The New York Yankees have assembled the most expensive roster in Major League Baseball each year since 1998. The Yanks' $201 million payroll this season is 77% larger than that of the Los Angeles Angels, their rivals in the American League Championship Series, whose payroll ranks sixth.
The Minnesota Twins rank 24th on the list, out of 30 teams. Despite beating the Detroit Tigers (fifth) in a 12-inning thriller a couple weeks ago to gain entry to the playoffs, the Twins were quickly dispatched in a three-game sweep by the Yanks in the divisional round. Similar fates befell Colorado (18th) and St. Louis (17th), which bowed out in four and three games, respectively.
For the first time since 2000, when the Yankees beat the Mets in a "subway series," there's no clear underdog left in the field. All the contenders are big-market, big-salary Goliaths. But you've got to root for somebody, even if it is the lesser evil.
Consider the Phillies (fourth-biggest market, seventh-biggest payroll at $113 million), the defending champs with a roster of big bats and capable arms. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have all grown into their roles with the club over the long haul, as opposed to the free-agent acquisitions (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Torii Hunter) that highlight other rosters.
And then there's how the Phillies won game four on Monday night. Down 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Rollins drove a 99-mph fastball from Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton into right-center for a two-run, walk-off double. Moments like that are why we watch these games until the end.