New TV deal guarantees Dodgers will be richer, but not that they'll win
The Dodgers might be 'the new Yankees,' with their massive new television deal that became more official Monday. But if the old Yankees taught us anything, it's that having the most money doesn't guarantee you'll win. That may not be good for the Dodgers, but it is good for baseball.
Eleven years ago, the Yankees launched their own network.
It was guaranteed to make them even richer. It was guaranteed to make baseball's financial playing field even less level.
It did just that.
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And the Yankees won one World Series in 11 years. They outspent everyone, once even spending $80 million more than any other team, and they won it all once in 11 years.
Something to remember as the Dodgers launch their own new network, guaranteed to make them even richer, guaranteed to make baseball's financial playing field even less level -- and not guaranteed to turn them into winners.
The Dodger network is somewhat more official now. The Dodgers and their partner, Time Warner Cable, announced it Monday morning, even though MLB has yet to approve it because of questions about how much of the reported $7 billion to $8 billion deal will be subject to revenue sharing.
But already, the Dodgers are spending bigger than ever.
Already, they're projected to be the first team since the 1998 Orioles to outspend the Yankees in a season. They'll be the first West Coast team since the 1991 A's to have baseball's biggest payroll.
Yes, the A's!
And, oh, they didn't win that year, either. Neither did the 1998 Orioles.
If spending the most equated to winning World Series trophies, baseball would have a problem. Fans of lower-spending teams would complain even more than they do now, and they'd be more justified in their complaints.
No, the best thing for baseball has been that the teams that spend the most often haven't won. In fact, while the top-spending team (always the Yankees) has won just one of the last 12 World Series, the team with the 11th-highest payroll has won twice in that time (and teams outside the top 10 in payroll have won six of the 12).
And the team with the second-highest payroll has missed the playoffs altogether four of the past five years, and nine times in the past 13 years.
That includes the 2000 Dodgers.
So, yes, seven or eight billion is a crazy amount of money, even spread over 25 years, as the Dodgers' Time Warner deal apparently is, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It might be enough to guarantee they'll earn their reputation as "the new Yankees."
But just as with the old Yankees, it won't guarantee they'll win.
If anything, their task will be tougher. They'll have more other teams with big money to contend with on the free-agent market (including, eventually, the Yankees). And the free-agent market might well continue to be underwhelming, because other big TV contracts (and the huge national TV contract) are allowing more teams to spend to retain their own stars.
The Dodgers spent big over this past year, taking on unwanted contracts from the Red Sox last August and making Zack Greinke rich in December. According to Baseball-Reference.com, their 2013 payroll projects to $217.2 million, which is more than any team has ever spent.
For all that, are you picking them to win the World Series this year?
Didn't think so.