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 Series — Philadelphia 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!