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

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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.