetime) was this year when the Hershey Bears of the AHL won the Calder Cup. Don’t make fun, it’s the second oldest trophy in the world- if you trust Wikipedia.

Back to the point: the Yankees are spoiled. Who was it- Jorge Posada that said the Yankees were spoiled in the 1990s and 2000s. Like that was old history. The Yankees are still spoiled. That’s how the world is and that’s how it will likely remain, unfortunately for America.

America, or at least its sports, thrive on parity. With the Yankees winning 27 times and some teams only winning one or even no championships, this is bad for America. I’ll get into parity some other time because I’ve also got some words on that.

Continuing Posada’s quote: “To be back and win it is something really special.” Not to us it isn’t, Jorge. It would be special if the Royals had won, or the Cubs, or the Indians, or the Giants, or the Pirates, or the Orioles, or the Tigers, or the Mets, or the Dodgers, or the Athletics, or the Reds, or the Twins, or the Blue Jays, or the Braves, or the Nationals, or the Rangers, or the Mariners, or the Rays, or the Rockies, or the Brewers, or the Astros, or the Padres had won. They’ve waited longer. What is it about the Yankees that they must be in the playoffs (at least) seemingly every year? Whatever happened to parity?

While I Was Away…

It’s been awhile, but I have an excuse: I’ve been in school with lots (or some) homework. Joining six clubs doesn’t help. But anyway, with the Royals in fourth place, we now have something to talk about!

Royals in fourth place

At the point of my previous point, I had no hope that the Royals would ever climb out of the hole they made for themselves in July and August, but they have proved that they are capable of winning games, even if it is in… September. If they Royals could just have won a few more games in the summer, we could be going for a playoff spot. (a few… think 18). However, we have been mathematically eliminated. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to watch the rest of the season. Royals play a four-game set vs. the Red Sox, one of the (ahem) better teams in the league, but if we can take two from them, we may not be as bad as we thought! (Tonight’s pitching matchup: Wakefield vs. DiNardo. Which one have you heard of?) Red Sox fans can finally get a look at our new stadium- had enough of the eighth wonder of the world up there in NY yet?

New eighth wonder of the world is…

The Cowboys’ stadium. Hello. You know how I feel about sports stadiums being a “wonder of the world” (I have no problem with the Roman Coliseum) and this is no exception. Does it even have a name yet? Either way, NBC included it in a wonder of the world montage to begin the Sunday Night game yesterday. And I am tired of typing “wonder of the world.”

Zack Greinke for… MVP?

YES! Think of the name: Most Valuable Player. Who has been more valuable to his team this season? A-Roid? No, he was suspended for a while. Same with Banny Ramirez. Greinke has been the most valuable player to the Royals. Without him, we may have already lost 100 games this season. Unfortunately, Greinke will likely not even win the Cy Young based on wins. The Royals have not given him too much any run support, and coupled with his league-leading 2.14 ERA, he should be a lock for the Cy Young. Not only that, but he is only 21 K’s away from the Royals’ record and still has a few starts to go. Zack Greinke should not only be AL Cy Young, he should be AL MVP as well.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Expect another long stretch before I post again. Now, I’ve got to go watch that Royals/Red Sox game.  

Upon Further Review, The Eighth Wonder Of The World Is…

Still not Yankee Stadium. At this point I’d normally go on to say that it’s the Royals’ stadium, but today I’m really feeling that the first ballpark that should be added to the list should be Wrigley or Fenway, somewhere in the 2000s range. But why am I bringing this up now? Because I finally, FINALLY got to go see the Royals’ new and improved stadium this weekend! And from what I’ve seen, it’s better than Yankee Stadium. Let’s compare:

Cheaper Food: Royals. I didn’t really research this one, but from what I’ve heard, Yankee Stadium charges outrageously high prices.

Cheaper Tickets: Royals. Come on. I searched one ticket site for this. The cheapest Royals ticket was $7 (you can get them for $2.50 at a local grocery store). The Yankees… didn’t have any listed. I’m assuming they were trying to cover up the $300 tickets for the upper deck or something like that.

Better Team: Yankees. Another gimme. This could be the reason they charge too much… but probably not.

Stadium Name: Royals. Kauffman Stadium beats out Yankee Stadium any day. We know it’s the Yankees! Tell us something we don’t know.

Stadium Features: Royals. The Yankees do have a nice park, but 1) It’s a launch pad for home runs, while Kauffman is giving up less this year, and B) I don’t see a giant video screen in center field anything like ours. Some people may argue that having more home runs is better for the park, but I like seeing the game based on speed and daring, not on who can swing the bat the best. If I had my way, I’d bring back the dead-ball era.

Well, from what I see here it looks like the Royals have a much better stadium than the Yankees. Sorry New Yorkers, but the facts speak for themselves.

While I was at the game, (sitting in row FF in the nosebleed section- hey, our tickets aren’t too cheap!) I watched the Royals bullpen implode yet again. 8 runs in the seventh off of… Kyle Farnsworth! Hey, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. Apparently injury rehab didn’t help him, because he’s still doing terrible.

Zack Greinke set our team’s K record at… the K! Go figure. 15 strikeouts and we have ourselves a winner! Is the team finally giving him support? No, it’s just that it’s pretty hard to lose if you throw 15 strikeouts.

ABC is airing a new show called Shaq vs.. I’m sure you’ve all heard of it. Apparently he’s 0-for-2. Not so cocky now, is he? The real show’s coming up this week- Albert Pujols. Let’s all watch him get creamed again. (He also has to take on Michael Phelps- that’ll be even worse).

And the world’s greatest flip-flopper has flip-flopped once again. Yes, Brett Favre is back everybody. Let’s hope he retires by the third week of the season to play- and I here I quote the future “less rough football with those guys from Wrangler.”…well, maybe, maybe not.

I haven’t been posting as often since school has started, and it’ll drop off even more at a proportional rate to the Royals’ playoff chances. Saturday, my normal post day, is my birthday, so next Saturday I should be back up, hopefully. That’s all I have for now.

The Odd Blog Summer In Review

It may not seem like it, but this is probably make this summer because on Friday it’s back to school again. I can’t believe this… it seems way to soon to go back to… that place. I’ve taken the last few weeks off to enjoy as much of summer as I can, and that last post sums up the Royals’ season anyway, so I don’t feel bad about taking off announced. Well, I tried to announce it but for some reason Twitter was down so I couldn’t do anything about it. As far as I know, it’s still down here for some reason.

It’s been a wild summer, so let’s take you back to some of the memorable moments. (MY memorable moments. You can do your own.)

First of all, somewhere in there David Ortiz was discovered to have used steroids. You can go here to read my usual spiel. I’m too lazy to write it, and you’ve heard it too many times anyway, so just imagine it.

Now to the summer in animals! Everybody remembers last year when there were a bunch of bugs at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. This year, it was birds.

coco crisp's seagulls.gifphoto: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ki5EPOdCHyM/SjHdoUwom61/AAAAAAAADII/HtsKQflRzO4/s400/Cleveland+bird_6-11-09_2.jpg

Some say Coco Crisp couldn’t throw out the runner. I think we should play it over anyway… in a dome! It’s not that I don’t like playing out in the elements. I just dislike it when stray birds affect the outcome of the game. Grumble…

Then there were the bees at the Padres game. I didn’t really care about those, but I’m still wondering why the Padres had a beekeeper on speed dial.

Now there’s this little incident from Kansas City:

cat at the K.gifphoto: mlb.com
Whoa. That picture was a little bigger than I wanted it to be. I still need some work putting images in. Anyway, this one didn’t cause too much of a delay, and it didn’t really mess up the game or anything, so I’m saying that this was probably the best animal encounter 2009. Of course, if it had been Coco Crisp up to bat instead of in the field in Cleveland, I’d probably choose differently.

Now back to the present. I’m that are offense finally learned how to play the game. (You swing the bat at the ball. Not at the air, the ball!) We’ve had 40 hits in the last three games, as opposed to three hits in 40 games the last few months (purely hypothetical). Even so, I feel like we’ve cemented our place in the basement of the AL Central. Now we’ve just got one more obstacle:

washington natinals.gifphoto: sportslogos.net 
Come on, Natinals! You may not be able to spell your own team name right, but you can start winning games! Let the Royals have the first overall draft pick! You don’t *cough cough* need it! *cough*

That’s all for now. I’ll probably get back to blogging once I get back into the grind of school. Argh. School…

v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
b\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}



280

7772400
10058400

259
261
257
275
262
278
1
0.)GG3<!B>D*3+>S=0<Q^X@
5
1
0


281
False
0
0





-1



304800
243
True
128
77
255
3175
3175
70
True
True
True
True
True


277

134217728



8

Empty

8388608


13408665


15125708


13421772


16711680


10027110


16777215


33
Navy




22860000
22860000

(`@““““`
266
263
5

110185200
110185200


True
True
(“““““`
(“““““`
0
1314450
1167750


v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
b\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}



280

7772400
10058400

259
261
257
275
262
278
1
0.)GG3<!B>D*3+>S=0<Q^X@
5
1
0


281
False
0
0





-1



304800
243
True
128
77
255
3175
3175
70
True
True
True
True
True


277

134217728



8

Empty

8388608


13408665


15125708


13421772


16711680


10027110


16777215


33
Navy




22860000
22860000

(`@““““`
266
263
5

110185200
110185200


True
True
(“““““`
(“““““`
0
1314450
1167750

Losing Streaks

I’m sure all of you know what I’m talking about when I say losing streaks- but how many of you have experienced the amount of losing streaks the Royals have this season for as long as the Royals make them last? (keep your hands down, Nationals fans) It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon when your team’s winning. The losing streak is the place where you discover which fans are loyal to your team and which ones aren’t. There’s a very simple way to discover which ones are and which ones aren’t:

These are the ones that aren’t:

paper bags.gifpicture: arrowheadaddict.com via google
The sad thing is, I searched for that picture on Google, and this one was one of the first to come up. Judging from the site it came from, it’s a picture from another Kansas City team… the one that has an even worse winning percentage than the Royals.

I am proud to announce that I am not wearing a paper bag over my head as I type this, but I am getting very annoyed at the Royals’ losing ways. Here’s a typical day in the Kansas City area:

  1. Wake Up
  2. Do your morning routine until you get to reading the newspaper
  3. Read the newspaper
  4. Look at the sports section, realize that the Royals lost again, say something along the lines of “oh, well, that’s life” or “oh, well, that’s just our magical imploding bullpen” and turn to the second to last page to see if anyone bowled a 300 game at the local lanes.

Yesterday, the Royals bullpen did its magic act again, imploding in the seventh and giving up seven runs over the final three innings. The Royals are getting to be so bad that they didn’t even announce it on ESPN Radio Sportscenter. We did win the day before, but the odds state that you’re going to have to win a game sometime, unless you live in Detroit and like football.

Thanks to the ten game losing streak we had before that win, we are now living in the basement, 14 games back of Detroit for the division lead. Maybe I shouldn’t have insulted Detroit in the last paragraph… … … no, I think I’ll leave it the way it is.

The last win we had before Saturday was on July 9 against the Boston Red Sox. In that time, there was an all-star game, the Yankees and Angels and probably a bunch of other teams tied together some nice winning streaks, Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game, Jonathon Sanchez pitched a no-hitter- that’s two no-hitters between our last two wins- and that’s just in baseball. I don’t think there’s any need to go on.

Finally today’s oddness: In yesterday’s NASCAR race Juan Pablo Montoya lost the race after he got punished for speeding. Speeding! What is this world coming to? Somebody got penalized in a race for speeding. That’s unbelievable to me. 

The Odd Blog First Half In Review

Well, it’s been an exciting first half, hasn’t it? There’s been many surprises, some of them good, some of them bad, and… some of them weren’t really surprises at all, though I don’t know what I mean by that. I just needed something to fill up that empty space there.

First off, the news! The season started with the startling news that A-Rod used steroids, prompting many people to rename him A-Roid. A few months later, Manny Ramirez was discovered to have used a PED, prompting me to rename him Banny Ramirez. Ramirez just passed Mickey Mantle on the all time home run list, and I think that’s a shame, because as far as I know, Mickey Mantle never used a banned substance.

On a lighter note, there have been quite a few players who are doing good things this season, and hopefully without PEDs. Roy Halladay, Zack Greinke, and Dan Haren are all doing great this season, and there are a lot of other pitchers also doing OK who I will chose not to name for no specific reason. Raul Ibanez finally broke out this year with the Phillies… and then there’s that guy in St. Louis… what’s his name… um, Albert Pujols! If you don’t know what he’s doing, you need to go to MLB.com or the Cardinals website and look it up! He’s having a career year without using a banned substance! See, A-Roid, Banny? It can be done!

At the beginning of the year, I made my picks for each division. Let’s see how they’re playing out now:

                            AL                                                        NL

TOBHIR.gifI hope you can read that. If not, it’s time to get your eyes checked.

Well, this means that I am one of the world’s foremost authorities on the AL East, and I know nothing about the division I’m supposed to know about.

Now back to present day baseball. The Royals are playing a doubleheader today! I love it! It gives us a better chance to win at least one game in a day! Of course, playing the Angels, it’ll probably 12-2, 10-3 or something like that- in LA’s favor.

I went to a Northern League baseball game Sunday; they’re in independent league in which the Kansas City team is actually good! (What a shock!) It was a great 10-inning game, complete with suicide squeeze play in the bottom of the ninth. The players hit a lot of baseballs out of the stadium, so it’s pretty easy to find one if you know where to look. I’m 2-for-2 this year!

And finally, Tom Watson, (a native Kansas Citian I might add) did an amazing job at
the British Open, taking second. I would say congratulations, but the
odds of him reading this blog are very slim.

I’m Seeing Stars

All-stars, that is. It was a great game last night with Zack Greinke getting the job done in the fourth, even though he should have started in my opinion. Either way, I’m happy because the AL won. My dad is an NL backer, mostly because of the DH rule, but they haven’t won for 13 years now, so maybe he’ll change his mind in ten or twenty years.

There was another event that took place before the all-star game, and a lot of people were very disappointed with it. The home run derby has apparently lost some of its flair in the last few years. So you’re probably not surprised that I have a few suggestions on how to make it better.

The NHL has an all-star skills challenge before the all star game every year, so why can’t the MLB have something like that? There could be a best wind-up or batting stance competition just like there’s a most creative shootout attempt in the NHL. Hockey has a target test, so why can’t baseball have one? The pitchers could try to hit four targets set up on the corners of the plate, or the batters could try to hit targets set up around the field. Instead of a home run derby, try to see who can hit the ball the farthest. Bonus points for landing it in a stadium’s special feature, like the fountains at the K. What about a competition where everybody gets one strike to put the ball in play, and if they don’t they get eliminated? Or we could see whose got the best arm by having players try to throw the ball from right field to home to try get a runner going from third. There is a multitude of possibilities.

Finally, the NHL has announced (in their worst-kept secret, according to the commish) that Fenway will host the Winter Classic. While it won’t match the one in Buffalo (who plays the only other game that day), we can still hope for a blizzard with wind gusts of over 70 mph!  

Red Sox 1, Royals 0 Despite A Great Start From Brian Bannister and Jacoby Ellsbury Being Ejected At Home Plate On A Night In Which An NL Pitcher Threw A No Hitter

No Comment.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.