When you’re running a business, it’s always about the bottom line. Sure, you need to take care of your employees (at least if you’re worth your salt as a business owner), and make sure you’re not employing any illegal practices, or wrongfully cutting corners, etc, etc.
Major League Baseball’s bottom line is as black as ever. Over the last few years, even during the “double-dip” recession the country has suffered through (sounds like a style of Dairy Queen Ice Cream doesn’t it?), baseball is more profitable than it ever has been in history.
In fact, compared to the NFL, which many believe to be the omnipotent being of all professional sports in the United States, Major League Baseball has considerably gained ground in terms of popularity and total revenue.
So to all those franchises out there that whine about how their entire payrolls tremble in the shadow of many individual players, I say suck it up, life in baseball is good.
If I read one more GM complain that a cap-less league makes for an unfair one, I’m going to bury my face in a latrine at a truck stop.
Please, I implore you to take a look at the other major professional sports in America before spouting off things like ‘we need parity’ or ‘stop the evil empires.’
Pop-quiz: In the NBA, which, mind you, has had a salary cap for 26 years running now, how many different teams have won a championship?
Is it 20? No. Is it 15? No. Is it 10? No.
The answer is seven. Only seven different franchises have had the honor of hoisting the big metallic ball on top of the weird cylindrical net over the past 25-plus years.
Yeah, that sounds like parity.
Most believe the NFL sees the most ‘parity’ even though in this decade the New England Patriots won three out of five Super Bowls, the Steelers came very close to accomplishing the same feat, the Indianapolis Colts have won almost every AFC South division title and the Lions, Bills and Browns have always, always stunk.
Plus, the NFL’s regular and post seasons give teams with less talent a much better chance to succeed than in the MLB.
If you’ve noticed, and hopefully you have, otherwise you’re probably reading the wrong section of the newspaper, the NFL schedule only runs 16 games long (maybe it changes to 18 games next season, but the point remains the same).
If a team with less talent gets on a short, hot streak during the regular season they can find themselves in the playoffs in the blink of an eye, where they enter a single-elimination playoff structure when anything can happen (Remember when Eli Manning and David Tyree beat the best football team of all time?).
How many more Super Bowls would the New England Patriots have won if they played a 25 game season and a best-of-three style playoff system?
During Major League Baseball’s long season, any aberrant and protracted winning streaks are usually evened out by another long stretch of bad baseball; it’s something called the law of averages.
This means franchises that possess the most complete rosters, over the long haul of a 162 game season, more often than not prevail by season’s end.
However – and this is an extremely important however – teams with the highest payrolls in baseball do not necessarily field the most complete rosters.
The most salient example of this is when in 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays, who had a total payroll of $43 million (which was second lowest in all of baseball) were far and away the best team in not only the AL East, but also the entire American League.
How did they do it with such a meager payroll? Well the answer to that is supremely obvious: Steroids and magic tricks.
No, the Rays did it because they built up their farm system and brought up top prospects to fill in around the established solid core they already had.
Spending a trillion dollars on players like Adrian Gonzalez – I hate to tell you Red Sox fans – does not make for a guaranteed World Series ring.
Look at Kansas City this season. They are made up of a group of young talent (which also only happens to be the tip of the iceberg, sorry to say to the rest of the AL Central), and they look like one of the toughest teams in the league in the early part of the season.
I understand that the Yankees have put together rosters in recent years with payrolls upwards of $200 million.
The truth is for the last decade the Yanks have had the highest payroll in baseball. But out of those years, they’ve only won one championship, the same as (or less than) the Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Angels.