It's the middle of January, which can only mean it's time for baseball owners to get together in the sunshine and collude! This year, the small market owners are breaking away from the script and talking about a salary cap, mostly because the Yankees just committed a half-billion dollars to three gentlemen. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is pretty vocal about instituting an anti-competitive cap, probably because his biggest fish from his playoff team just got eaten by the Yankees.
"I would ask, if it's such a bad idea, what sport doesn't have a salary cap other than us?" Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said Wednesday.
The answer, Mark, would be 'none', because no other sport has such a powerful players union as baseball, where players actually get 'compensated' at a fair rate for services provided. Well, almost every player. The collective bargaining agreement between owners and players expires in 2011; does Attanasio really think the players will ever agree to cap their earnings just to even the playing field a bit?
Besides, other sports like the NFL share their television revenue. The individual teams all sup from the gigantic teat of the FOX, CBS, ESPN, and NBC money pit. The games themselves are scarce, so TV ponies up big dough for the rights to show 'em. Baseball's revenue structure is far different; each team makes their own money with their own regional sports network or local TV deal. So we should let the teams dictate their own expenses based on their incomes. If you tell the Red Sox they cannot spend more than $100 million on player salaries, how are they going to spend that $50 million surplus? Perhaps they'll redirect it towards player development costs and signing bonuses, making it even harder for Attanasio's Brewers to compete.
"I think there's a lot of owners that would like to have that right now," Oakland owner Lew Wolff said. "I think the parity is what we're looking for, and the more ways you can get to parity the better. I think it's pretty good now, but I think it could be better.
Parity? Eight different teams have won the World Series in the past 9 years. Twenty different teams have been in the playoffs in the past four years. Tampa Bay made the World Series last year with a payroll that was merely a fraction of a 100-loss Mariners team. How does a limit on payroll force parity when teams are free to make smart (and stupid!) decisions with the cash they have or don't have?
Don't cry too hard for these dudes anyway. They were partying it up at an 'exclusive mountainside resort' in Paradise Valley, Ariz, probably either the Sanctuary on Camelback (with a relaxing meditation garden!) or the InterContinental Montelucia. I doubt they're saving some cash and staying at the Knights Inn.