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Magic v. Midas

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And how could we forget the inestimable Richard Griffin? His latest column notes that Alexis Rios' contract could well put the Jays over the $100 million mark for payroll. Griffin argues that in 2003, the Jays won 86 games with a $51 million dollar payroll and that, therefore, there is no excuse for the Jays continuing failure to reach the playoffs, now that their payroll will be more than twice that.

Of course, Richard Griffin's article makes no sense. It's like saying that since my mom bought her first car (a Pinto!) in 1979 for $300, I have no excuse for not getting a Beamer now for $700. What Griffin ignores in his haste to bash J.P. Ricciardi, his favourite pastime, is that while the Jays total payroll has crept steadily up, so have league payrolls as a whole. The Jays payroll ranked 8th in the A.L. last season at $95 million, right in the middle of the pack. In 2003, with $51 million, they ranked 10th in the A.L., not a huge difference. If the Jays stayed at a $50 million dollar payroll, they'd have been second-to-last in the A.L., ahead of only Tampa, who won 66 games last season. That's not a spending spree, that's just staying competitive.

Now I'm not saying that J.P. should be off the hook if the Jays go .500 again this season. Obviously, it's his job to get the team to the playoffs. But salaries in baseball have obviously gone up considerably since the 2003 season, so Griffin just isn't comparing apples to apples. When sub-league average starters are pulling in $10 million a season, is there really anything extravagant about a $100 million payroll? I'm not an advocate of spending wildly, but I think Griffin is just grasping at straws for an excuse to criticize J.P.

Incidentally, our very appropriate title is brought to us by a track off the excellent Random Spirit Lover, a great 2007 album by Sunset Rubdown, sort of a side project for the Quebecois singer/songwriter Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade.