Follow the money trail

Big-money baseball teams are getting less and less bang for the buck

Originally Published: March 23, 2014
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

Keating IlloJason Schneider for ESPNThe correlation between player pay and wins is weaker than it once was.

AS A METS FAN, it's bad enough that I have to watch my team struggle year after year (after year). But I also have to endure the bleating of their huge-spending-yet-never-satisfied crosstown rivals. My guys can't find a few dimes under the couch for Stephen Drew, and I have to listen to Yankees nuts worry that after signing Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka, their lineup might still have ... a couple of holes. My angst is echoed by fans all over. Baseball is a sport with no salary cap, the argument goes, so it's too easy for big-money teams to throw around their cash. Watch the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels and you get the feeling they can buy as many wins as they want.

But they can't. At least not anymore.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.