George Will

New York, the world's financial capital, takes money very seriously. And New York has been the intellectual epicenter of political liberalism, which has consistently preached, and has consistently disproved, the efficacy of pitching large sums of money at social problems. In the city where America's welfare state was first imagined and implemented, the entitlement mentality bred by the welfare state includes the assumption that the Yankees are entitled to be in the World Series, which they have not been since -- gasp -- 2003.

There still are revenue and spending disparities between baseball teams that are impossible between NFL and NBA teams because those leagues have salary caps and more centralized revenue sources. Nevertheless, when the Tigers dispatched the Yankees that Saturday, baseball was guaranteed its seventh different World Series winner in seven years. There never have been seven consecutive Super Bowls, or seven consecutive NBA championships, won by seven different teams.

Baseball's supposed "golden age" of the 1940s and 1950s was not so golden outside New York. In 1947 the Yankees won the American League pennant and beat the Dodgers in the World Series. In 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953 the Yankees were World Series winners over the Dodgers, Phillies, Giants, Dodgers and Dodgers, respectively. If the Phillies had not beaten the Dodgers in the 10th inning of the last game of the 1950 season, every World Series game for five years would have been played in New York. And if 103 wins, which usually are enough to win the pennant, had sufficed in 1954 (the Indians won 111, an American League record for a 154-game season), the Yankees would have won 10 pennants in a row, because they also won in 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958.

Great Yankee teams have been good for baseball. In the 1930s, one of every four tickets sold to an American League game was for a game involving the Yankees. And this year, when the Yankees were drawing 4,200,518 fans to Yankee Stadium, they also played in front of 3,080,290 million on the road. But improved competitive balance is one reason why, for the third consecutive year, MLB set an attendance record (76,043,902), and why today is MLB's golden age, even west of the Hudson River.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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