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PostHeaderIcon The Rich Getting Richer

Has anybody else noticed the terrible direction that Major League Baseball has taken?  And no, I’m not talking about the disturbing trend that every batter either hits a home run or strikes out nowadays.  I’ll save that for a future blog.  What I’m talking about is the increasing divide between the have’s and the have not’s.  I’m talking about the lack of parity that is hurting Major League Baseball.

True, the gulf between the have’s and the have not’s is not quite as extreme in the National League.  At least there is still some semblance of parity among the middle range teams in that league.  But you do have the Cubs and Dodgers who are perennial powers at the top and the Marlins, Reds, Padres looking pretty woeful at the bottom, all with 95 or more losses.

Now let’s look at the American League.  Literally, well before the All Star Break there were only 6 teams that still had a realistic shot at the 5 Playoff spots.  The other 9 teams were all well out of contention with several months still remaining in the season.  Realistically, most of those teams were out of the race right from Opening Day.  The Baltimore Orioles finished 61 games out of first place in the AL East.  That’s unbelievable.  You have 4 teams at the top who all won 97 or more games.   You have 4 teams at the bottom who all lost 95 or more games.  And I haven’t even mentioned the Cleveland Indians who finished 19 games ahead of the second place Twins and who appear posed to coast to division titles for the next several seasons.

It didn’t used to be this way.   Let’s look back at previous MLB standings to support what I’m saying.  In 2018 and 2017 there were 3 teams each year that won over 100 games.  That’s more 100 game winners in 2 years than there were in the previous 10 years combined!  Also in 2018 there were 3 teams that lost over 100 games.  That’s the first time that has happened since 2002!  In the previous 4 years combined, there was only 1 team that lost over 100 games.  This tend towards MLB becoming a league of the very powerful and the very weak is undeniable.

We all know that MLB is a copy cat league.  I believe it is because of the recent success the Astros have enjoyed after suffering through 3 straight 100 loss seasons between 2011 and 2013 that we now have so many teams stripping the cupboard bare.  But that strategy isn’t likely to work when you have 6 to 10 teams in full rebuild mode instead of just 1.

When did it become normal that every team not in Playoff contention at the trade deadline should become a seller?  How many more superstars  need to be funneled away from the weak teams and on to the top teams?  How much wider does this great divide need to grow?  Last year at the trade deadline the Tigers traded away their catcher, their closer, their ace starting pitcher, and their 2 best outfielders.  This is turning into the new normal.  Anytime a bad team has a good player at the trade deadline, the few top teams in the league start circling him like buzzards.

As I watch the Playoffs, I’m sorry, but they are leaving a bad taste in my mouth.  I’m starting to sound old and crotchety like my father, but what is happening here?  Let’s look at the Playoff teams and who is leading them.

Dodgers:  Their main headliner  on offense right now is Manny Machado.  He’s not a Dodger.  He’s a rent-a-player.

Cubs:  Where would the Cubs have been without Cole Hamels?  But he’s not a Cub.  Either is Daniel Murphy.

Yankees:  They are lead by Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Aroldis Chapman, JA Happ, Zach Britton, etc.  None of these guys are Yankees.

Astros:  On top of their rotation sits Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.  Closing out games they have Roberto Osuna.  Those guys aren’t Astros.

Red Sox:  Look at their entire starting rotation: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Nathan Eovaldi.  None of those guys are Red Sox.  As for their offense.  their MVP candidate is JD Martinez.  He isn’t a Red Sox player either.

Brewers:  Even a team like the Brewers is guilty of loading up with a bunch of imported talent.  You’ve got Mike Moustakas,  Gio Gonzalez, Lorenzo Cain, and mostly especially MVP candidate Christian Yelich.  Those guys aren’t Brewers.

Do you understand what I am saying?  Of course I know that TECHNICALLY all these players belong to their current teams.  I understand that these teams had to make trades or pay large sums of money to acquire these players, but it didn’t used to be this way.  This is not the way I remember baseball.  I understand that many times over the years there have been a few significant free agent signings at the trade deadline, but this whole process is on steroids now.  We didn’t used to have any Playoff teams where their entire starting rotation was made up of recent free agent acquisitions.

Next year where will Bryce Harper end up?  Where will Manny Machado go?  Most likely, the gulf between the rich and the poor will continue to grow.  It’s sad and speaking as a Tiger fan and as a baseball fan, it’s ruining the game I love.

 

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