I don’t mention this often enough, boys and girls, but you all are really great. May was a fabulous month for HardballTalk. We set our all-time record for traffic and tripled the clicks we had in May 2009 (back when the blog went by the name “The Quarrymen”).
We’ve got a lot of great stuff rolling out in the coming weeks and months. One of those things is a redesign of the joint which will help keep older content from getting buried like it currently does and will make our other NBC blogs more accessible for everyone. Yes, some of you will moan about it at first because people have moaned about every redesign since the invention of the Internet, but I can assure you, this one will make the blog better.
Another change will be the addition of some video content featuring a pasty, bespectacled bald guy with a nasally Midwestern voice hating on all of your favorite teams. Sure, that will likely cause us to lose all of our traffic gains but it will hopefully be fun anyway.
But let’s be clear about something: everything we’ve been able to do with HardballTalk has been a function of one thing: you guys coming back and spending your free time and mouse clicks on us.
We realize you have a lot of choices when it comes to blog surfing, and we’d like to thank you for flying HardballTalk.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?