Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Something's Brewing....

By now you've probably seen Brad Pitt's handsome face plastered in the Moneyball trailer, the film version of the 2003 Michael Lewis book.

The irony, people have said, is that Lewis's sabermetric concepts- a supposed equalizer for small market teams-  have been rendered useless by the fact that, well, rich teams can figure out the system, too.

The easy conclusion to make would be that small-market teams, barring a few single season exceptions here and there, are ultimately destined to fail. In this sport, money buys championships. If you don't have it, you don't win. Period.

Enter 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

Prince Fielder hopes to be King of the World (Series)
The Brewers, once consistent basement dwellers, are now primed to make the playoffs for the second time in four seasons. Not only that, the likely NL Central champs can possibly go deep into the post season, led by potential league MVP Prince Fielder.

Bonus? The Brewers look to be in good shape for next season, too.

So what's the deal? Are the media darling Brewers just another fluke, or are they proof that a small-market team really CAN compete long-term with the big boys?

Commish Bud Selig certainly hopes so. He's tried to stake his career on the equalization of the sport.

Although, let's be real....baseball's exclusion from anti-trust laws pretty much make equalization a null and void concept.

If Milwaukee has, in fact, figured out a way to beat the system of the haves/have nots, what will be their fate should the league decide to adopt a hard slotting draft system?

As it stands now, teams like the Brewers, Pirates, Marlins, Rays, etc can offer far and beyond what the league determines to be a slot price for draftees. This allows them to snatch up talent such as a Joe Mauer, Jeff Smardzija, and 2011 second-round pick Josh Bell (who said he wouldn't sign because he wanted to go play at Texas) who might otherwise decide to take their athletic abilities to the far-higher paying NFL and NBA. A hard slot might not only cost big talent prospects to other sports, but would allow teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies to stockpile money and snatch them up in late rounds.

Don't fear, though, baseball fans. Such a matter, sure to be discussed with the next CBA, is no cause for lockout concern. In fact, as one writer eloquently put it, "almost two decades of labor peace would put Selig on the Nobel shortlist if baseball weren't, you know, just a game."

So for right now, hats off to the Brewers who have become more than just schedule fillers and Miller Park. They may be small market, but for the near future, it looks like they're gonna be big-time players.

Sound off MLB fanatics. Will the Brewers be able to continue their recent success? Do small-market teams ever stand a real chance of longevity? Is Brad Pitt believable as a MLB GM? Hit me up and let me know!

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