There was a pretty solid article by Mike Hunt in today's JS about the Cubs' underdog image.
While it's true that no culture loves an underdog quite like Americans, how then to explain the general sentiments attached to the exhilarating National League Central race?
Strip away the mythology, and they are Goliath. Massive market. Big payroll. Big-name stars and free agents. A marquee manager who earns more than the entire Brewers' 100-plus-homer infield combined.
Yet, as Hunt notes, the national media appears to be rooting for the Cubs in the National League Central race. Well, to be fair, the national media is openly mocking the ineptitude of the NL Central as a whole first, and rooting for the Cubs second. The Cubs have done quite the job of defining themselves as cursed underdogs and lovable losers. But the truth is, this pennant race has the makings of a true underdog story, but the Brewers are the underdogs. The Brewers are David to the Cubs' Goliath; App. State to the Cubs' U of M; Rocky to the Cubs' Clubber Lang (I'm not sure they have a trainer either); 300 Spartans (and some Thespians) to the Cubs' million river-drinking-Persians; Honey Roy Palmer to the Cubs' Buck Holland, Slim Busby, Billy Hargrove (played by a young James Caviezel), Sam Lester, Hambone Busby, Sunny Hawkins, Robby Gillon, Frank Mangrum, Tank Miller and Hammerhead Haggan. Make no mistake, if you want to root for the underdog, you gotta root for the Brew Crew in the NL Central. Here's why:
The Cubs' have a payroll of $100,000,000.00.
The Brewers have a payroll of $70,000,000.00.
And although a difference of $30 million is significant, it's actually more drastic than that. If you look at the key players on the Brewers, most of whom are younger than me, they make close to the league minimum. For example, a typical Brewers starting infield would look like this:
Braun @ $395,000
Fielder @ $415,000
Hardy @ $400,000
Weeks @ $400,000
The Cubs' key players -- Lee, Soriano, Ramirez, Zambrano -- each make around $10 million.
This is clearly a big money team vs. a small money team.
The Cubs play in a market of 9,157,540 people (shared with the Whitesox I suppose).
The Brewers play in a market of 1,689,572 people, the smallest in Baseball.
This is clearly a big market team vs. a small market team.
The Brewers have 17is players on their roster that they drafted and developed within the franchise.
The Cubs are made up mostly of high priced free agents.
The Brewers are the little guy in this fight, and there's nothing any goat or any Bartman can do about it. All that said, I fully believe the Brewers will come out on top. As Mike Vick would say if he were more articulate and up to speed on cheesy cliches, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.