Trying to buy a World Series ring rarely works
Guess neither the bosses for the Miami Marlins nor the Los Angeles Angels got that eternal memo from the baseball gods: You can't buy a World Series championship.
You really can't. Not according to the past, and of all Major League teams, the Marlins and the Angels should know as much. Let's just say their current decision-makers are either oblivious to baseball history in general or their team history in particular.
Since free agency came along in the mid-1970s, only three sets of teams clearly bought their way to the top: The 1977 and '78 New York Yankees, the 1997 Florida Marlins (OK, we'll give the current Marlins bosses that one) and the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.
That's about 30-something teams that didn't.
Whatever the case, when the Marlins and the Angels weren't searching the farthest corners of their vaults after last season, they were reaching deep under their mattresses for as much cash as they could find to stuff their roster with talent.
The results so far?
Entering the second month of the season, the Marlins and the Angels are emphatically the worst teams in their divisions. Not only that, there is Albert Pujols, who is the poster child in the early going when it comes to ugliness for both teams.
Pujols was electric during his first 11 year in the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. As a result, when he became a free agent after last season, the Angels were so blinded by his brilliance that they gave him a contract worth $240 million for 10 years.
If that doesn't sound familiar, it should. Thirty years ago, the Angels gave another electric guy that generation's version of Pujols money, and his name was Reggie Jackson.
More on Mr. October in a moment.
Pujols wasn't even Mr. April for the Angels. After starting the season with 445 career home runs and a lifetime batting average of .327, Pujols finished the month hitting .217 with no homers and four RBIs.
In addition to Pujols, the Angels signed pitcher C.J. Wilson during the offseason to complete the biggest one-day spending spree in baseball history. We're talking a total of $317.5 million.
The Marlins can relate as much as anybody. Courtesy of added revenue through the building of a new retractable-roof stadium, the Marlins spent $191 million during the offseason on Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle, all productive players through the years.
Just not this year -- so far.
Reyes isn't anywhere near the spark plug that he was for the New York Mets. He sputtered to hit above .200 during most of the first month. Then there is Buehrle, owner of a perfect game and an average of 14 victories per season over 13 years. He has one victory out of five decisions on the pitcher's mound. Bell has been consistent, but only when it comes to operating as a disaster as a closer. He finished April with an ERA of 10.80.
You have to think that the historically potent Pujols will correct his issues before long, and Wilson has pitched well for the Angels more often than not. Plus, regarding the Marlins, Reyes has too many positive attributes not to get better, and Buehrle has been more effective than his record indicates -- and Bell can't get much worse.
Even so, the Marlins and the Angels have that baseball and team history against them, and such is especially true for the Halos.
This is the 30th anniversary of an Angels team that tried but failed to purchase a World Series ring by any means necessary. Remember? Those 1982 Angels weren't exactly home grown, with a slew of All-Stars who famously got their starts on other teams.
Fred Lynn. Ken Forsch. Don Baylor. Rod Carew.
Then, before that 1982 season, the Angels purchased perennial Gold Glove catcher Bob Boone from the Philadelphia Phillies, and they gave Jackson a shocking contract (well, for that time) that paid the future Hall of Famer an average of more than $1 million per season over five years.
Those Angels didn't win it all.
They couldn't even beat an inferior Milwaukee Brewers team in the American League Championship Series.
In fact, when you begin to sift through this century, you can't find a team that "bought" a World Series championship until you reach those 2001 D-backs.
Before that season, Arizona signed All-Stars Mark Grace and Reggie Sanders to free-agent deals to complement other big-money free agents that they already had, such as Randy Johnson, Steve Finley and Jay Bell. Those D-backs also acquired standout players Matt Williams and Curt Schilling in previous years through trades.
If you're thinking the Yankees of that era joined those D-backs as a dominant force through free agents and trades, think again. The core of those Yanks teams that won four World Series championships in five years through 2000 was born in pinstripes. Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Andy Pettitte. Bernie Williams. Jorge Posada.
More impressive, all but Williams in that group was around in 2009 when the Yankees grabbed another World Series.
As for the Yanks' archrivals from Boston, they ended their Curse of the Bambino with cash. Lots of it. Most of the key members of the Red Sox's World Series championships in 2004 and '07 were acquired through free agency, and none was bigger than Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.
It's just that, even though those Red Sox bought their way to a couple of titles, they don't quite fit with the 2001 D-backs. Those Red Sox were built over a longer stretch of time.
The 2003 Marlins became the antithesis of those Red Sox and those D-backs by shocking the Yankees in six games during the World Series. The sixth and decisive game was in the Bronx, where the Marlins celebrated with mostly home-grown players, ranging from A.J. Burnett to Luis Castillo to Miguel Cabrera.
That was in contrast to the Marlins' other World Series championship team in 1997, when the Marlins were the D-backs before the D-backs. The 1997 Florida squad was built with free agents such as Kevin Brown, Moises Alou, Al Leiter and Bobby Bonilla.
But with October glory in those Marlins' future, they were the huge exceptions.
Not that these Marlins care.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.