Good morning! Start things off right with Oasis, and let's get to some of the good stuff happening around the interwebs.
Hardball Times' Matt Binder charts out spending by division for the last decade.
In each of the past 10 years, the teams that have spent the most on payroll in their division, or the second-most, have made the playoffs 49 times—27 times in the American League and 22 times in the National. During the same time, the bottom two teams in payroll spending have made the playoffs 16 times; 11 in the American and five in the National.
It's easy to be unbothered by MLB's payroll problems when your team sits at the top, to point to the occasional success of small payroll teams to justify the status quo. But there are problems.
I believe that MLB is closer to true parity than any other major sport (don't let the influence of sloppy sportswriters confuse the distinction between 'playoff randomness' and 'parity'). I also believe that payroll caps do more to increase the owner's profits than create a more balanced environment.
I'd like to see trade-able draft picks, a payroll tax that accounts for spending at the major and minor league levels, and (dream, dream, dream) opening the books so that we can understand how much money we're putting in the owner's pockets.
You know what I find to be the most astonishing part of the New York Yankees' Andruw Jones pursuit? Andruw Jones is 33 years old- 5 years ago you couldn't have imagined him not playing to 38 or 40, but now you have to wonder if he'll still be playing at 36.
On the other hand, his 2010 line (.230/.341/.486) isn't that far off from his career line (.256/.338/.488).
Chris Jaffe (one of the writers at Hardball Times who should be on your must-read list) put together his list of the 15 worst-ever endings to regular season games. The Yankee related games:
10. Luis Castillo drops Arod's pop up. While I understand how embarrassing and demoralizing it is to end a game that why, it also justifies my seemingly irrational insistence on watching the game until the very last out.
8. The 2002 All Star Game. Joe Torre managed the bullpen like, well, Joe Torre. The game was tied when both teams ran out of pitchers. Swisher would have pitched.
4. 1904: The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. Jack Chesbro won 41 games in '04 and nearly carried the Yankees to a pennant. But in the first game of the season ending double header (the Yankees needing the sweep), he threw it all away: with the score tied in the bottom of the ninth and a runner on third, he tossed a spitball to the backstop that allowed the pennant winning run to score.
1. Brewers 3B Don Money hits a game winning grand slam to beat the Yankees, but has it overruled because the first base ump had called time just before the pitch was delivered.
It's fun to imagine Money's feelings as he began his home run trot. It's considerably less fun to imagine his feelings when he heard the bad news. He went back and, predictably, lightning didn't strike twice. Milwaukee pushed one run across, but the Yanks won.