Salary Cap ? Now Please !
The Steroid era is over, hooray! Now what? Well, Major League Baseball, time to catch up with the world of sports. It is time for a salary cap on player earnings. America is in the middle of a recession, unemployment continues to rise and Major League Baseball must change with the times. Without shrewd decision making, now, on the part of Baseballs’ owners, baseball will lose fans. Fans of the game, too long disenfranchised, by eight work stoppages, the most recent nullifying an entire playoffs and World Series. Fans subjected, no matter how willingly, to widespread abuse of steroids, Human Growth Hormone and amphetamines. These same fans will not continue to pour their increasingly slim entertainment budgets into a sport dominated by the few, big spenders, only occasionally challenged by a lesser market. A product of this ilk is ultimately unsustainable. When a fans’ team is perceived as not in the race, it is easy to become disinterested. Yet continuing not to institute a salary cap leaves too many teams “out of it” before the season even starts. How will baseball ever mange to attract new viewers? Viewers indulged with most anything they want at their fingertips, shopping on the go, television via cell phone and laptops that weigh almost nothing. Will this new type of consumer pay to see a team that might be good in five years? The NHL waited until it had to cancel an entire season due to financial instability. Will Baseball?
“The term anabolic steroid means any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth” (Erowid). Believe it or not, ladies and gentleman, anabolic steroid use is a tremendous factor in the salary cap debate. Juice-ball drove fans to the ballpark like so many flocking geese. What record might be broken today? One such fan might ask. With homers flying out of the park like ducks at the crack of a rifle, there was ample reason to watch. This era, followed the fateful Players Strike of 1994-95. This work stoppage may have been part of the reason for owners’ laissez-faire attitude during the steroid driven years. After the strike fans were disgusted with baseball. One such account found in the Washington post, an article dated April 30, 1995, regarding fan reaction to the strike: “fans who showed up demonstrated their anger and frustration. The meager crowds at the openers often booed at the players for their rusty fundamentals, shoddy defense, and in response to frequent high-scoring contests. The strike was seen as the worst work stoppage in sports history and it left the game, the fans, and the sports world shaken, angry, outraged, sickened, and frightened to their core.” (Maske A01) It was from this contentious and seemingly unendurable time that the era of steroids was conceived, nurtured and eventually ignored. As steroids took hold of the game, players became bigger faster and stronger, seemingly overnight. As this transformation took place before our eyes, baseballs started rocketing out of the yard at an unheard of pace. With all of the souvenirs being served up the fans couldn’t scurry fast enough to be on the receiving end. Revenues were through the roof, everyone was happy. Until & #8230; Congressional hearings, tell all stories and Roger Clemons filled our televisions. Now, without the long-ball, Major league baseball finds itself faced with an economic recession and increased unemployment making a salary cap all the more crucial, right now!
In order to keep pace with other major sporting leagues baseball must take hold of the moment. With vigor and ferocity, the time must be seized. Owners have the opportunity, right now, to save baseball from turmoil, years of disinterested fans and dwindling gate sales. With the institution of a hard salary cap, similar to that used by the NFL, Major league baseball can begin to fundamentally change the way franchises are built. This new salary cap system will ensure all teams are given equal opportunity to groom young talent, and keep that talent, should they choose. This will eliminate teams such as the Red Sox and Yankees utilizing smaller market teams as a kind of farm system. Small market teams could then be “players” in free agency and trade deadline moves alike. With this new flexibility, teams will all have the ability to turn their fortunes from one year to the next. No longer will stockpiles of talent gravitate towards New York, L.A. And Miami. We will experience parity, for the Blue Jays, the Brewers and the Royals.
This new even footed Major League would attract new, young viewers by giving them a reason to believe that “this is it!” Finally, this will be the year. We are going to do it! Fans young and old alike will begin again to know the joy of last to first successes. Watch as their team builds a young core, makes smart trades and offseason signings. Finally! Finally! This is it the day is here. Spring training has begun! The season opener! Once again a landmark event, it draws us out of a cold, dreary winter into the warm, encompassing breadth that is summer. Uplifting our spirits, it’s the wonder and excitement, the smell of fresh cut grass and the sight of untouched infield. Imagine, if you will, ladies and gentleman, our country again captured, nay, enamored by our national pastime? Consider, this country watching baseball again, because it is fun, it matters and because their team is in the hunt. Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball, will be required to muster all of his strength, political support, and courage. Once thus equipped, Mr. Selig will still have to make many difficult decisions and treat the situation with care and great tact. If ever there was a chance, that time has come. He and Major League owners must take a firm grasp of this opportunity while it is available.
In many baseball markets teams have not experienced a winning season in many years, Pittsburgh Pirates, others have even moved after decades of languishing at or near the bottom of their division, Montreal Expos. Yet even teams who strive for success in smaller markets are only able to afford a few years, of competing for playoff contention, Oakland Athletics. Even for these teams, the window of opportunity is slim. Tough and shrewd personnel decisions are a must, luck will play its part and voila, small market success. Unfortunately for many, this has consisted of making the playoffs multiple years in a row, maybe a series win or two and in a few rare cases, Florida Marlins (twice), a World Series win. This short lived, seldom seen small market success is generally followed immediately by years of last place, or close to it finishes. The franchise begins to rebuild its minor league counterparts after having mined all of its talent in hopes of their one year. This regrouping or rebuilding effort can take decades if not executed properly, Colorado Rockies.
Young people, used to the immediacy of the internet, television, cell phones and all of the other technologies that make our lives more immediate, don’t have the patience to wait five, ten or more years to have their day in the sun. They want bragging rights and they want it yesterday. The NFL gets it. The NFL markets to the general populous. They determine what the “average” sports enthusiast wants and provide as much of it as possible. This thought process all began with the Salary cap. “The cap was introduced for the 1994 season and was initially $34.6 million. Both the cap and the floor were adjusted annually based on the league’s revenues, and they increased each year. In 2009, the final capped year under the current CBA, the cap was $128 million per team, while the floor was 87.6% of the cap. Using the formula provided in the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the floor in 2009 was $112.1 million. The salary floor percentage would have increased 1.2% per year until it reached 90% of the cap in 2011.” (Wikipedia) As is evident from the rising salary cap and floor percentage, since the introduction of the salary cap the NFL has increased its revenue quite dramatically. Obviously this is not the only factor in the NFL’s unrivaled success, but Major league Baseball should take note, twenty years ago, those were your viewers. Factors for this monumental shift in power are many, suffice it to say, the salary cap has played a large part.
Even with this seemingly well thought out, well executed model for successes, baseball continues to allow the players union to dictate terms. The owners have allowed the players union to run roughshod over them in every negotiation since that fateful last work stoppage. Even in the most recent negotiations, concerning drug testing, the owners were unable to obtain all the testing they desired. The players union, although unable to escape completely was given a pass on testing for HGH. “HGH has been used by competitors in sports since the 1970s, and it has been banned by the IOC and NCAA. Traditional urine analysis could not detect doping with HGH, so the ban was unenforceable until the early 2000s when blood tests that could distinguish between natural and artificial hGH were starting to be developed. Blood tests conducted by WADA at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece primarily targeted HGH.” (Wikipedia) These relatively new tests have been available for years and yet in the most recent round of collective bargaining, after all of the public outcry and congressional hearings surrounding performance enhancing drugs, ownership was still unwilling to demand every test available. Prove to the public, we made a mistake, it won’t happen again. The owners should have been bolder at that moment and they should be bold now. That moment may, someday come back to haunt baseball, if the owners fail to act on immediate implementation of a salary cap. I dread to see the results.
Ever sense the players union strike of 1994 — 95, baseball owners have been scared to place unpopular demands upon the union. Now is the time! The players union has weakened after the fallout over steroid use, owners have some leverage. The time has come to use that leverage. Save baseball now. Every other major sport has one and has enjoyed tremendous success having implemented one. Players are, of course, not in favor of these measures, but that is due to lowered earning potential. What the players fail to see, however, is that with a salary cap baseball would become a more widely followed sport. Many people, in today’s market, watch baseball only sporadically and partially due to a feeling of guilt if they don’t. Baseball is “America’s past time” and all. With the institution of a salary cap, baseball would require an immediate spread of talent throughout its ranks. This spread of talent, and forced downsizing would place a premium on building an entire franchise. By doing so, all teams will be able to compete, consistently, for a championship. A fan, any fan, heck every fan wants to win. People like winners, and, hey, it’s a heck of a lot easier to drop six bucks on a soda or beer if you’re able to spill it in joyous celebration, rather than sorrowful defeat.
Erowid. Federal Definition of Anabolic Steroids (2005). .
Maske, Mark. “After the Strike, Baseball’s Disgusted Fans Decide to Strike Back.” Washington post 30 April 1995: A01.
Wikipedia. Wikipedia. 12 November 2010. 12 November 2010 .
— . Wikipedia. 12 November 2010. 12 November 2010 .
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