If 2009 saw my disenchantment with the baseball card industry grow, it saw a similar disenchantment spin out of control where the baseball business is concerned. Most of us were convinced that the World Series was a foregone conclusion from the moment the Yankees spent every available penny to ensure the services of AJ Burnett and Captain Cheeseburger. We weren’t wrong, and even if we were, it wouldn’t have mattered. As a fan who can normally sit in front of the TV any given night and watch a meaningless Brewers – Astros game, I was shocked that I didn’t watch a single moment of the playoffs after the Twins were beat. I didn’t watch SportsCenter. I didn’t even glance at the results in my newspaper. I just didn’t care.
How exciting is it that 2010 seems to promise more of the same? No one can say for certain that the Phillies and the Yankees have purchased themselves their respective pennants, but let’s say it’s hard to imagine they won’t be in the hunt. Don’t forget the other Evil Empire, Boston. How many injuries would it take to befall one of these behemoths? Boring, boring, boring. Bad for business. All those things.
Don’t blame the players … blame the owners … the most expendable pieces of furniture in the game. There is not a single owner in the sport who provides anything of value in the sport. There isn’t one that couldn’t be replaced in an instant. I’m sick of these fat cats who run the business. I’m sick of their lame claims of ignorance about steroid use in the late 90s and even less moved by their claimed victimhood of the same drug use. I’m sick of their claims of going broke when there isn’t a single team in the history of baseball that was sold for less than it was purchased. They would have you believe that the money they lose is coming out of their own pocket. Ha!
Even richer are the perpetual calls for a salary cap by the small market teams … as if that’s a panacea for all that ails the game. Yes, there is a group of fans and owners that think the salary cap is the ultimate cure and that it is the salary cap alone that the NFL has ridden into the sunset as the “New American Pasttime”. Bullshit. I’m not saying the people who believe this are stupid, I’m saying the belief is stupid. A salary cap in isolation would do nothing to cure the competitive imbalance of the sport. There are, after all, teams that spend far, far below the level at which any reasonable salary cap would be set. (Incidentally, the competitive imbalance in MLB did NOT begin with the free agency era, but has been around from the day the game became big business, in other words, a long, long time ago. Do you think the Yankees just magically began their enjoyment of a monetary advantage the day they signed Reggie Jackson? Ha!)
The NFL is a rock solid business for a far more important reason than the salary cap: REVENUE SHARING. Yeah, the salary cap probably guarantees that no single owner will overspend and damage their own financial position, but in the NFL, every team operates from a large pool of money. Will it happen in MLB? Never. Nope. Can you imagine the Yankess or the Red Sox giving up their financial advantage over the rest of the league? Voluntarily? I say it again … ha!
Of course, you can make a rather convincing argument that revenue sharing agreements are unfair. After all, teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox with their lucrative, big city television deals bring in most of the leagues revenue. Is it fair to make them give it away? (Hell, that stinking, rotten, scummy sack of dog shit Jerry Jones has been screaming the same thing in the NFL for years now.) I have no problem with someone deciding that revenue sharing is an unfair enterprise. I do, however, think opposition to it means you shouldn’t get to whine about the competitive state of baseball.
What I’m getting around to saying (finally) is this: baseball needs true revenue sharing and a salary cap.
Oh yeah, and stupid fans are ruining my enjoyment of the sport. (How do you know if you’re a stupid fan? Here’s an easy test. Do you think Derek Jeter deserved his golden glove for this past season? If you answer yes, you are a stupid fan.)
Why do I still care you ask? Easy, I love the game itself. I have for as long as I can remember. I love walking into a stadium and seeing the beautiful green grass. I love the uniforms. I love that the bases are 90 feet apart. I love the way a pitcher kicks the dirt in front of the rubber so he can dig in. I love watching a second baseman pivot on a 6-4-3 double play. I love the sound of an umpire calling a strike. I love watching the duel between the best pitchers and the best hitters … the mental game. I love a blowout and I love a pitcher’s duel. I love the freaking Hit and Run! The game itself is near perfect. Too bad it doesn’t have the business it deserves.