[sigh] I have to go over this one more time, because I just heard it again. I was lamenting the Yankees (and to a MUCH lesser extent the Mets) just spending ridiculous amounts of cash and rendering MLB a joke on a lot of levels. Anyone who reads The Pinetar Rag is well aware of this, and probably tired of it too.
So a guy I know accuses me of being “Socialist” because I complain about the bigger market teams out spending the small market teams by 10-1 at times.
Here’s the correction: “Socialism” is the situation when GOVERNMENTS heavily tax their population under the guise of providing goods and services that would otherwise be provided by the private sector. So instead of choosing the item and paying for it out of your pocket, the government takes the money out of your pocket, in the form of taxes, and provides their government version of the service. You no longer make the choice–the politician and the voters who stamp it, make that decision for you. Once it’s made, you have no other options.
Now in baseball, it’s a professional sports league. The league is holding out to the public, the concept that their contests will be fair contests among the teams. If the contests were not viewed as “fair”, by the paying public, they would not pay money to see them–would not waste their time. This is the concept behind the anti-gambling stance of Major League Baseball; to keep the game’s on-the-field-fairness-and-integrity sacrosanct, because everyone’s lively hood rests on that cornerstone. A guy mixed up in gambling might be willing to “sell” games, as Hal Chase of the Yankees did with abandon in the 19-oughts and teens.
When I advocate that the league do something (salary cap) to prevent the Yankees from just buying up players and spending over 200 million while the lesser clubs have to get by on 30, 40 and 50 million, I advocate it because I don’t think the on-field contests are fair anymore. How can they be? I think the integrity of the game is compromised when the Yankees can do what they have been doing with all that money. The Yankees’ spending is antithetical to fair contests. It SHOULD be viewed with great alarm, but somehow, it isn’t.
The person who called me “Socialist” for wanting to cap or curb the kind of spending the Yankees do, is mixing up the contexts. I don’t want the government to steal my freedom (taxes) and force me to take or leave their sub-par “services” whether I like it or not–with no “opt-out”, like with Social Security. I’m not a Socialist. That’s governments, got it?
But when I invest my time in a baseball game, I want some assurances that the deck isn’t just RIGGED with CASH, like it is now! I want the league to address it themselves so I don’t have to think about it; so I can just enjoy the game.
The league is an artificial contrivance; a closed system. By limiting the Yankees’ cash-sledgehammer, they are not being “Socialist”, they are actually delivering the product that they promised me; a fair product.
Anyone with a modicum of intelligence can look at a demographic map of the USA and see plainly, that all metro areas are not created equal, and thus, teams in those areas are not on equal footing with regard to generating cash!
Kansas City has 1.9 million souls. Click here to bring up numbers in a new window
NY/NJ/CT metro area has about 19 million.
Only an idiot would set up a system where these two areas are considered “equal” in terms of cash generation. You’re supposed to have a fair contest on the field but you are going to ignore these numbers? My goodness.
So don’t advertise a “fair” fight on the field, when anyone who thinks about it knows it isn’t that way.
By this time in the fact-pattern, (usually from Yankee fans) I hear the talking points recited from memory, as if the Steinbrenners sent out a memo from their war-room, deep in the bowels (or the vault) of Yankee Stadium. I’ll address the more common ones:
(1) Money isn’t everything: look at the [names most recent high spending team that didn't win]
It doesn’t invalidate the Yankees’, cash-sledgehammer model if some other team wastes a lot money. My goodness; anyone can blow through money! Just because a fool squanders his money doesn’t decrease the VALUE of money, and the mountains it can move, for everyone else! All it does is prove that one team and its management, was foolish that particular season, and no more.
The thought process is because the 1997 Orioles blew a ton of money, the Yankees can spend 100% more than the league mean, every year, and no one is supposed to notice?
Guess what? We noticed. The Orioles were stupid, but we’re not!
(2) The Yankees pay lots of luxury tax, and the “cheap” owners just pocket it
They do pay this but it is a pittance. This money can not lift a Pittsburgh, KC or Cincinnati out of where they are: in small cash markets. What it amounts to, in my opinion, is a line item on the MLB (and Yankees’) Public Relations Income Statement. It is MLB’s way of fooling it’s customers (remember the fans?) into thinking, “see, we have addressed the spending disparity in our sport).”
No you haven’t! Not even close! Since this thing went into action in 2003, the Yankees have paid out about 20 million per year. During that same time, they outspent the league by an average of about 110 million PER YEAR! So, even if you gave the FULL Yankee luxury tax to ONE average team spending 90 million dollars, the Yankees would STILL have outspent them by a whopping 90 million dollars, or, about DOUBLE.
Does that sound like they addressed it to you? Me neither. I’m not buying this. But be fair, it’s wonderful PR, because many, many fans buy in 100% to this nonsense that the system is somehow fair. And the media aids and abets the deceit, as they usually do in cases such as this.
(3) Owners like Pollad of Minnesota are billionaires who could easily write some checks and keep up with the Yankees.
This is my favorite because of it is the most “Candyland” of them all. The premise is, “…the guy’s rich, so what if his team is in a small market, if he wants to compete with the Yankees, he can write checks out of his personal bank account!”
Listen closely to what’s being said. The owner, because others feel he “has the money”, should just DONATE his own PERSONAL money to his business, to keep up with the Yankees, otherwise, he is, somehow, not a “sport”. This concept could be the height of Yankee-fans’-arrogance and stupidity. For the honor of spending like a lunatic Steinbrenner, owner-X should PAY. Pay for it himself. Even if his business LOSES money in the process.
They want to tell another man how to run his business, and, basically, that he should run his business AT A LOSS, so that the Yankees and their fans don’t have to feel self-conscious about out spending the league by over a 100 million dollars every year! I guess the Kool-Aid is: It’s ok that we spend like pigs because Pollad has untouched money in the bank. [shaking my head] My goodness…
(4) The Yankees won with home grown guys like Bernie and Jeter and Posada. It wasn’t money!
Because George Steinbrenner was banned from baseball and couldn’t trade them all away (he tried very hard to dump Bernie–read “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty” by Buster Olney), they DID have a home-grown nucleus, I’ll grant you.
But why did they win 4 titles in 5 years? MONEY. They payroll was the highest in baseball EVERY ONE of those championship years. And the nucleus was young and not making the obscene money yet, so SOMEONE must have been paid to come in and help, and they were. Mostly the big ticket pitchers. The Key’s and Cone’s and Clemen’s and so forth. So while yes, there were home-grown guys on the roster, don’t be fooled: the dynasty was resting on cash; lots of it. Cash that towns like KC and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati don’t have access to. Make no mistake.
(5) See? Small market teams CAN win. [referring to 2003 Marlins]
Yes, it’s true, in 2003 the 150 million dollar Yankees lost to the 49 million dollar Marlins. It can happen. That’s because home field in baseball is only a 4% edge and the biggest edge you’re ever likely to see in the post-season is only about 65%, which means that 35 times out of 100, the lousy team will beat the juggernaut in a series.
But let’s examine what’s really behind this talking point. Yankee fans throw this one out there as if to say, “sure we spend a lot, but you don’t have to spend to win…” This is supposed to deflect attention from their massive cash outlays each year.
But there are 30 teams in MLB. And the mean payroll in 2007 was 80 million. [click to see numbers] So let’s call 10 of them, the bottom third, truly “small market”.
Here are the last 10 world series winners:
2008 Phillies, 2007 Red Sox, 2006 Cardinals, 2005 White Sox, 2004 Red Sox, 2003 Marlins, 2002 Angles, 2001 DBacks, 2000 Yankees, 1999 Yankees
I can really only call the Marlins truly, “small market”. So let’s double it and say that twice every 10 years, a small market team scales the heights. So you might be tempted to think that, “…sure, about every 5 years, we have a puncher’s chance to run-out in the postseason”.
But not so fast! There are 10 small market “trials” EVERY season! That’s 10, different small market teams placing their small bets and spinning the wheel every year! And out of all 10, only ONE of THEM scales the heights every 5 years or so. But if you are one particular small market team, then you might have to wait longer. You might have to wait 10 times 5 years = 50 years for your number to come up. That’s the difference between referring to the population, and a given team IN the population. Neat trick there, Yankee fans, but we ain’t buying it. Being a fan in a small market stinks. We watch our good players hit arbitration and then end up on the Yankees and coming back into town to kick the snot out of us.
Sure PNC park is the nicest place on Earth to watch a ballgame, but don’t blow the Yankee smoke up our bippies. Please. –Fog