MLB has a competitive balance issue
Time for the game to address it.
Good morning, all! I hope your week is off to a terrific start.
Major League Baseball has a competitive balance problem and one way to correct it is to institute a salary floor for its ball clubs. In other words, teams must spend a minimum amount on total players' salary. The concept is not new. The players association has been insisting on a floor for years, and my hunch is the concept will be a part of the upcoming negotiations between the union and ownership.
MLB does not have a salary cap either, but there is a salary tax - ostensibly to help the poorer clubs - if the salary threshold is broken. But that is not the issue. What is at play here are clubs tanking, once they determine they do not have a chance at making a serious run in the post season. What we have - because of free agency - are clubs selling off numerous stars at the trade deadline, under the guise that getting good prospects in return will lead the tanking-club into contention. But how valid is this approach? The old line is one team's prospects are another team's suspects. There is no guarantee these prospects will eventually lead their new club to the promised land.
As of this writing, the Chicago Cubs are in the throes of an 11-game losing streak, their second such streak this season. The Baltimore Orioles, who have been rebuilding for years, have also lost 11 straight. Correct me, but I believe the Cubs and Orioles are not lowering their ticket prices to match their poor play on the field. Meanwhile, the pennant contending clubs are also not served well, when one of their legitimate challengers is playing one of these blokes. This might not have been a big deal 60 years ago, when both the American and National Leagues also had the haves and the have-nots, but the schedule then was balanced. There are no more balanced schedules in today's era.
It's just like the seven-inning doubleheaders. The premise may have its supporters, but if you are the Philadelphia Phillies, contending with the New York Mets for a division crown, how do you feel, when you learn the Mets have already played 11 doubleheaders this season compared to your four? Think of the more innings being played by the Phillies and how taxing that is on their players and specifically bullpen?
Look, I understand that no schedule can create a balance to the nth degree, but baseball owes it to its fan base to demand clubs do their best to field a competitive product. Not every low-salary club is as successful as Tampa Bay. If MLB is going to promote legalized gambling on games - and these days you cannot watch a game on TV without some ad promoting baseball betting - then it needs to address this competitive balance issue, otherwise the optics of betting on games, involving tanking-clubs, makes the Black Sox scandal look like a misdemeanor. Instituting a minimum, team salary might be a worthwhile first step.
Field of Dreams Game a ratings hit
Last Thursday night's Field of Dreams Game in Iowa, between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox, was a hit all the way around, from how MLB presented the game to the ratings winner it turned out to be for FOX. It also served as a reminder of how our television viewing habits have fragmented. I write about why and present the evidence on my blog.
Talk about inspiring
Finally, how about some inspiration today? Check out this 96-year-old WWII Vet singing the National Anthem, before a recent minor league baseball game in Michigan. And if you see a Vet, remember to thank them for their service.
That is it for today. As always, thank you for your support and have a tremendous rest of the week.