For reasons unclear to me, many mainstream baseball writers refer to the 1950s as the “golden Age” of baseball, that is, when the New York Yankees won the WS or agt least were IN the WS every year. The only thing that is “gold” that I can see is the “gold” that went into the pockets of the men who owned the team. It’s no wonder that attendence fell precipitously in the AL. Why watch when the outcome is pre-determined?
In spite of luxury tax and revenue sharing, the Yankees are re-creating the 50s. With income streams from their own network and fancy new taxpayer funded stadium, they purchase the best players and use the rest of the teams to trade for great players who are paid more than they want to pay. So teams are easily and happily trading their good and sometimes CHEAP players (see Curtis Granderson) to the Yankees to avoid paying their salary, and in return for very little.
The Yankees just acquired Javier Vazquez from the Braves for Melky Cabrera, an average hitting and fielding centerfielder and 2 prospects who are most CERTAINLY not ready for prime time. They are picking up Vazquez’ 11.5 mill contract for Melky’s (approximately 3-4 mill one, perhaps paying that too, who knows) and giving up essentially nothing except a pitcher who throws hard but not accurately and some guy serveral years away from the majors.
I have always been opposed to salary caps, because I see it as a prime way for owners to cheat players out of money while increasing their own profits, but the Yankees easily affording to pay each one of their players an average salary of 9 million, as opposed to the next highest team’s average of 6 million, has gotten to the point in which there is essentially no reason for any other team to even bother to spend money. We have all turned into the 1950s Athletics.
I know that the networks all want the Yankees in the series every single year, but if you have the same team with all the money, winning every single year, eventually, people will lose interest in such a rigged game, just as they did the LAST time that no one stood a chance against the Yankees.
Now it is true that some of the teams with highER payrolls, such as the Mets and Cubs, have spent that money foolishly, but they still lack the extra 50-80 million to make things even with the Yankees. I know that many fans WANT the owners to make up the difference of 50-100 mill a year out of their OWN pockets, and make no profit, but let’s be real, no owner has spent HIS OWN MONEY on a baseball team since the early days of Ted Turner, and no owner is going to do that again. Bud Selig has made SURE of that.
I’m sure that for now, the player’s Union is fine with the status quo because the elite players will be earning zillions and the grunts, at leasts 400K (which is a lot more than most of them would earn if they had to actually earn real college degrees and, you know, like, WORK.) I don’t know how to deal with this problem, as eventually baseball games are going to be the equivalent of boxing matches between a 220 lb heavyweight champion and a arthritic old lady. In other words, there will be NO contest whatsoever, and unless you happen to be a Yankees fan, or someone who just happens to enjoy unequal contests, fans are going to stop being fans.
Well, not people who play fantasy baseball, but that is really not an interest in actual baseball GAMES, but an interest on playing games with 5 particular stats generated by each player. NOT teams.
And naturally, just like the steroids problem, MLB and ESPN and the players union will let things slide until such a time that there is some sort of serious problem, such as an owner who WANTS to win and won’t just shut up and take the dive and his 20-30 mill profit, and raises a serious stink. Even offers to make the team’s books public!!!
I can’t imagine even thinking of being a Jays/Rays/Orioles fan and knowing that the only way that my team has a chance to win is if every player on my team has a career year, the umps make a lot of bad calls that just happen to go our way, and that so many of the Yankee players go on the DL that even they can’t acquire enough replacements to succeed. (Being a Red Sox fan would be fine because we would get the WC anyway and in a short series, anything can happen.)
I have absolutely NO idea how a truly equal salary cap and floor could be generated other than by MLB itself, which would require each team to completely open its books to display ALL revenue streams up to and including its ticket resale companies, add all streams and divide by 30. But owners of popular franchises would object, especially those who make even more money than Forbes thinks they do. But I think the first owners to really start to scream are the owners of the next 5 highest payroll clubs, who are still outgunned by all the Yankee money, and aren’t ready to take a dive alone with the contented low payroll clubs.
I suppose a lot of people are just going to tell me that I am only upset because I don’t root for the Yankees, but a team with an inept GM and an owner whose foolishness has driven the franchise into a hole of the sort that will take years to emerge from (unless the owner decided to spend a very large amount of his OWN money, which is NOT going to happen.) The 40 man roster is already filled, as Ed Wade felt the absolute NEED to grab Jason Michaels, seeing as how he had 29 other teams eagerly bidding for his services, to complete the 40 man.
He can’t pick up waiver wire guys, can’t add any last minute Bobby Abreus, can’t do much of anything at all. In fact, he has done absolutely ZERO to IMPROVE this team, and frankly, I don’t believe that Lindstrom + Lyons will even equal Valverde + Hawkins, let alone improve on them. And on no planet, will Pedro Feliz be better than Blum plus Keppinger. Sure he can invite all SORTS of guys to Spring Training, but really, how many of them would have any chance of making the team at all, let alone make any sort of REAL contribution?
He CAN’T trade Lee (who again, has said ON THE RECORD that he will refuse all trades) and even if he could, I seriously doubt that Drayton would agree to eat a huge amount of yearly salary to obtain young players; he CAN’T trade Berkman, who doesn’t want to be traded in this last year of his contract; unless Roy demands a trade, no dice there either, as Drayton doesn’t want to trade Roy. He has essentially NO farm, he has NO trade chips, except Pence, who apparently, he is either unwilling to trade or what he would receive in return wasn’t worth it; he could, of course, trade Wandy, our only good pitcher, but either there is no market or Drayton won’t agree or Wade is afraid that the Astros will lose 100 games without a good pitcher (and unfortunately, Roy is on the downside of his career and Wandy is not.) He won’t/can’t release Kaz Matsui and use, trade for or purchase a better hitting second baseman.
The only way out of the hole is for Drayton to forfeit this year’s profits, spend some of his OWN money, and pick up some unwanted contracts like Javier Vazquez. Oh wait, too late.
Merry Christmas, everyone. And also Happy Hanaukah and also Happy Kwanzaa and also, to all a cheerful Holiday Season – I guess that cheer is only good for Yankees fans, but I digress…