Category Archives: MLB

No Contest: Unfair Advantages In Professional Sports

Kyle Tooley

A very common expression in my household when I was growing up was, “life isn’t fair.”  Usually the context involved eating dessert before dinner or staying up late to watch the end of the Sunday Night Football game.  And it is true; life isn’t fair because of the many things in our life that we cannot control.  However, in a professional sports league, shouldn’t the game be set up to create as much of a competitive equilibrium as possible?  Because if not, we might as well take the NBA and cut the number of teams from 30 to 10 and just let the ten teams that would always be relevant duke it out for rings each year.

The New York Knicks landed Patrick Ewing thanks to the NBA Draft Lottery
The New York Knicks landed Patrick Ewing thanks to the NBA Draft Lottery in 1985

The MLB and the NBA have a flawed system when it comes to creating top to bottom competition.  The biggest ways we see the flaws in creating competition are the MLB’s lack of salary cap and the NBA’s lottery draft.  The salary cap-less MLB is more of a crime against small-market teams, but it still does not help create a balance when the best teams can sign even better free agents with no regard to money.  The lottery draft in the NBA is honestly one of the biggest jokes in professional sports and has completely altered the landscape of the NBA ever since its introduction in 1985.  In that draft, The New York Knicks, who did not have the worst record in the league, secured the first pick and were able to land a pretty good player.  Patrick Ewing, to be exact.  If there was no lottery system, Ewing would have been a Pacer and there is no certainty on how that acquisition could have changed the future of the league.  Looking back on that 1985 draft, I’m rather certain that the Pacers would have traded their pick that they ended up making for future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.  The Pacers drafted Wayman Tisdale.  Sure, he was a 12-year veteran, but this is Patrick Ewing we’re talking about.

On top of mixing up the draft orders in every single draft since 1985, the lottery system has also come under scrutiny for playing favorites to bigger name teams.  Is it just a coincidence that Derrick Rose was born and raised in Chicago or LeBron James is from Cleveland? Well, I guess the jury is still out.  All I’m saying is that LeBron could’ve been drafted by Denver and Derrick Rose could be in Miami while Blake Griffin could be enjoying his afternoons in downtown Sacramento or Anthony Davis could be in Charlotte, making life a bit easier on ol’ Michael Jordan.  The scenery of NBA draftees is always going to be in flux and unpredictable until the NBA can adapt a reverse-order draft like every other major sports league.

Chase Headley singed with the Yankees because they could offer him the most money
Chase Headley singed with the Yankees because they could offer him the most money

Baseball is as simple as this: if there was no salary cap involved, do you think a free agent from this past offseason such as Chase Headley would rather play for a team that finished this past season sitting on their couches in October or a team that just won the World Series? Well, he picked the Yankees.  Why? Because they have more money to spend than any other team, bottom line.  With a salary cap, that would not be the case, as teams from around the league would have identical budgets to spend on a former Silver Slugger such as Headley.  Yes, New York is an attractive place to live, just ask Carmelo.  But, can anyone truly say that San Francisco isn’t?

Any given year, a new NFL team can rise to the top thanks to their salary cap and draft rules
Any given year, a new NFL team can rise to the top thanks to their salary cap and draft rules

The solution: the NBA and the MLB need to adapt their policies on drafting and salary cap management to that of the NFL.  Have a reverse-order draft and create a hard cap with essentially no loopholes.  In doing this, the NFL has created a very balanced system that sees their franchises go in and out of so-called “rebuilding processes” almost seamlessly.  We joke that the NFL is somewhat of a mockery because it is so hard to predict which teams will be good each and every year.  But isn’t that what we want? Don’t we want a league where there aren’t teams that are never good and some teams that make the playoffs year in and year out?  Sure, savvy front offices’ are always going to help a team’s chances at success, but you’re lying to yourself if you think that free-agent budgets and drafting don’t have to do with 95% of a team’s success.  The Yankees would not be what we think of the Yankees today and the NBA draft would not be a complete and utter mockery.

It’s a shame to see the leagues that we watch year in and year out tear down the competitive balance of the game that makes the season that much more interesting.  Change is needed in the MLB and NBA, and if you don’t believe me, just take a gander at the Sacramento Kings’ last few draft picks or how many big free agents the A’s have been able to land over the past few off-seasons.

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The Cost Of A Franchise

Pat Obrochta

Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers last year for $2,000,000,000
Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers last year for $2,000,000,000

In May of 2014, the Los Angeles Clippers made headlines across the nation due to a change of ownership. In the shadows of the off-court issues of former owner Donald Sterling was the fact that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was paying $2 billion dollars for the franchise. Compared to the Milwaukee Bucks, who sold for $550 Million only a few months before the Clippers sale was finalized, it was a heavy investment that made many stare in disbelief, especially the other groups bidding, whose bids were $600 million and $800 million short respectfully. Continue reading The Cost Of A Franchise

How Small Market Teams Find Success

Kyle Tooley

The past sport’s year alone has seen two classifiable “small-market” teams make it to their respective championship games.  With the Kansas City Royals of the MLB and the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, we see two different structures and formulas for building a championship team.  And actually, the methods should be different.  Small-market teams are affected differently in the MLB than they are in the NBA, and that has to do with how each league’s salary cap rules, or lack thereof, are set up.  But when it’s game seven and we have a team from New York or Los Angeles matching up against a team from Sacramento or San Antonio we have to ask the questions of how did this happen? How was a relatively poor team able to compete with teams that don’t have a money problem?

Continue reading How Small Market Teams Find Success

What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 3

Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco playing for the A's
Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco playing for the A’s

There were also fluctuations in fan interest within the past decade because the steroid era.  For the majority of the second half of the twentieth century, baseball was a slow paced, low scoring game that favored pitchers.  Fans became more interested in basketball games that finished 100-98 or football games that finished 28-21, not baseball games that took three hours to finish 1-0.  What the steroid era did was make baseball a high scoring game.  Players like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Jose Canseco were smashing out home runs and driving up scores.  Baseball suddenly became more fast paced and impressive with balls flying out of stadiums left and right.  But in the mid 2000s baseball commissioner Bud Selig really cracked down on performance enhancing drugs and drove out all steroid users.  Baseball fell back into a low scoring affair and fan interest yet again started to decrease. Continue reading What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 3

Financially Smart Move For The Cubs?

The Chicago Cubs have always been a big market team.  They also however have been reluctant to spend their money on new signings.  For the first time in a long time, the Cubs dropped some money on signing Jon Lester to a 6-year, $155M contract and the cheers from Wrigleyville could be heard across the world.  While Jon Lester is one of the best pitchers in baseball today, does the signing make much sense financially for the Cubs?  Just ask the Yankees how their big money, long term contracts are panning out. Continue reading Financially Smart Move For The Cubs?

What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 2

Another reason fans started to lose interest in baseball was because of the growing gap between the good and bad teams.  Baseball was alive and well in New York because they were constantly a winning team and had a lot of money.  But in cities like Kansas City and Pittsburgh fans began to lose interest as their teams continued to be bad and get worse because they had no money to pay for better talent.  This trend has continued all the way to the present day when mlbthe Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have some of the biggest fan bases in baseball, and they are paying $241M and $208M respectively for their teams.  The Houston Astros and Miami Marlins have some the emptiest stadiums and smallest fan bases and they are paying $45M and $42M respectively for their teams (MLB Top Teams Payroll).  Continue reading What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 2

What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 1

Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Joe DiMaggio. All of these names are American sports legends produced by baseball, but they also all played before 1950. Baseball was the sport to watch and follow in the early twentieth century and no other sport rivaled it. Walt Whitman, one of the great American poets and journalists, said that “[he saw] great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game”. But by the mid 1900s, football and basketball emerged and baseball was forced to act to fight these new sports. Baseball was not able to act appropriately, efficiently, or intelligently and they started to lose fan interest and viewers. Baseball has been on a decline since the mid 1900s and there were huge effects felt from outside forces and society. New technology changed how baseball was played as well as the competing sports and each sport was able to use the new technology to their advantage except for baseball. Finally, baseball had several internal issues that led to its fallout and it is still recovering to this day. Continue reading What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 1

Top 5 Beards In The MLB: 2014 Edition

It’s that time of year again. It gets darker sooner, the air is chillier and brisk, and baseball playoff beards spring up anew.  While the World Series may be over and the San Francisco Giants players are living up another championship title, it’s time to look back at this year’s great beards. Continue reading Top 5 Beards In The MLB: 2014 Edition

There Are Still Good Role Models In Sports

The sporting world has been going through some issues these past few weeks to put it gently.  People everywhere have been calling for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s resignation as players are dropping like flies because of all the domestic abuse and assault charges.  With the NFL going through hell and scrambling to get everything together, children across the country are watching it all unfold and see their favorite players beating up their wives, girlfriends, or children.  It’s important for the younger generation to know though that their are still plenty of good role models to pay attention to in the world of sports such as J.J. Watt, Derek Jeter, and numerous others. Continue reading There Are Still Good Role Models In Sports

Top 5 Worst (Or Best?) Haircuts In Recent Sports Memory

In today’s world, sporting figures are sometimes viewed in a way similar to gods.  But it’s always comforting to know that they are in fact human and have the capability (or lack of common sense) to rock a pretty brutal head of hair. Continue reading Top 5 Worst (Or Best?) Haircuts In Recent Sports Memory