The regular season is soon upon us, but according to the experts in Las Vegas, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees are the overwhelming favorites to meet in the World Series already.
So the question persists, Does Major League Baseball need a salary cap or doesn't it?
Answer: If it intends to be The National Pastime, then yes, the field needs to be leveled. But if they've conceded that title to the NFL already, then Major League Baseball can maintain the status quo and fare reasonably well.
I'll select Door No. 2, Drew.
In terms of popularity, the gap has become so great in professional sports that there's two classes now. The NFL is so far ahead of the field, it would take a search party to find the rest. Even Major League Baseball all but concedes as much.
So rather than fight the good fight, MLB has been content to wave the white flag while it carves a different niche.
Its system caters to the major markets, which all but ensures meaningful games for its biggest money-makers in the regular season, when depth of talent wins out more times than not. So if you live in a major market, Major League Baseball is great. But if you leave in a mid-market, then it's not swell at all.
OK, so the system isn't fair to everyone, but thanks to the big spenders, Major League Baseball has been able to do quite well this way. (The average franchise is worth $523 million, an all-time high.) Come September, ballparks are full in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and the handful of other cities still in the pennant races. Television ratings have been lukewarm for the most part. Most important, through the wonders of the luxury tax, every team turns a generous profit at the end of the day.
Only the fans want a salary cap it seems, and most of them reside in the smaller markets. Once-proud franchises such as the Baltimore Orioles, the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates have fallen and can't get up, but not one of their players and owners have been heard to kick and scream for an economic system that would allow them to compete on more even terms.
If you're a player or a team owner, what's there to complain about?
The bottom line is—baseball may no longer be No. 1 in this country, but to be very wealthy runner-up isn't so bad at all. Love it or hate it, fair or not, the MLB way is here to stay.
I'll take the Yankees in six games please.
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