Tag: LA Angels
As the Pittsburgh Pirates purge their roster for the umpteenth time in the past 16+ years, I’m reminded of the little-noted failure by the MLBPA of its membership. A trade union, by definition, is supposed to use collective bargaining with management for the overall betterment of its membership. The MLBPA has lost sight of the fact that this collective bargaining should not be strictly limited to wage increases.
In any given year, there are 4-6 teams with a realistic shot at winning a title. Minnows, through careful scouting and not a little bit of luck, will occasionally pop up in the ranks to disturb the big boys. But if you knew little of baseball, it wouldn’t be totally unreasonable to assume that in a given year, the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Mets and Braves will be the main contenders.
You can switch a name or two here and there but, in general, this leaves 24 out of 30 teams that, for all their fuss and bluster, don’t have a shot to contend. This is the nature of sports and I won’t dispute that. But it’s also partly a result of the revenue/salary structure of modern baseball.
In leagues with a tight salary cap/luxury tax, such as the NFL, NHL or NBA, well-managed teams can contend year-in, year-out regardless of market status. A small-market team in MLB can contend for maybe 2-3 years out of every 8 years. Build up, torn down by free agency, build up, torn down by free agency. Ask Billy Beane, one of the best GM’s in baseball, how MLB’s cost structure is working out for him.
Let’s look at it from a Union’s viewpoint. Is it better for a Union to seek the highest individual salaries regardless of how those left behind in middling teams fare? Or should a Union seek the greatest possible distribution of salaries among its membership. One player makes $20mil while four players make $3mil. The average is $6.4mil. The median is $3mil. The high outliers skew the average salary.
Furthermore, for every team that can pay $200mil+ for its roster, there will be more teams with salaries around $50-$80mil. The team that can pay $200mil+ will compete year-in, year-out. The teams with $50-$80mil can compete only for a short time before being raided by the $200mil team. And with roster size limits, not everyone can sign with the $200mil team so that money is allocated to only a few players.
In a more egalitarian system, such as the NFL’s, the overall number for salaries will stay the same. But the distribution becomes wider. Yes, it’s called spreading the wealth. But a Union that negotiates distribution in addition to overall number is doing its job. The NFLPA, by agreeing to a salary cap, ensures wider distribution of monies as well as giving a greater percentage of its membership a realistic chance of landing with a team that can build a contender.
A few years ago, MLB designated that the winning team of the All-Star Game would clinch home-field advantage for its League in the World Series. The move is supposed to liven up the game and get the players to care about the outcome. The allegedly heightened circumstances are also supposed to get the fans to care a little more as well. This year, MLB is using the slogan, “this one counts.”
I fail to understand why World Series home-field advantage would matter to poor unlucky schlobs like Freddy Garcia or Zach Duke of the Pirates or whatever token schlomo got in from the Washington Nationals. Unless they’re expecting to be traded to a contender, perhaps. (In the case of Garcia, the answer is no because the Mets aren’t in contention this year).
In the unbalanced world of Major League Baseball, few teams are in real contention by this point of the season, despite any protestations to the contrary. Why should their few representatives really care about handing home-field advantage to an opposing team. It seems to me that since they are already out of contention, Orioles, Athletics, Pirates, Padres or Diamondbacks players and fans wouldn’t be particularly in favor of handing home-field advantage to potentially the Yankees, Angels, Cardinals or Dodgers.
Oh, I’ve heard that the players are putting forth more of an effort since this scheme was adopted but Bug Selig can’t seriously think that it will bring back the level of competition that resulted in Pete Rose crashing into home plate so many years ago. Way to come up with another gem, Bud.