As one small-market general manager said recently, Major League Baseball is at its strongest when the big-money teams are thriving and driving interest in the largest pools of potential customers. Parity is nice, and it's a good thing when fans in Baltimore and Pittsburgh and Kansas City are reminded that winning is possible.
But MLB is better off in those times when Chicago's Cubs are threatening to break through, or when Los Angeles' Dodgers have a chance to be great. The business of the sport needs to be utilitarian at its heart: The most good for the most people.
Which brings us to the strange state of baseball in New York.
In one borough, the Yankees have been trying to win so much that they have spent themselves into a corner, and in another, the Mets don't seem to be prepared to do much of anything.
The other day, Mets GM Sandy Alderson appeared to be signaling to the fan base that the team's payroll -- which ranks in the lowest third of the majors -- is probably not going to grow for next season. This is what he said:
" [I]mproving a team isn't always a function of just dollars spent," Alderson said Monday while visiting veterans at the VA Hospital in Manhattan, prior to the Mets' 3-2 win against the Rockies. "Most of the improvement that came from the Mets this year had little to do with the overall [spending] so it doesn't equate. We'll have some flexibility. We'll be able to do some things. We just have to see what's there."
The truth is that the expectation within the organization is that the team's payroll will again be in the range of $82-85 million, with $36 million of that, of course, absorbed by the salaries of two players, David Wright and Curtis Granderson.