Mariners Fans’ Concerns For The New Commish’
I write to you today as a concerned fan of baseball. My ties are mostly to the Seattle Mariners, but as a writer and a fan I think I can safely say that my concerns are mostly universal to all baseball fanatics.
I’m sure you can decide for yourself, as you must be a reasonably intelligent person to have achieved the position you have just been named to.
I want to talk to you a little bit about payroll imbalance as it relates to competitive balance in the league and a generational gap I see in MLB‘s fan base.
I would consider the Mariners to be a middle-market team. They certainly don’t have the money that say the Dodgers or Yankees have to spend, but they aren’t exactly the Marlins, Twins or Astros, either.
I also know that it’s difficult to argue competitive imbalance when the league has seven different World Series Champions in the last 10 years.
That said, I must tell you that the road back to glory is extremely difficult for a small-to-middle-market team under the conditions we currently operate under. A single bad trade or draft choice can have a far more lasting effect for teams whose resources are less than the top five to 10 teams.
Put simply, these smaller markets can’t buy their way out of a mistake.
Can they get back to glory? Yes — eventually — but it can take years to do so. That, I believe, is one of the reasons why baseball is continuing to see its fan base grow older and older.
Right or wrong, the younger fans want to know their team can turn it around next year. They don’t want to watch a decade of baseball waiting and hoping that it might eventually happen. Life is faster in the 21st century than the grand ol’ game’s glorious pace and it’s time that MLB adapted to life in the now.
My solution to the generational crisis of baseball and the slow pace of its competitive balance is not just a salary cap. It’s a salary floor and a salary cap. I like to call it a salary window.
MLB teams will spend $3,453,960,397.00 in salaries in 2014.
That’s nearly $3.5 BILLION on one year. If you divide that by 30 teams, we should see each team around $115 million per year. That’s not what we see, though.
Only 10 out of 30 teams is even at the average annual salary per team. Three of them have or nearly have doubled that average. A couple of teams aren’t even at half of the average.
Having such extremes at either end of the salary spectrum is unacceptable if baseball is going to thrive in the 21st century.
To start this process, I propose you enforce a cap at 30 percent above and a floor at 10 percent below the current mean average of $115 million per team.
What does that mean for the numbers? Had this proposal been in place for this year, the highest a team’s payroll could be would be $149.5 million. The lowest team could be would be $103 million. This numbers should obviously be reviewed each year and adjusted at the same rate of inflation in the US for the previous year.
I know what your first argument to this plan would be: The players would never agree. I agree they wouldn’t on a hard cap without a floor. With this floor, they are guaranteed to receive nearly as much they did in the past even if all 30 teams went to the minimum salary. We all know that’s not going to happen!
Next I’d like to talk to you a little bit about the Umpires.
MLB has some fine umpires. A few I have had the privilege to speak to and they were very forthcoming about their desire to stay out of the game and how much they wanted the game’s integrity to remain above reproach.
MLB also has some umpires that are not so good. As a Mariners fan, I can tell you all about one Tony Randazzo and his apparent decade old grudge against Lloyd McClendon and his obvious need for camera time and personal attention.
The day baseball allows the Umpires to think that they are the reason why the fans came to watch is the day baseball dies as a form of professional sports entertainment.
Discipline for these obvious, begrudging types of unfair rulings need to be dealt with severely, publicly and swiftly by MLB.
To not have transparency in the disciplinary process for the enforcers of the game’s integrity invites distrust, disbelief and conspiracy theories to dominate the discussion instead of the great play of the stars of the game.
Also in regard to the umpiring, I want to talk to you about instant replay. As someone who has opposed the idea of replay in baseball for my entire life, I must say I like what I have seen so far with just a few exceptions. Right now, some of the rulings are leaving broadcasters and writers scratching their heads. You need a public figure who can join announcers on air during broadcasts and online via Twitter who can explain some of these rulings to fans.
Think of it as MLB’s answer to the NFL’s Mike Pereira. Having someone with that kind of knowledge of the latest rules of the game and how rulings are being decided in real time as we watch these replays would be very beneficial to the fans and everyone.
Transparency on how the rules are being applied and decided will give your umpiring crews even more credibility and integrity.
That’s all for now, Rob. I’m sure you are busy getting moved into your new office and I don’t want to bombard you during your first week. I do reserve the right to write you again, though.