The New York Yankees are your new World Series Champions.
I can make this statement using two distinct and opposite emotions.
I can say it happily because it prevents my personal most hated city in the world, Filthydelphia, from gaining any kind of victory. Any time someone shuts down a Philly sports franchise, especially by pummeling them into playoff elimination, my heart swells.
What can I say? I was born and raised a Pittsburgher. We’re bred to hate Philly and Cleveland. Sorry, it’s just regional genetics.
On the other hand, I make my statement angrily. If this World Series proved anything at all, it proved once again that, for an immense amount of money, you too can be like George Steinbrenner and buy yourself a Commissioner’s Trophy.
The whole thing made me realize that, with both the NFL and the NHL’s respective players associations going into renegotiations with their respective leagues regarding a possible removal of salary caps, what is next for sports in America?
Salary caps are what really keep things in line in sports. By making sure that no team can retain every player of increasing value every year, you allow some of the spillover to be distributed to lesser teams for possible improvement.
Yes, there are dominant teams and yes, there are far-less-than-dominant teams. The ebb and flow of the leagues, however, is dependent more upon performance of the players rather than the budget of the teams. This is the way sport should be.
Rather than come by things honestly, teams like the Yankees can use monetary temptation to lure players from elsewhere and build an all-star team, which they have done to a great degree of success over the last decade. This proves nothing other than the ability to flaunt money and buy a championship. It also makes things pretty lame for baseball if you’re not from a market with a team who has MAD BANK to shell out on a ton of big guns.
MLB should absolutely push to institute a salary cap. Think of the mass roster exodus of the uber-market teams. How many teams could benefit from veteran leadership which they just don’t have? How many teams could use a heavy bat or a golden glove or a cannon to help them become competitive?
Take the Pirates (Seriously. Take them. Please.) for example. They get someone good, he gets dealt to the bigger teams for peanuts. It happens at the end of every season as if the Buccos are some kind of farm club for the actual teams in the MLB.
Teams like the Pirates are simply breeding grounds. Sure, they play in the same league as the New York teams, Boston, the Chicago teams, etc, but they may as well be an independent minor league franchise which does nothing but breed mercenaries. We are arms dealers. We cultivate guns only to sell them to the highest bidder when they are primed and ready.
Ownership of these teams would have you think that there isn’t enough money in the organization to field a decent team. This is simply an awesome excuse to sit back and clean up on merchandise, concessions, and ticket sales while the team continues to suck donkey balls. The owners of these arms dealerships are only worried about the individual price tag of the men on the field. If they can keep payroll to a minimum while still offering up enough promotions to keep butts in the seats, it won’t matter if they tank season after season. At least, it won’t matter to the owners.
Under a salary cap, however, any owner would be seen as a fool if he didn’t allow his management to spend up to the absolute ceiling. With the talent overflow from the Yankees alone, the entire face of the league would be changed overnight. It may even allow some teams who don’t regularly haunt the lower ladder to actually make a run at something special.
Salary caps level the playing field. They make the championship anyone’s game at the start of the new season.
There are always dominant teams, but their championship reign is hardly guaranteed from one season to the next in the same way that it can be when there is no spending limit.
MLB should take an example from the NHL. Especially with the shape of the league right now. Many players who became more big-ticket last year were traded or snagged from free agency by traditionally lower ranked teams, lending to unexpected surges in the W column.
Also contributing to that is the lack of presence by most of the traditionally dominant teams due to age or fatigue or injury. With so many strange things happening, it seems as though there are no real early on favorites for the Stanley Cup as there have been in years past. Sure, I’d like to see the Pens take it all again, but whoever comes out of the east will give them a good run for their money as much as whoever they face from the west in the finals. Everything is up for grabs. Hockey is exciting again.
Baseball seems as boring as ever. If you know your team well enough, you could write the story of their season as soon as spring training starts. No names, no money willing to be spent on names, no real chance of victory.
There are those miracle players who come from nowhere to surprise everyone, but they are few and far between. An even rarer bird is the low-ranked team taking it all in some sort of drive for the ages. It has happened, it could happen again, but the chances of it happening are insanely slim. Chances of a miracle season under a cap? Much, much better.
One needs look no further than the reigning Stanley Cup champs to see proof. Going into the final stretch, they were almost iced out of playoff contention. Fighting back, they managed a fourth-place finish in the conference and surprised everyone by challenging the Red Wings to a rematch in the finals and winning.
Take this fan’s word; it was a dismal winter in more ways than one. To see them rise to the challenge was incredible. If not playing under a cap and going into the spring stretch with a losing record, you can pretty much count your team out. Most of the eligible players will be sold piecemeal to the highest bidder with a playoff berth without a thought. I’ve seen it happen in seasons past. It sucks.
Without salary caps to protect sports, things will become a buyer’s market just as they have in the MLB. There will be no point to any championship. Credibility for any trophies will plummet. Everything sacred about the game will crumble and the smaller market teams will be left in the dust.
I am not necessarily a baseball fan, so I’m not making this rant solely to oppose the reign of the Yankees as World Champs. I am merely a sports fan in general, pleading to the players, the owners, and the league management staff: If it’s not capped, cap it. If it is capped, keep the lid on it. Don’t let things get out of control for want of money.
The integrity of baseball is destroyed and can only be restored if the system is purged and the playing field leveled. I hold out hope that the same won’t be true for more sports in the future.
Keep fighting the good fight.