With all of the talk today centering around the Mitchell Report I thought I would tackle a baseball issue that has nothing to do with steroids.
Baseball is getting out of hand, to sign an average player these days it is going to cost you around $10 to $15 a year. Then you have guys like A-Rod that stand to make double that. While some small market teams have succeeded in breaking into the playoffs and even win a title from time to time the truth is that you have to pay to play in the MLB.
(A-Rod cashed in, just hours before the Mitchell Report)
There have been countless talks of a salary cap in baseball, and the truth is that there is already one in place. The current system basically sets a Luxury tax that teams must pay if they spend too much. In theory it should work, the money goes from the higher payroll teams and is given to the small market teams. Sort of like a Robin Hood idea. This is also something that the union can agree on, because it does not limit the amount players can make. The problems have come with some teams still going crazy with the spending while the small market teams use the money given to them to line the owner's pockets.
(the MLB has been liked to money for years)
You see one major draw of the NFL is that your team is in it when the season starts. Browns fans told everyone that would listen that this was their year (no one wants to listen if you say it every year to no avail), now they are closing in on a playoff spot. Meanwhile teams that dominate like the Patriots will likely have to let a few starters go after this season, most notably Samuels or Moss. This means come next season New England's chances of another start like this one aren't as great.
(Thanks to a strict cap in the NFL players like Moss will have to choose between winning and cashing in. Also teams like NE don't dominate for 6-7 years causing fans of other teams to lose interest)
So how do we achieve this goal in baseball? The union has stated MANY times that they are not willing to have a salary cap. The way I see it now is the best time to impose one. You see with the plan that I am about to propose not only is it fair to the players, but with the Mitchell report coming out if the players strike, people will welcome not enhanced talent. So it is a win either way.
Ok here it is...
The best way for a cap to work in baseball would be to have a two tier cap. Basically what that means is that you have 2 caps, if you pass the first cap you will have to pay a luxury tax (similar to the system now). The second cap is no negotiable, you WILL NOT GO OVER. Looking at espn.com's listing of salaries from last season I would set it up like this;
Luxury cap set at- 120,000,000. Any team over that mark will have to pay a luxury tax. (by last season's numbers this would only apply to the Yankees and Red Sox, but trust me others will cross that line very soon.)
Salary Cap set at- 180,000,000- Only the Yankees would be over this cap by last season's figures. I considered raising up to the 195 million mark to just allow teams to sit as they are, but I feel that you should EASILY be able to field a 25 man team at 18 million.
Ok, so this seems easy enough, but the union would never go for it. If it was an option they would have done this long ago. My system does not stop there. You see the reason that some of the smaller teams can not succeed is because they do not spend. So to solve that I would impose a cap MINIMUM.
Yes, you would have an amount that teams MUST spend every season. Thinking of this it would not be saying that you must sign a guy or anything like that. What you do is set the amount that must be spent, if a team fails to spend that amount they will have to pay their current players the amount that they are currently under the cap.
I would look like this...
The cap minimum would be set at 60,000,000. In the case of last season's Tampa Bay Rays they only spent 24,124,200. This leaves them 35,875,800 under the cap. So you would divide that amount by 25 and each Rays player would receive a bonus of 1,435,032 at the end of the season.
(If the Marlins had to spend the money anyway they would stop with this bi-anual fire sale)
How would that help baseball? Well in cases like the current Marlins the team would know that they have to spend the money anyway why not go get some talent with it? I assure you that if a team is forced to spend 60 million the smaller teams would bid for better players, thus making them a competitor. Not to mention fans will be more inclined to cheer for a team that can win. You win games you sell tickets and merchandise, then you make more money.
(With more parity in baseball, empty parks like this one will become a thing of the past)
With this system it would balance the MLB out without making crazy changes. The union would buy on it because it would not actually take money away from players. Most of all players like JD Drew and Andruw Jones don't get outrageous contracts, well maybe they do but we can't control everything.
(Dodgers fans get used to this look, $18.1 million for a guy that hit .222 last year is flat out silly)