Exposing a competitive-balance fallacy

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The setup

The New York Yankees spent $201 million on their payroll in 2009, won 103 games and captured the World Series.

The Pittsburgh Pirates spent $48 million on their payroll, lost 99 games and missed the playoffs for a 16th consecutive season.

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts reached the Super Bowl. Indianapolis' metropolitan population ranks below that of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

The New Orleans Saints also made the Super Bowl. New Orleans' metro population is even smaller than Indianapolis' -- about the same size as Dayton, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; and Tulsa, Okla.

The resulting conclusion, offered up by pundits, columnists, bloggers, radio hosts and fans: The NFL has competitive balance; Major League Baseball does not.

But here's some shocking news: These experts are wrong. The NFL does not have better competitive balance than baseball.

If you can handle the truth, I'll explain why.