Splitting the Playoff Pie

Brian Walton looks into where the players' pool of playoff money comes from and where it goes.

The St. Louis Cardinals players reportedly met on Saturday afternoon to decide which players and support personnel will receive full or partial portions of the 2005 World Series, League Championship Series and Division Series Players' Pool.

 

This pool is created based on a negotiated percentage of the aggregated gate revenues from the playoffs. Specifically, it is sourced from 60% of the ticket money from the first three games of each division series, the first four games of each league championship series and the first four games of the World Series.

 

The pool is distributed to the teams based upon the following formula:

 

World Series winner

36%

World Series loser

24%

League Championship Series losers (two)

24%

Division Series losers (four)

12%

Non-Wild Card Second Place Teams (four)

4%

 

Note that even the second place teams that don't make the playoffs each receive 4%, which last year ended up being about $9K per share. So, at least these teams have something to play for, albeit small in comparison to their regular salaries or the winners' takes.

 

One might argue that a second-rate, second-place team like the San Francisco Giants, currently nine games under .500, don't really even deserve a sniff of playoff revenues. But, this is the system to which players and management agreed via the collective bargaining agreement.

 

The CBA that has been in place since 2003 will be renegotiated soon, as the current one expires after the 2006 season. However, it is not known whether the players' pool will be a point of contention between players and management.

 

Here is how the over $42 million in pool moneys were distributed in 2004. (Totals rounded)

 

2004

Team

Team total

Full share amount

# Full Shares

# Partial Shares

# Cash awards

WS winner

Boston

$15.2M

$223K

58

29

8

WS loser

St. Louis

$10.1M

$163K

51

35

16

ALCS loser

Yankees

$5.0M

$94K

46

26

1

NLCS loser

Houston

$5.0M

$101K

39

28

8

ALDS loser

Anaheim

$1.3M

$25K

43

17

9

ALDS loser

Minnesota

$1.3M

$27K

41

11

15

NLDS loser

Atlanta

$1.3M

$23K

42

20

38

NLDS loser

Los Angeles

$1.3M

$24K

44

22

3

2nd place AL

White Sox

$422K

$9K

36

18

11

2nd place AL

Oakland

$422K

$9K

40

23

4

2nd place NL

Philadelphia

$422K

$8K

45

11

11

2nd place NL

San Francisco

$422K

$9K

42

11

13

 

Primarily because of the breadth of their generosity, the amounts of both World Series participants' full shares, the Red Sox and the Cardinals, were the lowest since 1997.

 

Many are surprised when they see the number of shares voted upon per team, thinking only of the 25-man roster. However, any player who appeared in uniform and even those who spent the entire season on the disabled list, such as Mike Lincoln, for example, typically receive a cut.

 

For example, the 2004 Red Sox had 50 different players appear in uniform during the season who received money. This year, the Cardinals have seen 20 different pitchers take the field, as well as an equal number of position players, or 40 in total.

 

Those 40 Cardinals include those who have departed, such as outfielder Roger Cedeno, as well as those who made cameo appearances, such as Jim Journell and Bill Pulsipher. It would not be surprising to learn later that each of the 40 was voted something by the players who remain.

 

In addition to all the players who have passed through the clubhouse doors, there are many who support each team - training staff, strength and conditioning folks, equipment managers, clubhouse attendants, traveling secretaries, video coordinators, bat boys, not to mention coaches and advance scouts, probably even media relations - all of whom make a fraction of what most of the players do. The fact that the players want to share their take with those who make up their support structure is admirable and understandable.

 

The meeting itself is led by each team's Player Representative, who for the Cardinals is pitcher Ray King. The session is players-only, although the rules state that the manager can address the team if he chooses and participate in the discussion if the players allow him to remain.

 

The actual playoff pool amounts for 2005 will likely be made public in late November or early December.

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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