The most valuable and most profitable teams in baseball are named/guessed at

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The annual Forbes franchise valuation article is out and, not surprisingly, the Yankees are considered the most valuable baseball team. They’re worth $2.5 billion, to be inexact. And, yes, while Forbes takes maybe the boldest stab at such things each year, pegging how much money closely-held businesses — many of them family businesses — which notoriously hide the ball as to financial matters make or lose this exercise is an inexact science.

With that caveat in mind, guess the most profitable. Give up? It’s the Cardinals, who an operating income of $65.2 million. I wouldn’t have guessed that given their market size and not-so-great TV deal, but there you go. More surprising: the Astros were second at $55.9 million. Which tells you what a low payroll will do for you. Indeed, going up and down the list of operating income and you see all manner of surprising things, actually. But then you have to remember that team owners do things like create management companies consisting of the owners and their families as a means of taking untold amounts of money from the club and putting it in their pockets, and you realize that these guys can make the numbers do anything they’d like.

Still, fun stuff. A nice snapshot, but not much more. There just isn’t enough data out there for anyone to check these numbers and the only people in a position to correct them — the owners themselves — wouldn’t dare reveal what they really make or lose.