Baseball Needs Salary Cap

The Royals Win! Incredible!

The Royals Win! Incredible! Photo by VP

My wife and I took our children and my parents to the Kansas City Royals game Monday night, a Father’s Day gift for my dad and our first trip out to the refurbished Kauffman Stadium this season. Fortunately, the Royals won 4-2. I just wish they could do it more often.

The Royals and other small-market teams throughout the league will continue to suffer as long as Major League Baseball refuses to institute team salary caps. This is the only way parity will ever return to the league, keeping big-market programs from treating smaller rivals like farm teams from whom all the major talent is harvested

According to USA Today (1), the Royals’ total payroll at the start of this season was just more than $70.5 million. While that seems like a great deal of money, the Royals’ payroll is 21st out of the 30 MLB teams.

This is an astonishing $131 million BELOW the payroll of the New York Yankees, who top the list at nearly $201.5 million. Alex Rodriguez alone has a salary of $33 million this year, nearly half of the ENTIRE payroll of the Royals. How can smaller market teams such as the Royals compete with that? While a small-market team might play a good hand one season, are not the cards just totally stacked against them?

The past two years, teams high on the payroll list won the World SeriesPhiladelphia last year and Boston in 2007. Since 2000, only two teams with total payrolls lower then the median of $80.5 million have taken the championship.

Out of the six division leaders so far this season, only one (Milwaukee) has a total payroll lower than the median, but it is the next one down at nearly $80.2 million. No team with total salaries below $80 million tops a division, as the other top five teams are all in the top 10 when it comes to total payroll, all over the $100 million mark.

Taking a look at the teams residing at the bottom of each division is truly eye-opening. Of the six teams in last place, only one (Cleveland) is above the median total payroll, and the Indians are merely the next step up at $81.6 million. As a matter of fact, four of the six last place teams are in the bottom eight on the payroll list. Does anyone else see any significance in that?

While attempts have been made to help out smaller market teams, mainly through revenue sharing, not enough is being done to even the playing field. David Jacobson of bNet (2) makes a big deal out of how the Royals received $32 million in the 2006 season due to revenue sharing, while the Yankees paid out more than $76 million. What Jacobson fails to note is that the $32 million the Royals received would not even pay for ONE Alex Rodiguez!

Without revenue sharing, there simply would be no professional baseball. The 13 high-revenue teams would continue for awhile, as the other 17 teams withered and died. Eventually, the lack of varied competition and a national presence would kill the league altogether.

Without salary caps, however, there simply will not be equality in the MLB. If I am a high-caliber player, I am going to be picked up by a high-revenue team. It is as simple as that. The quality players gravitate to the money, and who can blame them?

This happens to the Royals all the time. I cannot even list the names of the all the young talent that has been stolen away from the Royals by teams with big wallets. I just start getting a good chant for a young star (such as Raul Ibanez) and suddenly they are snatched away.

Come on, MLB; get with the program. It is time for salary caps. It is working out well for the National Football League. Please, just do it. I don’t want to lose Billy Butler (whom I have dubbed “Billy the Kid”), too!

 (1) http://content.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/salaries/totalpayroll.aspx?year=2009

(2) http://www.bnet.com/2403-13502_23-210897.html

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5 responses to “Baseball Needs Salary Cap

  1. The salary cap works for the NFL, because of the sheer amount of players on each team, the fact there are only 8 possible games to go to, and each stadium is packed every game. Hockey has to do it, otherwise they’d be dead as a major sport since you find less and less American born players all the time and the skill level is better overseas. Basketball has a salary cap, but major market teams have laughed at that. The Knicks pay a penalty every year for going over it.

    A salary cap would actually kill baseball as we know it. The owners that have been successful would scoff at sharing their revenue if they have a cap on spending. If I was a major market owner, I wouldn’t share my decreased revenue if I can’t bring in the biggest stars because of money constraints.

    The smaller market teams need to do a better job of selling their product, plain and simple. It’s not the fault of people in Boston, if people in KC and others can’t fill their seats paying alot less than they do in Boston to see the same product.

    The stars also will go to major markets regardless of a cap or not. KC likely still won’t have a chance to sign a Alex Rodriquez because even if KC offers a million more per year, he can easily make that up in exposure, which means more endorsements. I also think a lot of the major market teams have always taken on more risk than their smaller counterparts. If they are afraid to make a splash, they won’t experience the waves of success. It also doesn’t help that the smaller teams aren’t willing to sell the company to a billionaire or a corporation that can support the increase in revenue. If I was a billionaire in say Milwaukee, you see the team get turned around. Some of he smaller market teams have penny pinching owners that rely on the income the teams provide. An owner that doesn’t rely on solely his business to support him, can take a short term loss, for future profit and many have, willing to gamble on the drawing power of a star player.

    • Vantage Point Productions

      Tim,

      Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion. In many ways, you are probably right. I just can’t help disagreeing because I am biased by the fact that I reside in a small-market city with a small-market team!

      It just seems like there was a time when the Royals could compete in the big leagues and, for some reason, that time has passed. Maybe, it’s the owners; maybe, it’s the lack of revenue; or maybe, it’s a combination of both. I don’t know. I just want to see the Royals do well again!

      Thanks, Tim, for taking the time to read and respond to the article. I greatly appreciate it.

      Sincerely,

      VP

      • I’d like to see the Royals do well myself, maybe greater revenue sharing is the key. Lower the luxury tax threshold so the more successful teams contribute a bigger chunk of money. That’s not failsafe though. There are franchises in the black, and the owners rather than reinvest in the product, pocket a big portion of the money they didn’t earn, that should be used to further the team. They are always worried about the next years profits because they field losing teams and they get paranoid they might need that money just in case.

        If I was in your market, I would appreciate the attempt even if it’s a failure to improve their record in the end. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  2. walt harrison

    I do not totally disagree with having salary caps, but I think part of the root of the problem, and something that has caused the death of professional sports is the free agent. There is no loyalty whether it be the player or the sports stadium itself. Do not get me wrong, when neal smith left the chiefs to play with a team that had a chance at the superbowl, I could not blame him, especially since he had been with the chiefs for numerous years and was at the end of his career. I am talking about players that play a couple of years with one team, and because they are not making enough money, they leave. Just like stadiums, the clevel browns were die hard fans, and the stadium was always packed. the team left to go to become the baltimore ravens. Sports have become more of a big business than a profession, just my opinion.

    • Vantage Point Productions

      Walt,

      Regretably, you are right. It is more about money now than it is about the game. When the AVERAGE baseball player makes more than $2.5 million a year, how can it not be just about the money? Professional sports have become a sad metaphor for the greed that consumes us.

      Sincerely,

      VP

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