Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The only way to save baseball

Normally I would try to avoid a subject like this. While I enjoy watching some sports, something in me feels like it’s an empty albeit entertaining diversion from our everyday lives. While a little time diverted isn’t so bad, there are people who devote their entire lives the viewing of others perform, the memorization of statistics, and those who make a living in sports radio who do nothing but get on an athlete’s case about their performance etc. I t just seems so wasteful when there are really terrible things going on in the world and some idiot is screaming for blood because some outfielder made a comment about having to wake up early to play day games at Wrigley.

I’m not even that big a baseball fan, football is the only sport that captures my attention for any extended period of time. However the prospect of baseball going on strike is discouraging, even if the only real consequences in my life are that I will have one less item on my list of things to do when friends from out of town visit. There are few experiences quite like Wrigley in the summer on a Friday afternoon leaving work early, whether you like baseball or not. That’s not even taking into consideration the interests of those who will be out of work and have no million dollar contracts - hot dog and beer vendors, and all those people who make a living at or around the ballpark not related to the game directly.

However good ideas are not easy to come by and really brilliant ones are far and few between, and I feel like I’ve stumbled across a real solution for MLB’s woes. It probably won’t happen, but it’s worth putting it out there.

Let it be said I think both sides are greedy, but despite the fact that the players have basically won every strike since … since they started striking, the owners are the real fools here, or at least enough of them that they are more to blame for this situation. Recently the owner of the Texas Rangers Tom Hicks made a comment about having to put a cap on salaries. This is the same idiot that gave Alex Rodriguez $252 million dollars over 10 years, about $50mil more than any other ballclub would have offered. Mr. Hicks basically competed against himself. He could have paid A-Rod 200 mil and made him the highest paid player but he had to outdo himself by a landslide and gave him an extra 50 mil.

So basically the owners sound like they are saying something to the effect of “Please stop us before we shoot ourselves.” By creating some rule that inhibits gratuitous and quite frankly just plain stupid giveaways to players like this, the owners will have an excuse to use, so when contract time is up for someone they can plead “It’s those darn rules that keep us from paying you what you deserve”. This is what goes on in the NFL. Those “darn rules” are completely self-imposed. It’s good for the owners and it does create a sense or parity, but it’s getting annoying to see a team stripped of its players as soon as it has some success because it can’t afford to keep them all.

My brilliant solution to saving baseball; to be honest the idea itself isn’t so much brilliant as the way to achieve it is. Baseball NEEDS revenue sharing, and this is the only way to save the sport. Revenue sharing is nothing new, I know, but what are the obstacles to revenue sharing in baseball? (If you’re gonna pull that free market rhetoric, save it cause I’m gonna tell you why you have your head up your ass in my next post) There are a couple of reasons why, but the biggest is the 800 pound gorilla known as the New York Yankees, or more accurately George Steinbrenner.

However there is simple way to change this, and it’s so simple it’s almost too good. The teams that have the most to gain from revenue sharing are the small market teams like Kansas City and Minnesota. Even mid to large market teams that aren’t drawing all that well, like the Chicago White Sox and Detroit, would benefit if the Yankees weren’t the only team that looked like it had a serious shot come October. Baseball is losing fans because of the lack on interest and lack of competition. The solution is simple – all these teams need to unite and do one thing that will very quickly change Steinbrenner’s opposition to revenue sharing and in turn save professional baseball. That one thing is -


See what happens? Currently the Yankees have their own cable station showing the games. Without home games to show all that revenue from advertising is up in smoke. What about all those tickets you sold? Are the fans gonna pay to watch Jeter field fungos and Giambi hit batting practice? All those tickets will have to be refunded. They will have no product! 3 weeks and the impenetrable fortress of Team Steinbrenner will seem more vulnerable than a Florida trailer park in hurricane season.

It is the only way… unless all the owners can unite and get on the same page THE OWNERS WILL LOSE AGAIN TO THE PLAYERS UNION. Unless your team is the Yankees you will get the short end of the stick. Without owner unity you will crumble like a stale cookie. With owner unity you have a fighting chance.

If you give a crap about baseball I’d suggest you start chirping about this. Link this page (gratuitous plugs for me of course) write your local baseball team, do anything if you care. Do it now or the strike will surely kill professional baseball.

Personally, I don’t care that much, ‘cept for the aforementioned workers not involves with playing the game. I just want credit for the idea and gratuitous links. You heard it here first.


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