Anarchists' Brunch: The Aristocracy And The Proletariat

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We're just about 10 days away now. And as the season starts, and especially as it rolls on, we'll hear more and more about the strata of MLB, and especially the National League. The NL is where you find three really good teams in the Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers. Then a level of teams that could be good, could not be, or anything in between in the Cards, Brewers, Rockies, Giants, D-Backs, Phillies, Braves. And then there's the trash... and then there's the Mets, who will always exist in their own category/facility/dimension. It's pretty much the same in the AL, where the Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland, and Astros kind of exist on their own plane.

We'll hear about how it's not a very socialist set-up, there isn't much parity as three teams in each league could very well win 100 games, feasting on the innards of those below who are in the middle of a rebuild or lower market or whatever excuse they're using this week.

Maybe it's because I'm a fan of a team in the aristocracy, but I'm not sure I see the problem.

Sports, when they're good, have always had a clear delineation between their great teams and their not great teams. The NFL now disabuses us of this notion, with their "Any Given Sunday" mantra. And yet the Patriots have been to half the Super Bowls basically over the past 16 years and they're big box office. Not so long before that the Niners and Cowboys duked it out in the NFC and we didn't seem to mind. If the championship is going to be passed around like a joint, it kind of loses value, no?

The NBA has super teams now, and some people complain, but it always has. The whole league's revival was built on a rivalry between two great teams on each coast. You trace the recent history of the NBA through dynasties. It's like Rome or China. Celtics-Lakers to Pistons to Bulls back to Lakers to Spurs to wherever LeBron is to now the Warriors. And if the Rockets or Raptors or Celtics can get over them this year, it won't just be a title. It'll be a title and getting by the FINAL BOSS at the end that is Golden State.

To me, the Cubs and Dodgers having a third edition of their Cold War in the NLCS would be a good thing, even if it might get stale to others. It's something every baseball fan will remember forever. It defines an era. The same if the Astros and Yankees were to start their own on the other side.

And it's not like the Boston-New  York dynamic of the early part of the century, where it felt like no one else could compete financially. Everyone's got the money now. Everyone has the front office methods, or can. Everyone's been shown the way. If teams can't follow the path, it's because they simply don't want to or are too stupid or both. Just next year, the Phillies and Braves could very well pass behind the velvet ropes, even if the Nationals fall out of it when Bryce goes blue. The White Sox in two years very well might as well. The Twins soon enough. It's possible.

And when they do, the charm of it won't be that they're just good again. It'll be that they can go toe-to-toe with the Astros or Cubs or Dodgers. There's a status to it. It's not just rotated around like in the NFL. Look at how quickly things change there, and look no further than the Seahawks. They were the up and coming team, then they won, and now they're definitely on a death spiral. All of it was over five years. The nature of the game of course keeps teams from being on top for more than a couple seasons, unless you have the dark arts like New England.

I like eras. I like dynasties. So I'm not going to shed too much of a tear that the same teams are so separated. We were at the bottom once. Now we're here.

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  • Cubs FO office has done the job this off season building on the margins and developing up the middle defense. Happ right now is at or a tad above average and over the season could grow to be much above average. SP'ing is the best as it stands in ST'ing to be the best full rotation in MLB, only time will tell if it results in the best. Bullpen is improved, they need one more dominant arm and will be best in baseball. There is the run prevention. Run production is still too much HR oriented but with seven out of eight starters poised to hit 200 HR's it is what it is, lots of OF'ers with their backs facing home plate.

    I like Bote, Caratini, Zagunis and Freeman as depth, but bullpen still needs a bit more.

    As for the races, there will be surprises because so many are so weak, though I think the Cardinals are heading into a lot of windy days while Brewers keep getting a tad better.

  • I think you left out a key point: the disparity in payrolls, which doesn’t occur in football and basketball. The Cubs had a $170m payroll last season, while the second-place Brewers had a $63m. The Patriots didn’t spend $100m+ more than the second place team. In fact, the Cubs are almost unique among big market teams in not having to deal with another big spending team in their division. They have an unfair competitive advantage.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    1. STL 2018 payroll is projected to be 13th highest, about 10% above league average.
    2. The AL West has 4 teams above average: LAA(7th), SEA (8th),HOU (10th), TX (12th)
    3. The AL East has three: BOS (1st), NYY(6th), TOR(9th)
    4. AL Central has four teams bunched just under league average and Jerry Reinsdorf.
    5. NL West has SF (2nd), LAD (4th) and COL( 14th)
    6. NL East has WAS (5th) and NYM (11th)
    I take umbrage with you last sentence. First off, Cubs situation is similar to that of all NL divisions. Second, choosing to have a higher payroll certainly doesn't create an unfair advantage. Nothing is stopping STL, or anyone else from signing Cobb and Holland, or anyone else they passed over. If anything STL has an advantage getting small market draft picks, which could develop and save them money, even though they have one of the largest attendance and richest TV deals. Their revenue is definitely not small market despite the population of the St. Louis metropolitan area.
    And lastly, payroll does not automatically buy success. Astros spent below league average last year. Blue Jays, Tigers, Giants, Rangers, Orioles, Angels, Mariners, Royals, and Mets all spent above league average last season and also spent October on the sofa.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    They had that unfair competitive advantage for 108yrs and it didn't help. It's hard to buy a championship. It's takes a complete organization.

  • I'm a generous and sharing person in my own life, but I don't feel even a little guilty about indulging in a bit of gluttony when it comes to my Cubs appetite. I've been famished for 40 years, many fans much longer, and I'm reveling in the current feast.

    In reference to a line you wrote. Sam, I could see fans in the rest of the NL Central getting antsy and jealous, even beginning to sing a tune from Little Feat:

    "Roll another one,
    Just like the other one.
    You been holding on to it,
    And I sure would like a hit!".

    As a Cubs fan, I've endured four decades of little more than the occasional contact high. I don't mind if we bogart.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    The original version was actually written by Fraternity of Man, and that's the tune I grew up with. I try to give proper credit. My bad.

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