Sunday, August 05, 2007

Base-Blogging: There’s more to baseball than Barry Bonds

Last Night in San Diego, California the ever-enlarging Barry Bonds hit his 755th home run tying Hank Aaron’s record. I was at PNC Park in Pittsburgh during this event, which was shown immediately after the Pirates lost to the Reds in extra innings in a hard-hitting contest to prove just exactly who is the worst team in baseball.

But why is it that you can have perpetually bad teams like the Pirates and Reds while the big money teams: The Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox, are paying for the smaller money teams to stay where they are.

Since Revinue Sharing in Major League Baseball started the basic principle is that the big market teams, as stated above, will share their profits with the rest of Major League Baseball. Now the flaw with this system is that there is so much money coming in because these three teams will pay the best athletes to play for them, they’re in the big cities that love baseball and get great TV ratings so commercial revenue is through the roof.

Now if you’re a small market team where your games are broadcast somewhere on basic cable and your record is such that CSI reruns get higher TV ratings in your city you can actually not bother paying quality athletes on your team, take the revenue sharing cash and operate a baseball stadium knowing that the game is just too much fun for people to not show up.

Now obviously we’re dealing with rich greedy owners and that’s the problem. But it can also be the solution. You see Greed is the easiest of the seven deadly sins to manipulate because it is quantifiable. You can put a number on greed and usually a dollar sign in front of that number.

It’s easy to compare Baseball with Football because the National Football League has a system of salary capping that keeps each team’s payroll within a certain standard deviation. The thought process behind this is that each team will have the same amount of money to spend on players so that each team gets approximately the same quality of players as determined by free market forces dictating the worth of a player.

The salary cap is not perfect but much better than the Revenue sharing system. However it is possible to revive the Revenue sharing system to bring back baseball. Even though all the money is in Boston New York and Chicago these teams aren’t running away with every World Series. Just a few years ago the Flordia Marlins took the Series from the Yankees when one player from the New York Nine was making more than the entire Florida dugout. Therefore it is possible that a team of hard working under-paid ball players can win baseball’s biggest crown.

On the other hand you have the Cubs, even being one of the top markets in the league, so much so building owners across the street from the stadium pay royalties to the team for seats sold there. Yet the Cubs have not been in the mix of winning championships recently as much as the other big money teams. This proves that it’s not a money problem in baseball; it’s a competition problem.

The reason for this is that not every owner of every baseball team is George Steinbrenner, who I would call a baseball fan first and a baseball owner second. So let’s re-organize revenue sharing so that it benefits greedy owners and their fans. At the end of each year we should reward good teams with more of the Revenue Sharing pool than bad teams. This then becomes an incentive for teams to do well. Owners would then have profits tied to their record.

I’m a Pirate fan, and it’s not that I’m asking for them to win the World Series, I just want to see them try for a change!

Speaking of the World Series I’m fairly certain that I can accurately predict the losers of this year’s fall classic. Having seen Ohio State loose both the collegiate football and basketball championships this year, the Cleveland Cavaliers loose the professional Basketball championship and recently the underdog Columbus Destroyers loose the indoor football championship, it’s pretty safe to say that Ohio is doomed to suffer many losses at a national level. Therefore with the Reds still far enough out of the mix to be inconsequential, I predict that the winner of the World Series will be the team playing the Cleveland Indians.

Even if that team is the Cubs!