Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer, spoke about the sport's "enormous competitive balance" on an ESPN radio appearance Monday morning. As a guest on "Mike & Mike in the Morning," DuPuy responded to fan criticism that the newly crowned World Series-champion Yankees "bought" a title with their $200 million payroll. "I don't think that's a fair statement. Competitive balance has been a hallmark of the entire tenure of Commissioner [Bud] Selig," DuPuy said. "The numbers tell an awfully compelling story.
"Twenty of the 30 clubs have made the playoffs the last 10 years, when we've had eight different World Series champions." The show's hosts, Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, referred to having been "overwhelmed by the reactions coming in from people bemoaning the fact the Yankees have been able to buy a championship." Listeners apparently have alluded to New York's signings last winter of the three top free agents, pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira, all of whom played major roles as the Yankees won their first World Series since 2000. Adding that trio yielded a payroll approximately equal to the combined payrolls of the five teams on the bottom of the list. "There is too much disparity," DuPuy said. "We'd like to see that gap close. That's why we've been pushing revenue sharing. But if you look beyond the Yankees, that ratio is more compressed than people realize. "Every team wants to have faith and hope it can make the playoffs." DuPuy touched on a couple of ways in which baseball and its teams can continue to seek a more level playing field. "Mid-market teams are signing their young stars to long-term contracts and we'll see those young stars with those franchises for years, and they'll build around them," said DuPuy, referring to such players as Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies and Ryan Braun of the Brewers. "Second," DuPuy added, "all clubs agree that we need to reform the Draft. The idea is for the best players to go to the teams with the worst records, and that has not been the case." DuPuy was referring to the increasingly consequential global talent supply, which is not subject to the First-Year Player Draft. International players are free to sign with any team. "We need a world-wide Draft," DuPuy said, "to assure that the best go to the weaker teams." DuPuy said the negotiation in 2011 of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with players will afford baseball another opportunity to "look at our revenue-sharing formulas," while defending the way those disbursements are currently being used by receiving clubs. "We've had over $400 million transferred, and the rule is you have to use that money to improve your club. And the Commissioner tracks that every year," DuPuy said. On another subject, DuPuy dismissed a need to expand the use of instant replay, a subject that became a focus in the wake of a seemingly high number of incorrect calls by umpires in the postseason. "Our job is to get the very best umpires on the field and for them to get the calls right," said DuPuy, who added that some of the calls in the postseason were "frankly inexplicable."