Marty Keeping Score for the New York Times, Again

Frequent readers of The Wages of Wins Journal might have noticed that Marty and Stacey are not contributing much anymore. Marty’s excuse is The New York Times. Today he has penned his fourth Keeping Score column for the nation’s leading paper. Given the difference between what The New York Times pays (a sum greater than zero) and what The Wages of Wins Journal pays (a sum equal to zero), readers looking for Marty’s words are in this forum are likely to be disappointed.

Although Marty’s words are infrequently seen here, the story he tells in “When it Comes to the World Series, Luck Conquers All” should be familiar to readers of The Wages of Wins. In Chapter Three we note that “playoffs are for fun, not for science.” Because the playoffs in baseball are such a small sample of games, drawing conclusions from these games is difficult.

Despite the sample size problem, Bud Selig still takes playoff outcomes – specifically the fact that seven different teams have won the title in the last seven years — as a sign that his policy of revenue sharing is working.

As Marty notes today, if revenue sharing had any impact at all it would be seen in reduced payroll disparity. Yet in the last five years the difference between the “haves” and ‘have nots” in baseball has actually increased (a similar point was made at the Sports Economist a few days ago, although the link is a bit hard to follow. The post is titled “Is Revenue Sharing Working” and it appeared on October 26.)

Still, the World Series title is currently rotating through the league. What explains this trend? Marty points to the increased participation in the playoffs. As baseball moved from two teams in the playoffs, to four teams in 1969, to eight teams in 1995, the ability of baseball’s best to take the crown has diminished.

Revenue sharing has nothing to do with what we see in the playoffs. All we are witnessing is how unpredictable baseball is over a very small sample.

Keeping with the theme of money and baseball, let me preview the next offering from Stacey. Stacey has also been absent from this forum for awhile, primarily because of his teaching responsibilities at the University of Sioux Falls. With the next entry in this forum he will make his return. His subject: Why we really, really believe that money cannot buy love in baseball.

— DJ

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