Someone’s Wrong

If, at around 9:30 this morning, you did a Google News search for “baseball,” these two articles would have showed up right at the top:

1. “Yankees’ spending could hurt baseball“; and

2. “The Marlins, not the Yankees, are Killing Baseball.”


The first article is an editorial from a somewhat venerable newspaper of record in a somewhat venerable eastern industrial town. The second article appears to come from some random twentysomething blogger with interesting hair. My guess is that far more people read the paper every day than read that blog. Which is a shame, because the newspaper editorial is full of baloney, and the blogger, who actually marshals some facts and cogent arguments, is pretty much right.

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  1. Pete Toms said...

    Why do so many sports writers think baseball is broken?  Record attendance, record revenues…baseball has never been more popular.

    Salary cap has worked in the NFL because so much of the revenue in that league comes from national TV deals.  Look at the problems in the NHL post cap for an example of how it works in a gate driven league ( MLB is still very much reliant on attendance ).

    Parity and competitive balance are synonyms for mediocrity.  What is entertaining about mediocrity?

    Interesting that McLane has joined Attanasio (sic?) in publicly calling for a cap….

  2. John said...

    At least the Yankees and Marlins have both made it to the World Series in this decade.  If teams like the Mariners and Orioles had any idea how to use their resources correctly to assemble talent on the field, the competitive balance would be much better.

    We can’t just look at the highest and lowest payrolls and blame them for the lack of competitive balance.  Oakland and Minnesota always find a way to put talent on the field, even if it’s only for the pre-free-agency years.  ANY owner or GM who doesn’t understand how to make the most out of their financial position is bad for baseball.  The Marlins and Yankees are just the easy targets.

  3. TC said...

    “…marshals some facts and cogent arguments…”

    Yeah, like the one about getting Manny Ramirez on a 2 year deal.  Also, I think Jayson Stark talked about the Marlins spending less than their revenue share in 2006, so at least someone in The Establishment is talking about it.  For what it’s worth, the closest thing to a problem in baseball is, as John indicates: rampant, contagious stupidity. 

    To the relief of Cameron and Zumsteg, though, it would seem the Mariners have a winner in that new guy with the funny name.

  4. themarksmith said...

    Who would we make fun of if we had a salary cap? The Yankees are always good fun when they don’t win the World Series/make the playoffs.

  5. KY said...

    It seems like the NFL parity is a great thing to me.  His proposal is the Loria take 30 mill in profits and trade that for 2 players that may total 7 games in WAR + the seats they fill.  If I’m me, maybe I take a shot cause it fun.  But if I’m Loria and his ownership group, I’m the type of guy who takes the 30 mill in profit and runs.  Its also a cherry picking example.  Gordon Ash referred to working in Toronto as “can get depressing”.  I think Ash is more then qualified to speak about the effect of the Yankees advantage on other teams.

  6. jay11 said...

    The anti-Marlins article doesn’t really make any kind of argument as to why the Marlins are bad for baseball.

    He explains that their payroll is lower than the money that they get in revenue sharing….but doesn’t detail why that is bad for anyone.

    He explains that they trade young players at their peak value….but not why that is bad for anyone.

    He explains that the Marlins owner is making money on the Marlins….but not why that is bad for anyone.

    His reasoning seems to be that the Marlins DO NOT drive up free agent prices, DO NOT inflate the cost of an average player, force the big market/bit payroll teams to pay a premium for every dollar spent and still put a competative product on the field.  And this is somehow bad.

    How this is bad and who this is bad for is not explained.

  7. Craig Calcaterra said...

    How about bad for Marlins fans who never get to see their young players stay with the team because ownership won’t pay their salaries?  Or Miami residents who are going to be forced to pay a lot of money to give Jeff Loria a lot of money for a new stadium and won’t be getting any kind of concomitant investment from the team?  How about bad for other teams who are forced to subsidize the Marlins through revenue sharing, yet are not having them do anything to improve the long term competitive standing of their team with that money, which is the whole point of revenue sharing in the first place?

  8. hubcity said...

    Wonder if the Toronto GM was “depressed” when they won their World Series over the Braves?  Cry me a friggin river. Things go in cycles. This Rangers fan has never experienced anything close to what Blue Jays fans have and we’re not even in the big scary AL East.

    I like the free market and certainly take issue with an entire team payroll being covered by revenue sharing $$.  A good idea would be to put a clause that requires a team to have a payroll of double the free money to be able to get it all and if your payroll is less then the most free money you get is half your team salary. So if the share was $30MM then you have to have a payroll at $60MM to get it all. If your payroll is $30MM then you only get $15MM.

  9. jay11 said...

    Ok, I get the argument that the Marlins (actually Loria) are bad for Marlin fans.  Marlin fans deserve better.

    Being bad for Marlin fans and being bad for baseball are completely different.

    How is what Florida doing bad for Houston Astro fans?  Or Colorado Rockie fans?  Or Tiger fans?

    I think Tiger fans are more bothered by the fact that they had almost no shot at CC, Texeira and Burnett than they are by the fact that the Marlins didn’t sign a better 1st baseman or another pitcher.

    I’d certainly be pissed if I was a Marlin fan, especially if I was being taxed to pay for a new stadium.

    But the argument that they are bad for baseball falls kind of flat.  The argument would be stronger maybe if they hadn’t won so many World Series.

  10. Pete Toms said...

    @jay11 Were I a fan of a big market club I would think that the Marlins & Pirates are bad for my club.  Instead of my big spending club spending even BIGGER they would be subsidizing the construction of a new stadium in Miami and paying down debt in Pittsburgh.  That’s no good for fans of big market clubs and they count as fans too.

    In a larger context, I think the adjustments in the revenue sharing marginal tax rates in this CBA are having more and more of an impact.  I think small market teams are more motivated to invest in player salaries ( and amateur players ) rather than being crap and maxing out their welfare cheque than in the previous CBA.  I think we’re gonna see more of that as the FA market becomes more active.

  11. Joe Geshel said...

    As a rule, man’s a fool.  When it’s hot he wants it cool.  When its cool he wants it hot.  He always wants it what it’s not.

    That seems to describe baseball fans.  I have been one for nearly 60 years, so I know.  The record salaries neither hurt nor help baseball.  They enrich players which is what we all want, enrichment.  With television revenues and fan support, teams can affor to pay them.

    Sit back fans and enjoy the game.

  12. Chris said...

    It looks like the commenter in that article, ‘Jim’, makes some intriguing, if not convincing, points as to the Marlins just making do with what they can.

  13. Pete Toms said...

    I always say it. 

    The only thing baseball fans love more than baseball is complaining about baseball. 

    We’re attending in record numbers (MLB, MiLB & Independent) and watching in record numbers ( national TV ratings are irrelevant ).  There is no evidence that we are unhappy with it.

    There’s stuff I don’t like, DH (even though it’s been in the game more than 1/2 my life, intra league, 3 rounds of playoffs, “strength of schedule”….but the rep that the Selig and the owners have for ruining baseball and general incompetence is not defensible.  Labor peace, record attendance, record revenues, record franchise values (ok, maybe not anymore, but in the very recent past). 

    Guys ( and a few gals around here ) we’re the chattering classes.  We don’t matter.  In the great glut of 79 million or so who will go to games, we are a microscopic number.  Most folks who support pro baseball don’t know about or give a crap about 99.9% of what we go on about.  ( And I admittedly love it )

    Gotta get to the dinner table…

  14. Ted Spradlin said...

    At least someone said the Marlins skimping was bad for baseball as a counter argument to the cries of the end of baseball with each Yankee Free Agent signing. 

    But are either really bad?

    Theoretically, the Marlins and Pirates could become debt-free franchises in the next decade (minus stadium debt), putting together a decade of mid-market success, supplanting teams like the Cardinals or Astros, getting to the World Series several times in a 10 year span.

    The Yankees could implode with too much debt and become the Bear Stearns/Lehman Brothers of baseball.  We don’t know. 

    Baseball’s strength, just like that of the rest of the economy, will make out just fine after the re-valuation of assets to a much lower and affordable level.  We’re seeing this now in the free-agent market (except NYY).  Expensive long-term contracts are disappearing.  “Icon players” aren’t so iconic any more. Or juiced up either.

    With the right moves and baseball geniuses in place, teams like Florida and Pittsburgh could become todays Oakland A’s but with deeper pockets.  The game is fine.  A few teams aren’t so fine, but next decade they may be the model franchise, the way Kansas City and Toronto were in the 80’s and Cleveland was in the 90’s.

  15. Doug said...

    Why does one of them have to be wrong?

    Both extremes are (arguably) bad for baseball.

    The very-high-spending extreme distorts the market for the highest quality talent – pricing mid/small-market teams out of running for the Sabathia/Texieras of that year’s free agent period.  So these teams’ fans gradually lose interest.

    The very-low spending extreme makes baseball look like a welfare system for owners rich enough to buy teams, but disinterested in competing more than once out of every five years, all the while banking revenue sharing checks.  This reduces the public perception of the “fairness” of the system.

    I know, in the abstract, Yankee-hating could be viewed as “good for baseball”, because at least people are talking about the game.  But, I bet teams like the Orioles/Royals/Reds lose plenty of fans from continued lack of competitiveness.  That’s bad for baseball.

    I also know that money isn’t the ONLY factor in the winning equation.  Talented (and untalented) scouts, GMs, Managers (sorta) and luck all count too.  But it’s a factor, and I think it’s bad on both ends.

    IMNSHO, the NFL system keeps 20-22 major metros interested in its sport during each year, with it’s system of revenue sharing and salary caps levelling the playing field.  For the sport as a whole, this is a better system than MLB, where maybe a dozen major metros are “in the hunt” in any given year, and probably a third of the teams are out of it right out of the gate.

    Anyone know where I can get data on Starting/Ending Salaries by team, by year for MLB?

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