Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bold Predictions for the New Year

A new year means a fresh start for every team. Hope springs eternal in 2009 for fans of even the most abysmal sports teams. By year's end we will have four franchises crowned as champions of the world. Instead of telling who those teams will be, I did a little research and I'm going to tell you who they will not be. Call me crazy sports fans, but the Yankees, Flyers, Knicks, and (I know I'm going out on an extreme limb here) Raiders will not be champions of their sport in '09.

You're probably saying to yourself, "Any idiot knows the Raiders aren't going to win the Superbowl. They didn't even make the playoffs." I know the Raiders did not make the playoffs, though I am extremely thankful for their huge win over the Bucs in week 17, but hear me out. My point is this. These 4 teams have the highest salaries in their respective sport this season. Having the highest salary in each sport almost never translates to winning a championship that year. Spend crazy owners just keep throwing money at players in hopes that amassing enough talent will win them a title. Not so. Here comes the evidence.

It is not a mystery that the Yankees have had the highest payroll in baseball for many years in a row. The last time they didn't was in 1998 when the Orioles took the cake. However, since then the Yankees payroll has begun to skyrocket. Now we all know that they had the highest payroll and won the World Series in '99 and 2000, but in those years they only paid on average about 5 million dollars more per year than any other team. Since the dawn of the new millenium the Yankees payroll has taken off, paying over 70 million dollars more than any other team in several years. Of course, since 2000 the Yankees fan have had no rings to gloat about.

In basketball, the hapless Knickerbockers have had the highest payroll 6 out of the last 8 years, and the only thing they have been remembered for in those years is chanting "Fire Isaiah" at the Garden. The other two high payrolls in the 00's in the NBA belonged to the 06-07 Suns and the 02-03 Blazers who both came close, but ultimately failed in their quest for a title.

The NFL has one of the few bright spots as the 2006 Colts were the NFL's highest paid team, and brought home the Super Bowl in January of '07. Other than that however, we see teams like the Redskins, Raiders and Cardinals that have not enjoyed much success at all in the new millenium.

Finally, in the NHL the 01-02 Red Wings took home the Stanley Cup, but besides them the 07-08 Avalanche, the 06-07 and 05-06 Devils, the 03-04 Red Wings, and the 02-03 and 00-01 Rangers failed to hoist Lord Stanley's cup.

In basketball, football and hockey there is much more equality in team salary than there is in baseball. But there is something to be said for the team with the highest payroll rarely winning a championship in each sport. Do the players feel the pressure of being on their respective sport's "highest paid team"? Does bringing in high priced talent create jealousy among younger and minimum salary players? Do higher paid players just not work as hard? Is there something to be said for sticking with a nucleus of players who have come up through the ranks together? Does chemistry really make a difference? When looking at the success of the teams with the highest salary over the last 8 years, I would answer yes to all of these questions. Good luck in 2009 to the Flyers, Yankees, Knicks and Raiders. You're gonna need it.

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