First of all, congratulations to Albert Pujols. If someone offered me a quarter BILLION dollars to play baseball, I would take the money too. While jealous, I do not hold it against him personally that he took the cash. He will receive, and deserves, massive scrutiny and opinion-turning that he's going to get in Saint Louis.
However, today's contract cements one thought for me: Bud Selig should be terminated as the Commissioner of baseball immediately.
The owners and players just reached a 5-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. The system doesn't change much, there is a luxury tax when a team's payroll reaches a certain level (just north of where the Phillies are now), but otherwise, there are no restrictions on how much a team can spend. Due to the national of baseball with local television contracts, this system skews towards major market teams.
Does Major League Baseball care about small market teams? No. They would argue look at the ratings. When Boston or New York have been in the World Series since 2000, the ratings have been no lower than 10.4. When both teams are missing? No higher than 9.5. Much like Tiger Woods in golf, the big market clubs drive Major League Baseball. With the amount of people in their cities, hence increased value of television contracts, no amount of revenue sharing except for complete will allow the playing surface to be even.
The person who could have stopped this? Bud Selig. He has to be able to see how the NFL has the GREEN BAY Packers, whose stadium is basically the same size as the population succeed and thrive. Not only are the people in Wisconsin happy, but they're attracting national interest. Sure Philadelphia fans don't care about them as much as the Eagles success or failures, but it's not like other sports where the season dies the second the home team is out.
At some point this system has to fail. Cable rates are going up, because someone has to pay for the increased television rights, and there's a building minority of people saying enough is too much and dropping cable. Attendance in Philadelphia has gone up as the team has won more and more games in the past decade, but at what point will it turn around and people realize they can't get into Citizens Bank Park for less than $30, money they need to pay for higher gas bills.
In addition, fans in Baltimore and Kansas City and Pittsburgh who were incredibly loyal where their teams were at least relevant are now going on 2 decades of no hope. Is some of that mismanagement of franchises? Sure, look at what Tampa Bay has done. But there are exceptions to nearly every rule. You have to be perfect, to even have a chance, or in a division with no other big spenders (See: Twins, Minnesota)
The one person who has the power to keep things within read in Bud Selig. He can save those franchises who are just drifting in the wasteland of money being spent by about 10 teams. The more likely thought based on his actions is that he simply doesn't care. Money is flowing, the rich are just getting richer, while the poor just get more frustrated and stop caring. Just remember, someone has to lose every game, and if you get rid of the small-markets, it could be the Yankees.
Bud, do something, or get out. You're no longer helping. Meanwhile, maybe the Orioles could ask Albert for a loan?
Posted at 11:19am on December 8, 2011 by Sean Greene
Sean, I wouldn't be overly concerned about it. People will do without whatever they have to do without because they're addicted to sports. They'll let the gas bill go late if they have to. And not just in sports, but other types of entertainment as well. For example, my wife and I went to a Neil Diamond concert back in 1984 when he was in his prime at age 43. The price? $18 per ticket. I thought the world had come to an end! But from June thru September 2012, the soon-to-be 71-year-old Neil Diamond will be doing yet another concert tour with an average ticket price of $262! And no matter what Neil Diamond costs, he sells 'em all out.
No Sean, I wouldn't worry about this at all. People will sacrifice new shoes for their kids in order to pay for entertainment if that's what it takes.
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