Money Doesn’t Guarantee Titles

January 5, 2009, 10:10 AM HST · Updated January 5, 2:41 PM
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By Fred Guzman

Money, the Beatles wisely advised so many years ago, can’t buy you love.

And, as we have repeatedly found in the most free-market of our sports leagues, money can’t buy baseball championships, either.

Go no farther than the New York Yankees.  The sport’s freest-spending franchise routinely carries a an annual payroll of $200 million, but it’s been eight years since the Yankees last won a ring.

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During that ensuing championship drought in the Bronx, such smaller-market teams as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have won titles and the likes of Tampa Bay and Colorado has reached the Fall Classic.

A more recent example of how money alone doesn’t guarantee titles is the Detroit Tigers.

Many in the media and fans instantly conceded Detroit the AL Central crown after acquiring both slugger Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis.  Those signings pushed the Tigers’ payroll to $137 million and slightly over the luxury-tax limit.

It took a while for Cabrera to get going.   He finished with team highs of 37 homers and 127 RBI, but by the time he got hot the Tigers were dust.

The Tigers got of to a 2-10 start and staggered to a 74-84 mark and a last-place finish in the five-team division they were supposed to dominate.

Willis was a disaster.  He appeared in just eight games, averaging three innings per start while compiling an 0-2 record with anastronomical 9.38 ERA.  Willis earned a
demotion to the minors for a significant part of the season.

So don’t concede the Yankees yet.   All together now:  Money can’t buy you love … or guarantee a championship.

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