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By David J. Berri

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The Wages of Wins: Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport

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Over 162 games the Mariners were clearly better than the Yankees. Over five games, the Yankees were better. Which sample should we believe? If we are the Blue Ribbon Panel, apparently we should take a sample with five observations. To illustrate the problem with the post-season, consider the success of the Oakland A’s from 1999 to 2004. Over this time period the Oakland A’s won more regular season games than every franchise except the Yankees and Atlanta Braves. Both the Yankees and Braves consistently placed toward the top of baseball’s payroll rankings.

It is entirely possible that Selig is motivated to believe the economics of baseball are rigged against his Brewers and for this to be true. We mention the issue of motives to a make a point about how arguments are often evaluated. Politicians often cite motives, rather than argument, in refuting the claims of an opposing person or group. An environmental group argues that a policy will damage the environment. Rather than take the time to assess the validity of 34      ’   this argument, proponents of the policy in question attack the motives of the environmentalists.

3? In this table we again replicate the Blue Ribbon Panel analysis, but this time we look at the five seasons after the Blue Ribbon years, or the 2000–04 seasons. 3 we see teams toward the bottom of the payroll rankings finding success in the post-season. Thirty teams participate in Major League Baseball today. In 2001, Arizona was ranked eighth in payroll yet won the World Series. In 2002 the Anaheim Angels5 were ranked fifteenth and won the fall classic. In 2003 the Florida Marlins won the World Series with a payroll that ranked 25th out of 30 teams.

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