The Emperor Has No Clothes

Okay, okay.  I’m happy that baseball has signed a new agreement and there will be no strike for the next five years.  I get it.  I remember the previous strikes and no baseball definitely equaled no fun.  But someone has to stop this maniac who presides over Major League Baseball.  Someone has to shout from the highest mountain that the emperor has no clothes.

I’ve noticed after the gleeful announcement that an agreement had been signed that some of my fellow baseball journalists are finally getting the point and are calling it what it is– a shambles and a shame.  Some of my fellow journalists have even put aside the relief that there will be no baseball strike for the next few years and managed to see past another chapter in the disastrous reign of King Bud. This is an agreement which serves no one but the rich and powerful of the owners and the television networks.  Again, the average fan such as me has been left out of the equation amidst the joyous pronunciations of those who run the game.

An agreement for the sake of an agreement is often not an advantageous result, no matter the industry.  Smiles and handshakes all around do not constitute success.  The, at least we did something, simply doesn’t cut it.   The smiles looked more painful than joyful.  Lessons were not learned and successful models were not followed.  Profits should not be the only thing that matters and baseball should not become like all the other sports.  It was unique.  Now it is on the precipice of that slippery slope of mediocrity and sameness.  Nothing that needed to be fixed was, all in the name of profit.

The luxury tax instituted way back when was a good idea… in theory.  But in actual fact, it was little or no restriction at all.  Teams such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox could afford to spend at will and could and can afford any luxury taxes which may be imposed on them.  These taxes were and are distributed amongst the so called smaller market teams but with no accountability as to how this money should be spent.  Love him or hate him, the late George Steinbrenner had a valid point.  He stated that he didn’t mind paying a luxury tax, the price of success, but he did mind that those owners who receive this money could merely pocket the cash and continue to neglect the product on the field.  There was no minimum team salary in place. Franchises like Pittsburgh continue to pocket this money, charge high ticket prices, and field poor teams. This was not addressed.

Now we have regulations in place which punish small market teams for spending the necessary money to sign high round draft picks.  This will effectively limit their ability to sign such potentially franchise altering players and allow the rich teams which can afford any penalties to snap them up and continue their dominance of the sport.   Selig makes the argument that baseball is one of the few sport to field different championship teams almost every season but this argument is deceptive.  It is based on mediocre teams qualifying for the wild card berth and getting hot at the right time.

This brings me to additional wild card teams.  This will see more and more barely above .500 teams making the playoffs each season.  The one game playoff format is interesting and may serve to make a first place finish meaningful once again.  However, once a team survives this sudden death round, the roll of the dice playoff situation again rears its ugly head.  Where is the disadvantage to winning 83 games?  If home field advantage is as important as Selig seems to believe, why are wild card teams not disadvantaged throughout the playoffs?  A second place finish shouldn’t mean as much as a first place finish above and beyond those fluke seasons whereby a second place team has a better record than a division elsewhere.  The wild card, albeit giving more fans in more cities hope deeper into a season, is really little more than a money grabbing scenario for the teams and baseball in general.

I’m just getting started.

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