Baseball is America's national pastime for many reasons. It's
the most intelligent major sport. It encourages personal achievement just as
much as team play. When a pitcher and hitter square off, it's one on one, a
But there's another reason baseball is America's sport: It's the
most capitalist of all the major sports. Football has salary caps and
complete parity. Basketball has salary caps for players and high taxes for
owners exceeding a maximum payroll. Baseball has none of these.
Some might say that this is baseball's problem. It's why
baseball is the only major sport that has real dynasties. It's why baseball
players are paid enormous salaries. It's why the Chicago Cubs perennially
But that is baseball's beauty. Often, the more an owner is
willing to spend, the more he will make in revenue from ticket sales. If
Cubs fans are willing to go to games to watch a terrible team, they
shouldn't blame the owner for not buying tremendous players. He's already
got a source of income.
It's uniquely American. It must be preserved and strengthened.
And it's also why both sides in the current player-owner standoff are at
least partially wrong.
There are obviously problems with the current system. Major
leaguers are making a minimum of $200,000 a year. Steroids dirty the game.
Los Angeles fans pay more attention to the beach balls floating around in
the stands than they do to the baseball game.
So here's what needs to happen.
All teams should split home revenues 50-50 with the visiting
teams. That means that if the New York Yankees visit the Montreal Expos, and
the game creates a clear profit of $600,000, both the Expos and Yankees
should receive $300,000. If, on the other hand, the Cincinnati Reds visit
the Expos, and the profit is only $150,000, each team should receive
$75,000. Major League Baseball wants 50 percent of all profits to go into a
pool, to be divided equally among all teams; they want the other 50 percent
placed into a fund that Bud Selig would distribute to teams according to his
judgment of their need. This is a bad policy. Each team should keep the
profit it creates.
The owners won't like this. Neither will the players. The owners
with worse teams want a chunk of what the Yankees make. The worst players
will want all owners to have more money to spend on them. But that's not
American, and it shouldn't be baseball.
There should be no payroll luxury tax. Major League Baseball is
calling for a 50 percent tax on all money spent above $98 million by owners.
Instead, teams should be allowed to spend freely without being taxed. If the
Yankees spend $400 million a season, they must be confident that they can
bring in the crowds. Free markets should ensure that owners do not
The owners aren't happy with this, either. Many want parity. Too
bad. If you can't compete, sell the team.
The minimum salary should be abolished. An owner shouldn't be
forced to pay $200,000 to a player who bats .167. The government doesn't
guarantee a doctor $100,000 a year if he kills a high percentage of his
patients. Baseball shouldn't do it, either.
This is where the Players Union will go bonkers. It would like
to see a minimum salary increase to $300,000 per year, with annual raises of
$25,000 per year. Fine. If the players decide to strike, so be it. Bring in
the scrubs. Hundreds of players labor in the minors all their lives to play
baseball for less than $300,000. Let's give them a shot at it.
Finally, there should be mandatory random drug testing of
players. I recommend this only because baseball will lose fans if players
like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa come under suspicion of steroid use. And
really, who thinks that Sosa and Bonds aren't on steroids at this point?
Sosa used to look like Ally McBeal, only skinnier, and now he looks like
Some of the owners would approve these proposals. Those who do
should force the issue. If some owners don't like it, they can sell. If
players don't like it, they can strike. Hey, I don't care if the major
leaguers strike -- my Chicago White Sox are 5,000 games back of the division
lead anyway at this point. Now's a great time for a strike!
It's time to save baseball. Let's do it along capitalist lines
and keep baseball uniquely American.