Check out this illustration the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is using for the NLCS


The image to the right was included in the National League Championship Series coverage provided by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including this column by Derrick Goold.

It’s quite funny. You have the Monopoly guy holding a bag of money, representing the Dodgers. He is denied access to the World Series trophy, adorned by a “Not For Sale” sign, by a muscular, defiant Cardinal wagging his finger.

True, the Dodgers have spent a lot of money on their 2013 squad — nearly $217 million, in fact. Seven players on the Dodgers’ payroll will have been paid at least $15 million for this season alone. However, the Cardinals aren’t exactly in a position to play the role of small-market underdog as if they were the Oakland Athletics. The Cardinals opened the season with a payroll of approximately $117 million, the 11th-largest among all 30 teams and nearly $50 million more than the A’s to whom they’re often compared.

What is true is that, of the four remaining teams, the Cardinals had the smallest Opening Day payroll. The Dodgers, Red Sox ($159 million), and Tigers ($149 million) ranked second, fourth, and fifth, respectively. Money doesn’t buy championships, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have it.

Giants fans will have to pay a surcharge to park at Athletics games

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Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.

This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.

Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.