Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Turning into 2002 All Over Again

I remember listening to Chris "Mad Dog" Russo on those long, summer days five years ago. If you recall, the CBA was up, and there was a possibility of a strike. And for good reason - baseball was messed up. The large market teams had unfair the advantage of being able to spend as much money as they wanted, and the small market teams simply could not compete. Once in a while you'd get an Oakland A's team that got lucky in that all their prospects flourished at the same time, but once their star players reached free agency, they were gone. So Russo used to scream that it's unfair, and he was actually rooting for a strike just to fix things up.

Well, they didn't strike, because after 9/11, they couldn't afford the PR hit, but with luxury taxes, revenue sharing, and mutiple streams of income, things got a little fairer. Suddenly, the Angels and the Marlins won Series, the White Sox did so with a mid-range payroll, but most impotantly, teams had the dough to resign their players. So Ben Sheets remained a Brewer. CC Sebathia stayed with the Indians. Suddenly 24 out of 30 teams had a chance to make the playoffs entering a given season. Baseball was back to its glory days.

Alas, the times they are a changin'. Michael Kay made this point on his radio show, that Johan Santana will be available, and it's only the big three or four teams involved in the bidding. Twins? No chance. Phillies? No shot. Padres? Forget it. Same with Miguel Cabrera.

Granted, small-market teams have more money, but so do the big-market teams. So what will happen is that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, and Angels will have payrolls in the $200 millions, and the rest of the teams will have less than half that. And once again, the big boys will gobble up the free agents, and it'll be back to the early 2000s, when 18-20 teams had no shot on April 1st.

Now Kay blamed teams like the Royals for overpaying Gil Meche, or the Angels for overpaying Torii Hunter (I guess his pro-Yankee bias had to come through sometime), but unless the system changes, it won't matter. You'll have teams like the Marlins constantly starting over with a rebuilding plan. The Blue Jays will be perennial losers.

I'll admit - as much of a baseball nut as I am, I was a much bigger fan these past four or five seasons than I was in the late '90s and early 2000s. But if Selig and company don't fix this, I'll have to move on to other hobbies and interests.

1 comment:

Manny Ortiz said...

YD, I think it's only gonna get worse. Sabathia isn't gonna be an Indian much longer, Peavy might not be in SD for too long, and who knows if, once Tampa Bay's young team develops, the Rays will have to clean house as well. Plus, look at Oakland shopping Haren and Blanton. Is the Moneyball era over?

And why doesn't Kay give it to the Yankees for wasting $50 mil on Igawa?

My biggest problem with the sport is that the big-market teams can eat their mistakes. Igawa's a bust? Just get Clemens. If Meche is a bust? You're screwed. Big-market teams have a much great margin for error, and it's a huge problem in the game right now.