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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Striving For A Level Playing Field: Parity in the NFL and MLB. MLB Edition

The twenty first century has been very kind to Major League Baseball. And in return, Major League Baseball has been very kind towards its fans. Allow me to elaborate.

A gross generalization can be made by saying that everybody in America is a football fan to some extent. Whether you watch games one through sixteen and all playoffs that ensue or you watch the Super Bowl for its commercials, you watch football. It’s just the way our country is. I have come to understand that the reason said NFL is so popular is because of its parity, a.k.a. “even playing field,” among other things. But what I hear the most is that the NFL is such a well-rounded association and that pretty much every team every year can be considered a playoff contender. Ok. Here’s where my argument begins.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Basement dwellers, right? Wrong.

These two lower market teams are not your average MLB playoff-caliber contenders. In 2006, both the D-Backs and Rockies finished with identical 76-86 records, landing them 12 games behind the National League West winning Los Angeles Dodgers. What a difference one year makes, especially in MLB.

Come 2007, not only are Arizona and Colorado in the playoffs as 90-win teams, but they are battling each other for a chance to play in the World Series. Arizona has been here before. Maybe some of the Red Sox fans remember October of 2001, when the combination of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling single-handedly beat the New York Yankees and officially ended the Evil Empire’s Dynasty for good.

Now, these are not your father’s D-Backs anymore. Heck, they’re not even Schilling’s or Johnson’s. These D-Backs belong to Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Stephen Drew and Livan Hernandez, most of whom you don’t know much about.

And speaking of players no one knows, here are a couple: Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jeff Francis. What do these four have in common? They all play major roles on the hottest team in the MLB playoffs right now, the Rockies of Colorado.

Arizona hasn’t been to the big dance since 2001, when they won it all; Colorado had a quick little sniff of the playoffs in 1995, before they were bounced quicker than you can say wild card. And that’s the point here. Since the Yankees Dynasty ended in October of 2001, MLB has seen six different teams win the World Series, and with Colorado and Cleveland in the mix in 2007, there’s a very good chance that we will see seven teams in seven years…and counting.

Teams like the Rockies, the Phillies (who got bounced in the first round this year), the D-Backs, and the Indians are the teams of tomorrow. They are 1a and 1b with powerhouse, high-payroll teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets and Los Angeles/Anaheim/California/West Coast Angels.

Since 2000, 21 of 30 MLB teams have made the playoffs, with the Yankees (8), the Atlanta Braves (6), the St. Louis Cardinals (6), and the Oakland Athletics (5) leading the way in appearances. After another first round disappearing act, the Yankees are in danger of being blown-up and rebuilt; the Braves are in a re-building process with young players and will now be without Gold Glove centerfielder Andruw Jones; the Cardinals’ manager and GM aren’t interested anymore and their impact players, minus Albert Pujols-are past their prime; and the Athletics are pathetic, with an almost transparent offense and a lack of star power, their annual trips to the playoffs seem farther and farther away.

This opens the door for even more parity. Teams like Seattle (who hasn’t been in the post season since 2001), Toronto (not since 1993), Milwaukee (close this year, but not since 1982, when they were still in the American league), and Tampa Bay (never been to the postseason, but they keep getting better) have a chance to close the gap between them selves and the competition and make MLB even more fun than it already is.

Nobody saw Arizona and Colorado being in this position in spring training, just look at the lines: Arizona, 50/1 odds; Colorado, 90/1 odds. Vegas didn’t give either a chance. We didn’t give them a chance. They proved us wrong and now they’re vying for a spot in the World Series. Just imagine. Coors Field, one mile high, World Series. It just gives you goose bumps, doesn’t it?

About the Contributor
Ryan Thomas served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2007-2008; 2008-2009