PCP: Should there be a salary cap?

Written by : , Category : wdltvvre , Date : September 17, 2020 , No Comments on PCP: Should there be a salary cap?

first_imgBleachLike McDonald’s vs. Burger King, Jordan vs. Kobe and George vs. Fred Weasley debates, there is an obvious answer to the question of whether baseball should have a salary cap — but unfortunately, reasonable minds and Bud Selig continue to disagree.Why a column about a question that really deserves a book, or, at the very least a Bill Simmons-length response?Well, it might have something to do with the spring football game being more boring than a Bret Bielema inspirational speech to wealthy alumni and a dearth of relevant sports content to opine on for the UW campus.More importantly, however, my worthy foil Sean Kittridge and I will solve a billion dollar question in 700 words, because Forbes recently released its annual “Business of Baseball” article, and that makes this somewhat relevant.In the release of Forbes’ numbers, a painfully obvious truth was confirmed: the Yankees are hella rich. The pinstriped devils earned $441 million in revenue last season — $173 million more than the second place Mets and $257 million more than the No. 15 (exactly middle of the pack) Washington Nationals. And these numbers account for the millions the Yankees chipped into the pot for revenue sharing.Now some people like to point out that, yes the Yankees earn more than most island nations’ GDPs, but they pump the revenue back into the team, thus earning every success they have.Well, as Sports Illustrated columnist and baseball savant Joe Posnanski astutely pointed out, the Yankees spend virtually the same percentage on baseball operations as any other team. The league average for revenue spent on payroll is 46.6 percent. The Yankees have doled out $206 million on payroll from their $441 million revenue figure… or, in more comparable terms, 46.9 percent.So no, the Yankees are not “trying harder” than any other team. They have just taken advantage of a huge city that allows them to charge an average of $67 per ticket, the YES Network, which may as well just print money and a global brand that has even LeBron James — an Ohio native — publicly supporting them.This, by definition, is a competitive advantage. The Yankees are not smarter than other clubs. They do not draft better, scout talent better or run a more efficient business. They absolutely do not try harder. They have just taken advantage of what has been given to them by a gigantic city and name brand — an advantage they ride to wins year after year. An advantage that affects all other 29 teams — see CC Sabathia signing away from the Brewers — and not just the AL East. And this competitive advantage is why baseball needs a salary cap, or at the very least, much more severe revenue sharing.By their very nature, we want sports to show the victor of two competitors on completely equal ground. Each team in baseball gets 27 outs, nine players and $8 beer in the stands. Even the inherent competitive disadvantages — home field and the use of umps instead of K-zone — even out over the course of a season.Let us take a look at Billy Beane. Once considered the top G.M. in MLB, Beane hasn’t fielded a winning team in three years, and likely could be on his way to four consecutive losing seasons. Is this because Beane has lot his touch? Or is it because the big market clubs (Yanks and Red Sox) just adopted his strategy, and with more money were able to exploit it? Beane was able to win for a few years, but the competitive disadvantage eventually caught up, and forced his small market team back to the bottom of the barrel.Want further proof that the majority of sports fans prefer completely equal competition? Look no further than the National Football League. The country’s most popular professional sports league thrives because the Green Bay Packers have the same resources as the New York Football Giants and the Dallas Jerry Jones’.The NFL works because every team but the Lions has a chance for the playoffs, where the Pirates, Reds and Royals haven’t had that hope in quite some time.Baseball can survive and even thrive with this current system. It will never be America’s game again, however, until the Brewers and the Yankees have the same opportunity every single year.KittridgeIf baseball’s service time standards — such as Super 2 status and Rule V eligibility — are confusing, then understanding MLB financial issues is like reading William Burroughs in Klingon.However, at the most basic level, one simple question can guide us toward correct, moral answers (think of it as Baseball’s Razor): Do the owners approve of it? If they do, then it’s bad. Just look at the Reserve Clause, the death of the true doubleheader and that time they put Spiderman logos on the bases. Those were not only detrimental for baseball; they were borderline evil.So when some 5-foot-10 bespectacled friend of yours asks you for your thoughts on a potential salary cap, ask yourself that question, because next to $15 stadium beers and dead puppies, there’s nothing MLB owners would enjoy more than a salary cap.Most pro-cap peons begin their mouth-foaming by cursing the existence of the Yankees. After all, the Yankees have an Opening Day payroll of over $210 million dollars, 27 championships and the world’s most annoying fans this side of “Glee.” But team payroll, when looked at on its own, tells us very little, and instead needs to be put into a larger context.As Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski noted in his April 19 blog post “Forbes and Yankees,” George Steinbrenner’s franchise generated $441 million in revenue in 2009. Of that $441 million, the Yankees spent 46.9 percent of it on payroll, according to Posnanski’s math skills. The league average for percentage of revenue spent on payroll is 46.6 percent.Obviously, what makes the Yankees the outlier is that their revenue is considerably higher than anyone else in baseball (the New York Mets are second with $268 million). But a salary cap isn’t going to seriously curb the Yankees’ revenue; it’ll simply lower what percentage of that is spent on players, and by extension make the Steinbrenner clan that much richer.With a cap, the Yankees may only need to use 20 percent of their revenue on payroll and let that other 26.9 percent seep back into the “Gulfstream V races” fund. Professional athletes may be pretty well compensated, but they’re still the workers in this relationship, and it’s hard to advocate so strongly for increased employer-employee income gap.In addition, as long as we’re dwelling on the Evil Empire, it’s important to note that the Yankees are largely responsible for other teams raking in as much cash as they do. Not only do the Yankees contribute tens of millions to the revenue sharing pool each year, but they also pay a luxury tax for breaking MLB’s soft payroll cap — which fluctuates yearly.Last season alone, the Yankees paid over $25 million toward the luxury tax, and have thrown down $175 million in the seven years of the tax’s existence, according to BizOfBaseball.com. The rest of baseball, by comparison, has only paid around $16 million.Of course, this isn’t just about the Yankees, and writing about those pinstriped cretins for 400 words should make even the burliest man weep in the shower. Salary cap proponents also look to the Red Sox as destroyers of the natural order of sport, and ignoring that they were just swept by the cash-strapped — and AL East leading — Tampa Bay Rays, it seems to make sense. The Red Sox, like the Yankees, spend a good deal of money. And they’ve won two World Series in recent memory.But the Red Sox aren’t simply spending like Hank Steinbrenner at Cruisin’ Chubby’s; they’re stepping ahead of the curve. Theo Epstein brought sabermetric godfather Bill James on board to hopefully obtain a statistical edge against the rest of the league and, through a willingness to spend in the draft, spend internationally. And, by resisting the urge to keep popular (and declining) players like Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Bay around, they’ve developed a counter-model for success.The Red Sox have developed both their geographical market and their player analysis tools to become a perennial power, and there’s no reason clubs like the Tigers, Cubs and Astros can’t do the same. Even truly small markets, like the Marlins and Rays, have strategies for competition despite financial hindrances.If a franchise can build through the draft, ignore free agency, scout Central and South America, and lock up young talent while it’s still cheap, any team can succeed. It’s not the Yankees’ fault they play in New York; and it’s not Brian Cashman’s problem that Doug Melvin signed Jeff Suppan. MLB should be a meritocracy, not a co-op.last_img

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