In October Baseball, You Can Pay Peanuts and Win

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By Stacey Shick

It has already been a pretty good week for baseball fans. Division champions were decided in the final days of the season, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won the first Triple Crown in 45 years, and Major League Baseball completed a new eight-year national television contract that will allow fans better access to games.

It has also been a pretty good week for fans of the little guy, with the Oakland Athletics, the team with the lowest payroll in the American League, making the playoffs as the winners of the AL West division. On opening day, the team owed its players $55,372,500, according to USA Today, and had an average salary of $1.84 million.

Compare that with the New York Yankees, the winners of the AL East division, who had an opening day payroll of $197,962,289 and an average salary of $6.19 million. Only one player on the A's earns more than the Yankees average: outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who was an all-star in Cuba before defecting in 2011.

The A's, of course, are the baseball team best known for winning on a budget, as popularized in Michael Lewis's book "Moneyball" and the Brad Pitt movie of the same title.

The Yankees are the baseball team best known for making the game a luxury product, with a $1.5 billion stadium, a $30 million player (Alex Rodriguez) and a $70 piece of sod for sale in their online shop.

Today, baseball will unveil its new playoff system with two high-stakes wild-card games, the winner of each advancing to this weekend's divisional series. Should the A's and the Yankees both win in that round, they would face each other in the AL championship series. As a fan of a small-market team, I'd be cheering for David against Goliath.

(Stacey Shick is an editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View at the Ticker.

-0- Oct/05/2012 18:57 GMT