Some people out there are okay with the fact that MLB Baseball does not have a salary cap in place to control/create a competitive balance in the sport.
Some will argue that not having the salary cap, especially on those teams willing to spend above and beyond the rest of the league (i.e. New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox), allows less financially blessed teams to build teams in a more artful way. Thus, developing almost a subculture of developing teams that win the World Series once every 4 or 6 years, thereby making their championship seasons all that much sweeter, because they did it with a knowledge of and a passion for the game of baseball.
Then there are others who just like the idea that the bigger cities, with the bigger populations, with richer fans, who shell out more dollars to see their teams because of the cost of living in their respective areas, deserve to have more wins the rest of the league. Max Kellerman of 1050 ESPN Radio New York, asserts that is unfair in leagues like the NFL and NBA that smaller cities can win just as many or more championships as big cities that hold a bigger portion of the population. He is of the belief that the salary cap awards the majority and those who are forced to pay more to see their teams. And that is a very fair argument.
However, teams are seeming getting richer and richer, as more and more fans are coming to the parks, regional sports networks are experiencing growth rates out of this world, and Major League Baseball is taking on new distributors for their television broadcast.
So with the influx of money, teams can afford to pay more to their players. However, the bigger cities’ paper-stacks are growing at much faster rates than the small cities’ bank accounts are. Thus, the payrolls for big cities are growing further and further away from the small cities’ payrolls.
And as we have seen, this influx of money coupled with the growing disparity of payrolls capabilities, have resulted in only big city teams being in the market for big time players.
The biggest contract in the history of baseball was awarded to Alex Rodriguez this winter. But even before that, as he was in the free agency market, there were only a few teams that could even afford to sit down and talk with him. And even those big cities like Los Angeles, Detroit, and the New York Mets didn’t feel as if they could devote so much of their payroll to just one player. Consequently, A-Rod went to the New York Yankees, who can afford anybody as the richest team in baseball.
The biggest contract for a pitcher was also signed this past winter. That went to Johan Santana. In his search for an adequate trade, Santana was only considered by the usual suspects; the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angles Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. There were no Oakland, St. Louis or Milwaukee teams in the hunt. Hence, Santana went to the New York Mets, another big city, with a burgeoning regional network and millions of fans that come to the stadium every season.
Is this the advantage we want the big cities to have? An advantage where certain athletes garner so much money in an overflowing market that small cities aren’t even really players in the entire spectrum of free agency because they can’t afford to sign players to contracts bigger than their annual, and sometimes bi-annual, payrolls.
I wouldn’t think that’s what we want, because it will only be a matter of time before these big cities can afford to have payrolls 4 and 5 times the size of other ones, as their regional sports channels and homepages allot for specified and creative advertising opportunities, that can benefit advertisers more and more.
Yeah, there is a luxury tax, but it hasn’t exactly stopped the Yankees and Red Sox from winning 95 games every season. And it won’t stop it in the future, if these teams put out such a good product, that paying players gross amounts of money is worth it in terms of fan appeal and ad dollars.
So Commissioner Bud Selig, you got your extension. Now fix this payroll issue before you end up with a league where any and all parity will cease to exist, as we know it.
Be it NY Yankees or Boston Red Sox, it has taken a lot of hard work and dedication for them to reach a position where they can demand a salary of their choice and if this hard work is something that everyone takes up then they too will be in the same position in due course. All it requires is a little sweating it out on the playing field which feels more like a 안전놀이터.