I have a new rule: Any time I spend more than a half hour on a comment, I need to bump it up to a full post . . . especially when I haven’t written anything in months.

The Rolen contract thread
somehow devolved into yet another discussion of whether baseball needs a salary cap.

Essentially, the argument a few guys were making went like this: “How many different teams have been in the playoffs in the NFL? How can team A compete with Team B in MLB when Team A payroll is 80 million and team B’s is 200 million. There has to be a floor and a ceiling for their to be true fairness in the system.”

If all you want is “an opportunity to make the playoffs once a decade,” which is what I was hearing, then there’s no need to look at football. Baseball already has THAT. Baseball had 14 different teams in the 10 World Series during the 2000s. Only Boston won more than once. Eight teams won the NL pennant; six won the AL.

But there’s an obvious, but overlooked difference between baseball and football, and I’m not sure that it’s the salary cap. It’s just perception: The NFL lets 12 of 32 teams into the playoffs. Baseball has 8 of 30. Add two wild cards, per season, per league, and you’ll have a damn lot of playoff teams.

Let’s just look at the past two seasons. Twelve of the 30 teams made the playoffs in one of those two seasons. If MLB added two WCs per league, the number would’ve jumped to NINETEEN. Sixty-three percent of the league would’ve appeared in the playoffs in just two years.

If you add 2007, 23 baseball teams would’ve made the NFL-style playoffs. That’s everyone except the absolute weak sisters (BAL, KC, PIT, CIN, WAS), and two teams that everyone acknowledges are generally well-run, but just in a down cycle (ATL and OAK). And ATL would’ve missed the Hypothetical Playoffs by 1 game in 2009; Oakland won their division outright in ‘06.

Guess how many NFL teams made the playoffs over the past three seasons (2006-08)? Yep. Twenty-three. (The losers? Again, no surprises: CLE, BUF, OAK, HOU, STL, DET, SF – and the Bengals and Broncos, who made in in ’05 and will probably be in again this year.)

No salary cap needed. Wild Cards win all the time, in football and baseball. Obviously, five and seven-game series make it harder, but I think the effect is pretty similar. Expand the playoffs, and a few of those 84-85 win teams win pennants, and baseball would have exactly what football has.

That doesn’t interest me one bit. But I’m not arguing for a salary cap, either. Until the Reds operate with some semblance of a competence, I don’t think they (and to their credit, they aren’t) or we are in any position to complain about an unfair system.

51 Responses

  1. pinson343

    Expanding the playoffs, as an alternative to the salary cap or revenue sharing, is an interesting thought in that I haven’t heard anyone suggest it in this context.

    I understand you’re not advocating expansion of the number of WC teams, and I too don’t like the idea, but some expansion is inevitable at some point.

    When you dilute the postseason NBA and NHL style so that sub-.500 teams are regularly in the playoffs, the regular season loses a lot of its meaning. You don’t want that in baseball, where the long tough regular season grind is the true test. The NFL has a middle ground that isn’t bad.

    I’m not just a Reds fan, I’m a baseball fan, and as a baseball fan I can complain about an unfair system. Expanding the playoffs would be a cosmetic solution to make it look more like there’s competitive balance. Reminds me of Bud Selig’s position that he doesn’t want to expand the divisional series to 7 games, because he wants to give the weaker team a better chance to win.

  2. RedinFla

    I imagine the committee Bud has put together to look at how to improve the game will discuss these issues.

    Not that having a committee means any real changes will be made, but we can hope.. It’ll be interesting to see what they have to say.

  3. brublejr

    No matter what you do the best players will still go to the Yanks and Sox, teams like that because of tradition and exposure. Even with a salary cap, it would be hard to bring the best players to Cincinnati.

    Even in the NFL, players take a cut from what they could make to sign with teams like the Patriots…and conversely teams still overspend on terrible players like the Raiders.

    The thing is the management has to be smart to be successful. Look at teams like Cleveland, Washington, Oakland, and Houston in the NFL. Their management is terrible therefore their teams are terrible. Look at Indianapolis, they have been one of the most well run teams in the NFL and it shows, and they come from a small market. The difference between Indy and one of those other teams I mentioned is the management. They are smart when it comes to the draft, signing players, and knowing when to cut bait (it helps they have the best QB though). The Patriots are the same way, as is Philly. All those teams have been great in the 00’s and it all comes back to management.

    As far as a chance to make the playoff’s, I think it is just as likely for the Reds to make it in the current system as that as a salary cap. What needs to happen is the management MUST get smarter before any kind of turn a round can happen.

  4. brublejr

    BTW, I am against any more teams making the playoffs in baseball. I hate that nearly half the league makes the playoffs in the other sports. I love the way the playoffs are set up in baseball. They just need to tighten up the schedule a little bit so it doesn’t run so dang long.

  5. David

    There is an obvious problem with expanding the playoffs. Baseball would either have to reduce the number of regular season games, which would cut into the owners’ profit margin, or play games in December. I don’t think either alternative is a viable solution.

    Look, there is nothing wrong with the playoff format or the economics of baseball. The game is thriving and the system isn’t broken.

    There are two economies right now in baseball. The small market teams are actually making a profit from the team itself. Take for example the 2005 season. The most profitable team in baseball was the Cleveland Indians. The Brewers were 7th, the Pirates 8th, and the Royals 12th. The mighty Yankees were dead last. Slightly ahead of the Yankees were the Red Sox and Mets.

    The large market teams use the team to bring in revenue to other enterprises. For example, the Tribune Company could lose money on the Cubs because WGN was raking in a ton of it, which offset the losses. In other words, whether the money goes in the front or back pocket, the money goes into the same pair of pants.

    There are other forces at work, but that’s a good snapshot. Bottom line… All teams are profitable.

  6. Dave E.

    Baseball needs to do something.

    I don’t have a problem with rewarding well-run teams. That is the exact problem however. The Yankees are not an especially well-run team, at least not in the sense of making good GM decisions. They simply make a lot more money and can buy new free agents when their mistakes are realized.

    The BEAUTY of the salary cap, from a fan’s perspective, is that doesn’t matter if you are from New York or not. Look, the NFL has its powerhouse teams, sure — Colts, Pats, Steelers, Green Bay, etc. Do some teams consistently stink? Yes, of course! The Lions are terrible.

    But the Lions are not terrible because they can’t afford players. They are poor talent evaluators. The New York Jets and Giants are not good because they are in New York — when they are good, they are good because they are managed well.

    The Colts are NOT good because of their big market. Nor are the Steelers. Or Green Bay.

    There is a fundamental unfairness that baseball fans may legitimately complain about. Until then “competition” is an absolute sham.

  7. chris

    Good points, gents. I agree with Pinson , Bruble, and David. Just thought it was an interesting exercise, and a good response to the argument that baseball should look like the NFL.

  8. RiverCity Redleg

    Dave E hit the nail on the head.

  9. Josh

    Great post, Chris. A few comments.

    1. Those in favor of a cap….are you operating under the assumption that comeone like Sabathia would CHOOSE to come to Cincinnati? Really? The Reds would still have to offer up a higher percentage of their cap space then the Yankees to lure them here. It actually may make things worse for teams like the Reds.

    2. The owners are already making money and all a cap does is give them more (on average). Doesn’t anyone think its good for teams to be paying luxury tax for overspending? I mean, the Yankees gave away what, 25 million this year, and they won their first WS in 8 years (or however long).

    3. Big name/spend teams like the Yankees are good for baseball. Every poor market team sees a boost in attendence and revenue when a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or Dodgers come into town. Star power attracts and helps infuse more revenue.

    4. How long, if a cap were in place, would it take for Boras and his cronies to decide they were simply going to demand huge signing bonus’ for their FA clients? The big market teams will still have the leverage to sign the best FAs.

    So, in the current scenario the players make all the money they can get in an open free economy where pay is commensurate to a player’s unique abilities, the owner’s remain fat and wealthy, and competitive balance is more so than those of any other major sport.

    In a salary cap world the players earn less, the owners make more, and competitive balance doesn’t change because the smartest teams still make the best decisions and the big market teams still have the most leverage in the FA market.

    • Dave E.

      Josh: Great post, Chris.A few comments.1. Those in favor of a cap….are you operating under the assumption that comeone like Sabathia would CHOOSE to come to Cincinnati?Really?The Reds would still have to offer up a higher percentage of their cap space then the Yankees to lure them here.It actually may make things worse for teams like the Reds.2. The owners are already making money and all a cap does is give them more (on average).Doesn’t anyone think its good for teams to be paying luxury tax for overspending?I mean, the Yankees gave away what, 25 million this year, and they won their first WS in 8 years (or however long).3. Big name/spend teams like the Yankees are good for baseball.Every poor market team sees a boost in attendence and revenue when a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or Dodgers come into town.Star power attracts and helps infuse more revenue.4. How long, if a cap were in place, would it take for Boras and his cronies to decide they were simply going to demand huge signing bonus’ for their FA clients?The big market teams will still have the leverage to sign the best FAs.So, in the current scenario the players make all the money they can get in an open free economy where pay is commensurate to a player’s unique abilities, the owner’s remain fat and wealthy, and competitive balance is more so than those of any other major sport.In a salary cap world the players earn less, the owners make more, and competitive balance doesn’t change because the smartest teams still make the best decisions and the big market teams still have the most leverage in the FA market.

      I disagree:

      1) Sabathia (and most) would go wherever he got the most money and/or where there was the best chance to win. Players keep score that way, just like you and I do. If the Yanks did not have the most money, they surely would not get the most, best FAs.

      2) I agree with the fact that a cap would simply line the owners’ pockets at the expense of the players. Specifically, it will line the owners of the big market clubs pockets (as it does with big revenue NFL owners, such as Snyder and Jones). To me, this is the biggest problem with the cap.

      3) Big name/spend teams are NOT good for baseball. They simply highlight the inequities. Just ask Castellini if he hopes to use “see the big market teams come and destroy us” as a marketing pitch.

      4) “Bonuses” count toward the cap in the NFL and would in baseball, too.

  10. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    Great post, by the way. It’s this kind of debate that Old Man Bud needs to be having with his cronies.

    First, a salary cap does not solve the problem, and is actually a tax on the higher revenue teams. What I’m getting at is a cost of living index…If player A can earn $2 million a year, that $2 million buys a lot more hoagies & grinders in Cincy than it does in NYC or San Fran. Also, factor in Toronto & Canadian taxes and the exchange rate, and the Bluebirds are a bit behind the 8 ball.

    The problem with comparisons between MLB and the NFL is rooted in one thing…GUARANTEED MONEY! In the NFL, offering guaranteed money is something a few teams do to select, elite players as an enticement to sign, and it is generally only for the first portion of the contract. The average NFL player can be cut at any point during his contract and the team will have salary flexibility (though I know it takes a partial hit on their Cap number). How great would it be for a team like Cincy if they could cut Milton and save $8 million, or Taveras and save $4? Its those flexibility issues that hamper the poorly run, low revenue teams. That said, I know the Yankees would’ve cut ties with Pavano, Kevin Brown, and Giambi much much earlier if they could’ve.

    Pardon the length…that’s what she said.

  11. jason1972

    You gotta be stupid if you think some teams with salaries 4 times higher than others doesn’t impact competitive balance. It doesn’t preclude great organizations from competing by using different strategies, but their margin for error is incredibly thin. And the fact that they have to relegate themselves to basically never having long term star franchise players sucks for the fans.

    A salary cap isn’t a be-all end-all answer to the issue by any stretch, but it would help. In the NFL you can only have prolonged success by having a fantastic organization (Pittsburgh, New England). In MLB you can have that success simply by buying all of the best players. Neither system will fix the problems with badly run organizations though.

  12. Josh

    Sorry for the multi-post, but I think too that proponents of a salary cap like the NFL’s assume that this is why the NFL is more popular. I think we’re looking at the wrong factors here.

    The NFL isn’t more successful because because of a salary cap. Its because they present a more exciting product to the general public (and I’m once of them…a Bengals season ticket holder).

    1. Fewer games make it easier to follow
    2. Sunday games make it easier to watch
    3. People like watching people get hit.
    4. Baseball is more cerebral…I like nothing more than watching a 1-0 pitchers dual, but the general public doesn’t.

    The average NFL fan (I’m making an assumption) would probably tell you that MLB is boring compared to the NFL. I don’t agree with that, but I bet a love of football vs. baseball does not come down to salary cap or competitive balance issues.

    • Dave E.

      Josh: Sorry for the multi-post, but I think too that proponents of a salary cap like the NFL’s assume that this is why the NFL is more popular.I think we’re looking at the wrong factors here.The NFL isn’t more successful because because of a salary cap.Its because they present a more exciting product to the general public (and I’m once of them…a Bengals season ticket holder).1. Fewer games make it easier to follow
      2. Sunday games make it easier to watch
      3. People like watching people get hit.
      4. Baseball is more cerebral…I like nothing more than watching a 1-0 pitchers dual, but the general public doesn’t.The average NFL fan (I’m making an assumption) would probably tell you that MLB is boring compared to the NFL.I don’t agree with that, but I bet a love of football vs. baseball does not come down to salary cap or competitive balance issues.

      I disagree, here, too. I also go to a lot of Bengals games. I DO think baseball needs to speed its games up and there are lots of things it can do to do this. But football is insufferably slow, particularly live. Football has done a lot to ensure that its games finish on time, however (like keeping the clock running on most out of bounds plays).

      Bill James once defended the idea of having baseball speed its games up. He pointed out that what people wanted to see was ACTION. Every regulation baseball game has 51 to 54 outs. But is necessarily slower and filled with fits of INACTION if it takes 3 1/2 hours to play, rather than 2 1/2. Some ideas he suggested would work seemingly fine — reduce mid-inning pitching changes, reduce trips to the mound, limit pickoff attempts, etc.

      Football makes changes. Basketball makes changes every year. Baseball never does, but it should. It would certainly help.

      1)

  13. Travis G.

    I’m against a salary cap or expanding the playoffs, but guaranteed money makes the margin for error terribly slim for small-market teams. We’re lamenting the financial impact of Willy Taveras’ contract, which has proved to be useless, but isn’t really all that extravagant. Maybe luxury tax revenue could be restricted to buying out bad contracts. It wouldn’t cure the problem, but might alleviate its symptoms. Restricting shared revenue to player salaries, instead of allowing owners to treat it as a slush fund, might also help.

    Baseball’s in pretty great financial shape, so the players and owners aren’t likely to agree to any fundamental changes, but fans unfortunately don’t have a seat at the table.

  14. Travis G.

    Baseball also does a horrible job selling its product to fans via television broadcasts. The announcing is so uniformly awful and the start times for important games so late that there’s no way a casual fan could fall in love with the game by watching it on TV.

  15. Drew Nelson

    For baseball to grow it not only needs a salary cap and floor, it needs to expand the playoffs. Enough of this living in the old times. Baseball needs to wake up and understand that in today’s sports world, fans have way to many other options and unless baseball improves it’s image and fan base, it is going to remain No. 3 in the big 4. A salary cap/floor provides an evan playing field for all teams. Adding teams to the playoffs can be done by just reducing the number of regular season games. You keep or even expand the total number of games, just rename them. Baseball is in this position due to a lack of vision, something both the NFL and NBA have. Unless changes are made, you are going to see fewer and fewer people caring about the game.

  16. jason1972

    Baseball needs to speed the games up too. A 150 game regular season would be more than sufficient.

  17. preach

    Columbus is an interesting town. No major pro baseball or football franchises, but sitting in a diamond of Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh (awkward diamond I admit, but you get the point). When I moved here in the early 90’s it was strictly a Browns/Reds town with Steeler fans bringing up third place. During the run the Indians had during the 90’s you began seeing Wahoo’s little racist face everywhere. When the Browns left Cleveland you would have thought they were a Columbus team, and people began pulling for the Steelers (same mentality, I guess. Certainly similar hygiene habits). Now that the Bengals seem to be in a little resurgence I am seeing more stripes around town. Rarely see Colt stuff, and never see Pirate stuff. Just goes to show that winners sell product in fringe markets, but also that direct marketing makes an impact, and that’s why I believe that even as close and successful as they’ve been you do not see any Colts stuff here.

    Market size is important, but that can be expanded in many locations. Additional revenue streams are available. Just ask the Steelers who made a conscious effort to win over Columbus after the Browns left. And it worked.

    Of course, other revenue streams do not always lead to winning on the field, as I see as much Raider stuff around in other places as anyone’s elses.

    What’s this all mean? Eh, like so many of my posts probably not much except that no one has a right to cry poor if they haven’t marketed their product aggressively and made it more fan friendly, and no amount of marketing can erase bad decisions. Winning is it’s own special brand of marketing.

  18. justcorbly

    There’s no need to blindly mimic the NFL. And, personally, I’d prefer fewer playoff rounds, not more. A lot of just seems contrived to boost revenue.

    However, a disparity in spending exists, and should be addressed. A $200 million payroll doesn’t guarantee winning, but it gets you a lot closer than a $60 million payroll.

  19. catcard202

    I fail to see where a salary cap/min. would help anything w/o total revenue sharing…and that isn’t happening.

    If the way MLB revenues remain as-is & they install a hard cap/min…The large market teams (LA/NY/BOS/CHI) would make more profits than ever (if they had to stick to a hard ceiling which would be much lower than what they are spending today)…and small market teams would make less money than they do today (due to being further crippled by the higher league minimum; which I would imagine to be w/ 20% or so, of ceiling #… (to keep some level of competitive balance in spending, in place).

    SPENDING is not the answer…

    IMO, If I was in charge..To reach a better level of competitive balance…I’d do a few things…Using the “Good of the Game” mantra that Bud’s so famous for.

    1) Expanding the AL by 2 teams (San Antonio & Las Vegas).

    2) Go to 4 4team divisions per league.(Some re-alignment w/ only the Division winners go to the play-offs).
    ALE: NYY,BOS,TOR,BALT
    ALS: TB,TXR,KC,San Antonio
    ALC: Minn,DET,CHW,CLE
    ALW: OAK,LAA,SEA,LasVegas
    NLE: NYM,WAS,PHI,PIT
    NLS: ATL,FLA,HOU,STL
    NLC: CHC,MIL,CIN,PIT
    NLW: LAD,SFG,SDG,COL

    3) Expand NL rosters to 26/41. (AL has the DH)

    4)(via Players union) Negotiate adding 1 more controllable yr on a players initial pro contract…(Concessions from owners in raising MiLB salaries to better living wage & increases in pre arb salaries.)

  20. Drew Nelson

    So let me see if I understand, some here are agaisnt a Cap/floor because it would put more money into the pockets of the owners, even though it would provide a better competitive environment? So what? Who has all the risk? I don’t care if owner X crams billions into his own pocket as long as there is a equal playing field for each team. I don’t hear players in the NFL or NBA crying over their salaries, I don’t believe baseball players would either.

    Also, the NL needs to get on board and adopt the DH, that way you get better games.

  21. catcard202

    Drew Nelson…

    No..It’s about w/o a much higher level of revenue sharing to go along w/ a Cap/Min Payroll…A Cap/Min salary structure.. alone …by current revenue sharing guidelines…would allow only the major market teams to make HUGE profits…and force some small market clubs into Chapter 11.

    No Way can the FLA Marlins afford to spend $70M/yr on a payroll (Not w/o going belly up)…When they draw less than 1.5M in attendance…but the NYY will rake in $$, hand over fist, if they could only spend $100M…w/ over 3.7M in draw (w/ many many many more NY premium price tickets being sold).

    Understand now???

    And NO…The DH was added to the AL as a way to get OLD NL sluggers to play in the AL before retiring…IMO, The NL brand is for REAL baseball players..A place where everyone has to be able to field there position… And think on their feet…A league where a pitcher has to step into the box…after brushing a man back to reclaim the plate. Baseball as it was meant to be played. (Not that Beer League Softball version of baseball the AL plays.)

    • Drew Nelson

      If a team is not profitable, then it needs to be shut down. This is good smart business and
      what baseball needs to do. As for the DH, it is here, to not have it in both leagues is stupid. Add it to the NL make the games more enjoyable and move on.

      catcard202: Drew Nelson…No..It’s about w/o a much higher level of revenue sharing to go along w/ a Cap/Min Payroll…A Cap/Min salary structure.. alone …by current revenue sharing guidelines…would allow only the major market teams to make HUGE profits…and force some small market clubs into Chapter 11.No Way can the FLA Marlins afford to spend $70M/yr on a payroll (Not w/o going belly up)…When they draw less than 1.5M in attendance…but the NYY will rake in $$, hand over fist, if they could only spend $100M…w/ over 3.7M in draw (w/ many many many more NY premium price tickets being sold).Understand now???And NO…The DH was added to the AL as a way to get OLD NL sluggers to play in the AL before retiring…IMO, The NL brand is for REAL baseball players..A place where everyone has to be able to field there position… And think on their feet…A league where a pitcher has to step into the box…after brushing a man back to reclaim the plate. Baseball as it was meant to be played. (Not that Beer League Softball version of baseball the AL plays.)

  22. Josh

    Dave: I can agree to disagree. You are right about the signing bonus’…that is my bad. Ultimately, I just don’t think a cap will affect the competitive balance any more than where it already stands. The distribution of wealth between players and owners is more of a personal philosophy.

    I see arguments both ways but am in favor of no cap.

  23. Mark in CC

    I am all for expanding the playoffs but a couple of things need to go along with it.

    #1 Season needs to be shortened. Not the # of games(162) but days. There needs to be two scheduled Sunday doubleheaders a month, one at home one on the road. That cuts the number of dates needed by 6 or one week.

    Rather than a salary cap,

    #2 All media dollars need to be shared equally. In other words local, regional and national TV and Radio dollars for all 30 teams go into a pot and are shared equally. Big city teams don’t gain an advantage especially since they would not get those dollars if not playing another team. Similar to internet arrangement.

    #3 Each visiting team needs to share in 30% of the non-season ticket revenue and 10% of season ticket revenue for each game they play on the road. Luxury boxes stay with the home team. Currently they receive $0 fro the road gate. Again it takes 2 to tango.

    #4 All merchandise sales for all teams are shared by all teams equally. That is a mlb logo on the back of the hats.

    #5 With 2 through 4 in place, a formula needs to be prepared to determine a minimum salary budget for each team. In other words there is a salary cap at the bottom instead of the top. The little guys can not keep this extra money as profit it needs to spend it on cometitive balance, which in turn should increase their pprofits.

    This will still allow the big city teams an advantage but I think level the playing surface greatly.

  24. Drew Nelson

    Changes I would like to see put in place:

    1. All weekend games would be day games, and selected games during July/Aug during the week would be day games.

    2. No playoff game can start after 7pm.

    3. DH is either removed in the AL or added to the NL.

    4. Interleague play is redone, there is no reason to have home and home (Reds/Clevland) every year. Rotate it each year. Reduce it to 9 games total per team or 3 series in a year.

    5. All ballparks will have seating sections set aside for priced no higher then $10 and it must by at least 10% of your seatage.

    6. All stadiums must offer $1 food drink items

    7. Each team on weekend home games must have X number of players pre game available to meet with fans

    8. A payroll max of $125 and floor of $75 million would be put into place.

    9. All TV monies generated will be pooled and divided equally.

    10. Umpires will start speeding up games. No more of this batters stepping in and out and in and out and in and out. I loved Sean Casey, but his batting ritual drove me crazy. Real simple, adjust once or have pitches thrown and called while you adjust. Pitchers also will have X amount of time between pitches (sorta like they have in football for offenses to get the play off) Home plate umpires where a buzzer and if it goes off before the pitch is thrown, it’s a automatic ball call.

  25. pinson343

    @Drew Nelson: I don’t necessarily like all your changes, but they’re the kinds of issues Bud’s committee ought to be thinking about. Put your comment in a letter to Bud !

  26. pinson343

    I agree with those who point out problems with a salary cap. I’m in favor of more revenue sharing, which has been a key to the NFL’s success. Without sharing of the tv money, the Green Bay Packers, for example, would no longer exist.

    With a fix in the system to improve competitive balance, the best free agents would NOT still go to the Yankees and Red Sox because of their “great traditions.” The perception of “great traditions” changes, depending on who’s winning. The Red Sox were viewed as having a losing tradition until this decade. The Reds were viewed as having a great tradition during the 70’s and for a long time after. A lot of fans/players still think of the Reds as having a great tradition. About 6-7 years ago John Kruk said that players want to play in Cincy because of their tradition and because it’s a great baseball town. Not sure if he’d say this now.

    And with improved competitive balance, the Yankees and Red Sox would not always be winning.

    It annoys me when people say (no one on this blog has) the Yankees have ALWAYS been good, free agency has nothing to do with it. The Yankees were NOT always good. Their dynasty ended after the 1964 season. As of 1965 they were dead in the water, a collection of old men and a lousy farm system that had stayed away from drafting players “of color.” They were a terrible team thru the rest of the 60’s and into the ’70s, then improved when Steinbrenner took over, but did not break thru to another WS win until they picked up free agent Reggie Jackson, proto-free agent Catfish Hunter, Gullet (who helped them in ’77), Goose Gossage in ’78 etc.

    Free agency brought the Yankees back. Free agency can’t and shouldn’t be abolished, obviously, but a strong players’ union has kept the basic agreement more in favor of the players than the fans.

  27. aaron

    Lower the Luxury Tax thresh hold and lower the percentage paid by teams. In 2010 the yankees are the only team paying the 40% tax. Drop it to 25% and make more big spending teams pay it. The teams will spend more and not be so afraid to go over. If we’ve seen anything it’s the big spenders don’t always win and little budgets done right can win.

    The NFL has a MAJOR problem creeping it’s way with the lack of a rookie salary cap.

  28. brublejr

    I didn’t mention it earlier but the one thing I would love to see taken from the NFL to MLB is the contracts. The only guaranteed money is the signing bonus then they have specific times when a player can be cut loose. I love that, if you don’t perform, out the door…

    Take Milton Bradley for example…The Cubs could have signed him for the same deal, except some of it would be signing bonus, then they could have cut him loose and not pay the last two years base salary, and then you don’t have to worry about trading him for another horrible contract/player. All they would have been out was 1 year base salary and the signing bonus.

  29. brublejr

    @Drew Nelson: Some great ideas, BTW, I wish MLB would see that some changes would really help the game. I like a lot of your ideas, but I don’t see too many of them happening unfortunately.

  30. Drew Nelson

    Personally I don’t see any “major” changes happening in baseball. They are stuck in their ways. They keep wanting to throw the “history” aspect at fans. History is great, but when it hampers your game and it’s ability to grow and prosper then you have issues. Back when baseball was king there was very few other viable choices now you have as an example NASCAR, which runs during the summer and is a major player on the sports stage and a place that takes money from MLB. Like it or not Soccer has made great strides and it also is a summer sport. Baseball no longer is the “game” and it needs to recognize that it’s fan base that loves baseball due to it’s history is getting older and dying off. Either baseball changes or it will slowly become a non factor. 😥

    • pinson343

      @Drew Nelson: Actually a lot of your suggestions respect the “history” aspect of baseball more than what’s there now. Selig and the owners are perfectly willing to cast aside tradition when it means more short term revenue. Some of your most important suggestions -pertaining to interleague play, more day games – will never happen because they would diminish the revenue stream, tv or otherwise, that’s coming in right now.

      In terms of this thread, number 9 is the biggie. The NFL did that right from the start, and it has helped them grow. But I don’t see how that could be done in baseball at this late point. Some teams have their own cable stations. And certain powerful owners and the players’ union wouldn’t go for it.

      • Drew Nelson

        If baseball is unwilling to change, then they are willing to remain the No. 3 or 4 sport. Right now it is the NFL, NBA, NASCAR ahead of them. All 3 of them have changed to address overall issues while baseball has remained stagnet.

        pinson343: @Drew Nelson: Actually a lot of your suggestions respect the “history” aspect of baseball more than what’s there now. Selig and the owners are perfectly willing to cast aside tradition when it means more short term revenue. Some of your most important suggestions -pertaining to interleague play, more day games – will never happen because they would diminish the revenue stream, tv or otherwise, that’s coming in right now. In terms of this thread, number 9 is the biggie. The NFL did that right from the start, and it has helped them grow. But I don’t see how that could be done in baseball at this late point. Some teams have their own cable stations. And certain powerful owners and the players’ union wouldn’t go for it.

  31. Deaner

    How about this… let’s let organizations have unlimited farm teams. That’s how the St. Louis Cardinals were able to compete with other clubs and build their dynasties of the 1940s and 50.

    • Drew Nelson

      You can have all the farm teams you want, when team X can outspend the majority of all other teams by 2 – 3 times you have an unfair system in place. No one or two teams should be able to spend 3-4 or even maybe 5 times then another team. How can anyone say that is fair?

      Deaner: How about this… let’s let organizations have unlimited farm teams. That’s how the St. Louis Cardinals were able to compete with other clubs and build their dynasties of the 1940s and 50.

  32. Y-City Jim

    Personally I think a lot could be accomplished by increasing the luxury tax. It should be equal to the number of dollars that a team goes over. In conjunction, there should be a minimum salary cap.

  33. Jeff

    Chris

    There is no need to even try to compare the two because its unfair to MLB. The NFL is a far superior in many ways and reasons.

  34. JustTheFacts

    Preach made a very interesting point about the Columbus market a few posts ago. The Reds have the possibility to become a big market team if they expanded into Columbus, Indy, Louisville, and Lexington. And why not. Indy may be a stretch with the Cubs being so close, but I have family in Indy and they are Reds fans. When I grew up in Virginia, I lived HOURS outside of D.C., but there was not other football team in my town but the Redskins. Each of the markets I meantioned are closer to Cincinnati than my home town was to D.C.. The Reds need to do a better job appealing to the nearby markets. You combine the area inside Indy, Louisville, Lexington, Charleston, and Columbus and you have a major market team.

    • pinson343

      JustTheFacts: Preach made a very interesting point about the Columbus market a few posts ago.The Reds have the possibility to become a big market team if they expanded into Columbus, Indy, Louisville, and Lexington.And why not.Indy may be a stretch with the Cubs being so close, but I have family in Indy and they are Reds fans.When I grew up in Virginia, I lived HOURS outside of D.C., but there was not other football team in my town but the Redskins. Each of the markets I meantioned are closer to Cincinnati than my home town was to D.C..The Reds need to do a better job appealing to the nearby markets. You combine the area inside Indy, Louisville, Lexington, Charleston, and Columbus and you have a major market team.

      JustTheFacts, I posted essentially the same comment a few weeks ago, in the context of the Reds expanding their market if they can put together a winning team. I’ve always lived near NY so you guys know the terrain near Cincy a lot better than I do, but I read once that the Reds had a lot of territory in the days of the Big Red Machine. No they’re not going to regain that level of play but they are competing with the Indians, Pirates, Cubs, and even Cardinals for fans. And they ought to be able to compete with those teams.

      I’ve also heard the argument (not necessarily true) that the Reds should not be considered a small market team, given their potential fan base outside of Cincinnati.

  35. preach

    @JustTheFacts:

    Indeed. And there are many in Indy who still remember the Reds AAA club there. It was a big market for the Reds for years.

  36. brublejr

    @JustTheFacts: It sounds good in theory, but when I lived just north of Indy, Cubs fans were 3 to 1 over Reds fans, possibly higher than that even. Even in my hometown in Indiana which is 50 minutes outside of Cincy, there are just as many Cubs fans as Reds fans…it’s sad but true. Now where I live, about an hour from Louisville, there are more Cardinals fans than Reds fans (although with Rolen there, some are coverting).

  37. MikeC

    Overall MLB revenues have increased substantially in the last few years primarily due to huge ticket increases associated with teams moving into new stadiums. Attendance has stagnated and is down in 2009. The recession played it’s part, but here are average team attenmdance figures for the last pre-strike year and the last two years:
    1993 – 2,509,926
    2008 – 2,619,704
    2009 – 2,451,789
    What happened since the strike? The big market teams figured out how to manage their dollars to buy the best teams in the game. The fans of the rest of the teams in the league know their team doesn’t really have a chance of winning everything. Attendance rise shifts around from team to team as they get their one crack at making it like Tampa Bay did a few years ago. Look at the current Brewers. They tasted the playoffs two years ago, but now are struggling to find a way to put together a team that can get back. When Fielder’s current contract runs out, he’ll be gone as a free agent and the team will be back to rebuilding.

    Baseball can not get rid of revenue sharing. The disparity in team income is too great. However, the current system has devolved into the small market teams needing a supplement from big market teams. So the Yankees and Red Sox have to spend ever larger amounts of money to attract big name players to keep attendance up so they have money to share. How to fix revenue sharing is a complete subject of its own. First baseball needs to increase attendance.

    The way to do so is give fans a reason to believe that, if their team does put together a good team, teams will compete for a period of time – not just a year or two before the good players leave. Somewhat along the lines of the early to mid-90’s Reds. Yes the team did struggle with salary, but not to a degree that they had to blow up the team and start rebuilding after two years.

    This post is getting lengthy, so I will follow with another that proposes a solution to increasing attendance.

  38. MikeC

    To lessen the need of the small market teams reliance upon the big market teams revenue, the small market teams need to be able to compete for a playoff spot on a regular basis (providing management fields a good team). This would increase their attendance base and revenue.

    Expanding the playoffs is not the answer. The season would have to be shortened to keep from playing in late Novmeber. Besides, what’s the point in having a long baseball season if half the teams make the playoffs?

    MLB should be re-organized into league’s and divisions along geographic location and economic similarities. There should be 2 leagues, which I will call the Big league and the Little league. The Big league divisions should be (with 2008 revenue figures in millions as reported by Forbes:
    Big East:
    NYY – $375
    BOS – $269
    NYM – $261
    PHI – $216
    West Coast:
    LAD – $241
    LAA – $212
    SF – $196
    SEA – $189
    Monsters of the Midway:
    Cubs – $239
    White Sox – $196
    Hou – $194
    Cards – $195
    The Little league should be:
    Great Lakes:
    ATL – $186
    DET – $186
    CLE – $181
    MIL – $173
    TOR – $172
    MIN – $158
    Mountain:
    COL – $178
    ARI – $177
    TEX – $176
    SD – $174
    OAK – $160
    KC -$143
    Dredges:
    WAS – $184
    BAL – $174
    CIN – $171
    TB – $160
    PIT – $144
    FLA – $139
    Each league has 3 division winners and 1 wild card team. The Big market teams get a better chance of making the playoff (1 in 3) and the World Series (1 in 12) for all the money they spend. The Little league teams still get a 22% chance (4 in 18) of making the playoffs and some team has to go to the Series. Rivalries will be built, as always happens, with competition. Real competition and a chance to see your team rewarded for making good player moves will build attendance. The increase in revenue improves the likelihood a team cam keep or add some good players.

  39. brublejr

    @MikeC: Interesting…but very unlikely to happen. I would throw in Det and Atl with the big market teams. Detriot’s payroll is pretty high and Atlanta has basically the whole south to draw from.

  40. earl

    I was also thinking that a complete realignment might be interesting and positive for the game, but the history of baseball will never allow it to happen. That being said, the way that the divisions are aligned is kind of screwy where the NL Central has 6 clubs and the AL West only has 4. I have no reason to wonder why it would make a difference, but I wonder with the NL having 2 extra clubs does that cause an impact of some kind?

    To be honest, baseball would be better off getting rid of about 2-4 clubs anyway. Sad thing is that it would probably take out a historical club like the Pirates if that were to happen.

    If they did realignment, ESPN would ONLY talk about the East. Not that they don’t anyway, but if the East had the Mets and Phillies included, they would never talk about anything else.

  41. JustTheFacts

    Excellent remark Pinson.

    Well, mark me down as a convert. I think the general idea I’ve gotten from this is that a cap is not necessarily a good idea unless there is a large gap between a floor and a ceiling. Revenue sharing sounds a bit socialistic to me, however, I think the idea that the MLB owns all TV revenue and all money is distributed equally. Teams

    The NFL has a saying, “Any given Sunday”. The difference between the Raiders/Browns and the Colts/Saints is less than 10% (i.e on a 52 man roster, the difference is about 5 players). I feel the gap is much more substancial in MLB as it relates to a percentage of a 25 man roster. The difference between the Nationals to the Yankees is much greater than 2 or 3 players. True, any team can beat any team, but I strongly believe if you increase the competition throughout the MLB, baseball nationwide will come back.

    That said, I feel the Reds are 2 Phillips/Votto/Rolen level players shy.

  42. brublejr

    I have been thinking this over for while now, and I think a complete realignment would do wonders for MLB. I also think that they should scrap this stupid schedule where you play your divison opponents a million times a year. I would lengthen the season by 6 games at the beginning of the season in order for every team to play everyone.

    There would be 6 five team divisions, which means interleague play would happen on and off throughout the year. So I propose that each division would play their divisional opponets 4 – 3 game series, league opponents 2 – 3 game series, and other league opponets 2 – 2 games series. This would be 48 games in division, 60 for the rest of the league, and 60 for the other league. This way no team has an advantage by playing crappy teams over and over. Everybody would play home and away to equal everything out.

    This would be my new divisions:
    AL East
    NYY
    NYM
    BOS
    PHI
    TOR

    AL North
    DET
    CHC
    CHW
    MIL
    MIN

    AL West
    LAA
    LAD
    SD
    SF
    OAK

    NL South
    BAL
    WAS
    ATL
    TB
    FLA

    NL Midwest
    CIN
    STL
    KC
    CLE
    PIT

    NL Mountain
    COL
    ARI
    TEX
    HOU
    SEA

    I know it would never happen, but I think it would make things interesting that is for sure.