The Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees have played meaningful games in the past in the Wold Series — 1939, 1961 and 1976, which was a four-game sweep by the Big Red Machine — but not even a miraculous return in the next few days by Masahiro Tanaka would make the upcoming three-game series between the two teams in New York carry the same weight as previous clashes for all the marbles.
Still — even without Tanaka — the series may mean more to the Reds than just another three-game series against another team.
On paper, there shouldn’t be any way for a team with the market size of the Reds to compete with a super-sized one like that of the Yankees. With payroll disparity rampant in major league baseball in the absence of a salary cap system, the Reds have managed to live beyond their means under the ownership of Robert Castellini and put a contender with growing payroll on the field for the past five years.
And yet the $112-million payroll of the Reds this year falls well short of the $208 million originally committed in 2014 by the Yankees.
The $96-million difference alone between the teams is more than the total cost the Reds are paying this year for their starting eight position players (including the injured Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips), their starting rotation and their closer.
Imagine how much better the Reds would be with another $96 million to spend by an ownership with more baseball sense than money.
Despite the lopsided playing field created by payroll in baseball, the Reds are nevertheless a good team capable of beating the best teams money can buy, especially when much of that payroll excess in the Yankees’ case has been a waste of money.