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The Kansas City Royals, Karl Marx, and World Series Economics

The Kansas City Royals, Karl Marx, and World Series Economics

A spectre is haunting baseball–the spectre of the Kansas City Royals deposing baseball’s royalty.

The Karl Marx theory of the World Series wouldn’t see diamond have-nots rising up against the diamond haves until the passage of a revenue-sharing revolution. What does Marx know about baseball? Well, the hirsute highbrain never stepped inside a factory but that didn’t stop him from spinning elaborate theories about surplus value and the means of production. So Karl, like Bo, knows baseball–at least that’s what his devotees, who apply his wisdom to literature, history, and everything else, surely believe (the leader had the good sense to disassociate from such people: “I, at least, am not a Marxist!”).

So, rather than divide baseball teams by geography, we divide, as Marx instructed, by class. Breitbart Sports lists below the opening 2014 payrolls and records of all 30 MLB teams, showing where they would stand in divisions of teams with similar means. To avoid sounding like a poseur wuss, I’ve replaced the jargon of grad-school Marxists–bourgeoisie, proletariat, lumpen proles, etc.–with the titles of popular television shows characterized by the wealth (or lack thereof) of their characters to denote the divisions.

Looking at the standings of baseball’s Money Divisions, it turns out that economic determinism doesn’t determine and baseball’s rigid class structure is not so rigid.   

Downton Abbey Division

Dodgers ($241M) 94-68

Tigers ($163M) 90-72

Yankees ($209M) 84-78

Phillies ($180M) 73-89

Red Sox ($154M) 71-91


Beverly Hills, 90210 Division

Angels ($128M) 98-64

Nationals ($134M) 96-66

Giants ($148M) 88-74

Blue Jays ($129M) 83-79

Rangers ($132M) 67-95


Brady Bunch Division

Orioles ($105M) 96-66

Cardinals ($108M) 90-72

Brewers ($103M) 82-80

Reds ($112M) 76-86

Diamondbacks ($112M) 64-98


All in the Family Division

Royals ($91M) 89-73

Braves ($98M) 79-83

Padres ($90M) 77-85

White Sox ($90M) 73-89

Rockies ($100M) 66-96


Two Broke Girls Division

Mariners ($90M) 87-75

Indians ($83M) 85-77

Mets ($84M) 79-83

Rays ($82M) 77-85

Twins ($85) 70-92


Good Times Division

Pirates ($78M) 88-74

Athletics ($77M) 88-74

Marlins ($42M) 77-85

Cubs ($75M) 73-89

Astros ($45M) 70-92


Money generally helps. But it doesn’t predetermine outcomes. The payroll champions won the Downton Abbey, Two Broke Girls, and Good Times divisions. But the team (Royals) with lowest payroll also won the All in the Family division. All divisions, save for Two Broke Girls, saw teams compete in the postseason. Clubs (Phillies, Red Sox) enjoying Downton Abbey salaries finished with horrible records. April’s payroll does not determine whether a team’s players hear October “play ball!” Games are played on a field, not in the British Museum Reading Room. 

Let the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers tremble at the Royals revolution. The Royals have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a World Series to win.


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