One month of the baseball season has passed. Albert Pujols has as many home runs on May 2nd as he did on December 2nd. The Dodgers are in first place, this time not just for being one of the Major Leagues’ most mismanaged teams. Who would have predicted this would be the case? Maybe it has something to do with Magic? Probably not, unless Mike Scioscia has achieved wizard status for making Bobby Abreu magically disappear.
On the other side of the country, a team taking a cue from the Angels experimented with a place-name change in addition to an increase in payroll spending but has found no less refuge from early season struggles. The Miami Marlins have been harpooned by the rest of the National League. Like the Angels, who spent hordes of money on Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and others in the offseason, Miami went fishing in the offseason and reeled in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. However, if it weren’t for the glare of the bright orange hue on their new duds (emphasis on duds), they might be forgotten altogether having been marooned in the basement of the NL East with an 8-14 record.
Baseball can oftentimes be a fickle game. Over the last two decades, payroll spending has increased dramatically, teams gobbling up high-priced, under-producing veterans at the rate that Mitt Romney acquires suits. The results have been mixed. The 1990s Atlanta Braves built talented teams from within, yet won only one title. The New York Yankees used a lot of homegrown players to capture four titles in five years. Yet, they found that trying to buy a championship with high-money castoffs resulted in the team handing over a giant novelty check’s-worth of payroll penalties to the Commissioner’s office with only one World Series win to show for their troubles since their once budget eclipsed $100 million after 2000. Meanwhile, the Marlins essentially won two titles on credit in 1997 and 2003 while the Angels, White Sox, Giants, and others found a way to win a title without necessarily breaking the bank.