Parity is a double-edged sword for Major League Baseball

Parity may be great for competition but with no Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies in the play-offs, Major League Baseball's television ratings are down.

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Parity has a price, and for Major League Baseball, it comes in the form of declining television ratings and a lower profile in October.

Even as one of the most entertaining and competitive post-seasons in some time continues, baseball is aware of the problem.

When the Boston Red Sox failed to make the post-season and both the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were knocked out in first-round upsets, baseball could rightly claim that it had achieved total competitive balance.

If the three biggest-spending teams in the game could not win a play-offs round while budget-conscious teams such as Tampa Bay could qualify for the post-season and some modest-spending clubs could reach the two League Championship Series, then surely parity has arrived.

In fact, parity has been here for a while, with six different franchises - the White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees and Giants - winning the six World Series beginning in 2005.

Fans often say that they like parity and complain when the "same old teams" dominate in October. But the truth is that they are less likely to watch when lower-profile clubs go deep in the play-offs.

It is poor timing for baseball, too, as many of its national TV deals are winding down and negotiations for new contracts loom on the horizon.

Baseball can say that competitive balance is a good thing for the game, and it is, but the same cannot always be said for its effect on the bottom line.