I recently had the following question posed to me: Which is more important, the individual or the group?
Now, being who I am, I immediately thought of baseball. On teams with a high payroll and an expectation of success, it is considered uncouth to emphasize personal achievements, yet on teams with a recent tradition of failure, personal goals are all that players have to hope for, considering it might be their ticket out of the mediocre scene, via free agency.
For example, Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett is entering a contract year, yet every time someone asks about his status or his goals, he reiterates that it's not about him, but about the team. When asked who the number one pitcher was for the Sox this year, Jon Lester answered, "Well, we all are. You guys can label us whatever you want, but in my mind it takes five starters to win a championship."
The company line for most big market teams is the same way. When Dustin Pedroia won the 2008 AL MVP award, he was disappointed, because his team finished short of where it had in 2007: they were runners up to the AL Pennant, rather than World Series Champions, and it just wasn't good enough for the Sox second baseman.
On the other hand, in Kansas City, Zack Greinke just won the AL Cy Young award, and the Royals celebrated the his individual achievement. On a team where winning just isn't in the cards, individuals make a huge difference: the Royals sell more tickets on days when Greinke pitches, while the Red Sox will sell out no matter who is playing, be it Beckett, Lester, or even someone like Michael Bowden.
The same principle exists in society as a whole: those who are more privileged have the luxury of worrying about the big picture, while those from lower tax brackets must think of mundane personal things, like where they'll get the money to pay the bills. Is this fair? Not really. And anyway, who ever said life (or baseball) had to be fair?