I was listening to WFAN this afternoon and Mike Francesa once again shocked me. I wasn’t going to write this on my blog, however, there doesn’t seem to be a way to send a message directly to Mr. Francesa. It seems that the only way to reach WFAN is via the telephone and it’s not worth the time and effort to try to get through.
For someone who purports to be an unbiased expert on everything baseball (and beyond), he never ceases to amaze me. He was discussing baseball’s financial structure with a caller who questioned the fairness of MLB’s not having a salary cap. Clearly the luxury tax has no real impact on the Yankees and really does nothing to level the playing field. The caller, Francesa and I are all in agreement on that. What I couldn’t believe was that Francesa didn’t think that MLB’s current payroll distribution isn’t outrageous.
You can see my breakdown and thoughts on baseball’s payroll distribution in Who Says Money Can’t Buy Championships?
Francesa’s position was that the Yankee revenue is so much greater than the rest of baseball that they could be spending $300M on payroll instead of $205M – $220M that they are spending. The Yankees are actually showing restraint!
You’ve got to be kidding me. He admitted that the under the current system, the Yankees should expect to make the post-season every year. With only 8 playoff spots for 30 teams, if one team can expect to make the post-season every year, that certainly sounds broken to me. It is destroying the game for the non-Yankee fans. Yankee fans, most of whom have only been fans since 1996 or so, don’t seem to see anything wrong, as they believe that it is their birthright to make the post-season every year.
Maybe the Yankees are doing extremely well financially, but the majority of baseball isn’t. Baseball is big business, but unlike other businesses, the incentive to drive your competition out of business doesn’t exits. You need other teams to play against or you don’t have a sport. The beauty of sports is the underlying belief of fair competition. Sure there are up and down cycles for teams but this should tend to balance out over time if the playing field is level as it does in other sports. That is no longer the case in baseball.
Yes the Yankees are playing within the rules and should be respected for what they have accomplished with all of the money that they have spent. There was a time when they spent bundles without succeeding. Heck, my Mets are the poster children for “spending money does guarantee a winner – you need to spend wisely”. High payrolls spent wisely can almost guarantee a post-season appearance.
The Yankees are becoming baseball’s version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Baseball is morphing from a sport to pure entertainment, just like the Globetrotters, or the WWE for that matter. It’s losing the competition that makes it a sport – the National Pastime. It’s losing its luster and I must admit that at times, my interest is waining.
So if you somehow stumble on to this Mr. Francesa, come on, admit it, baseball is broken and needs to be fixed. You’re better than that, or at least, you think that you are. Until the outcry gets loud enough, there is no hope of change. The Players Union will never accept a cap, even with a payroll floor unless something drastic occurs.