Money can't buy you love, or at least that's what the poet said. If Sir Paul had been a baseball fan, back in the day, he might have pointed out that money can buy you lots of other things like an Aston Martin DB5 he once drove, but it can't necessarily buy a World Series.
One hundred and sixty-three games later, after that one-game addition to determine the American League wild card spot, the playoff teams are set: four from the National League, and four from the American League. The New York Yankees, with the largest payroll in organized baseball at more than two hundred million dollars per year (not including A-Rod's legal defense fund), will be watching this years postseason from home. Very nice homes, to be sure, but I'm guessing that Vernon Wells' pleather couch won't be as comfortable for him as a seat on the bench of the dugout at Yankee Stadium.
Instead, the American League will be sending Tampa Bay, with the twenty-eighth lowest payroll along with the Oakland A's in twenty-seventh place out of thirty major league teams. Monster salaries are not the leading indicators of baseball success. The Los Angeles Dodgers may want to argue this point, since they lead the majors in a number of categories, including salary. Across town, their American League counterparts the Angels, are sporting the number seven batch of big paychecks for baseball players. The Angels might take notice that they are being paid, as a team, twice as much as the Oakland A's and they are going to be spending the next few weekends cleaning out the garage and thinking about what might have been.
Of course, this is professional sports and all things will eventually turn. The players that Oakland turns into a team to win their division will likely show up as stars on some other GM's map for next year. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have to decide whether to give everyone a raise for making it to the playoffs for the first time in this new century, or starting fresh with a bunch of no-names. It may make stirring entertainment, but fans seem to like the star power. Those great big salaries get paid for by great big attendance at home games. You could call it Moneyball, or you could call it supply and demand.
If the A's or the Rays win the World Series, we can all take pride in the victory of the common man. Keeping in mind, of course, that those common men are still making at least $480,000 a year. To play baseball. Go A's.