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.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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Thomas Skrlj/Getty Images
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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.