Perspective: ATTN: Major League Baseball, it's not the pace of play that's killing baseball is the lack of a salary cap that is
It's not the pace of play that is an issue in Major League Baseball. It is the un-ability to equal the playing field between small market and big market teams.
When the news broke Saturday afternoon that Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto turned down a record-breaking 440 million dollar contract, I was sitting in the blistering heat in Washington D.C. in front of Nats Park three hours before the gates opened to be in the first person in line to get a Juan Soto bobblehead, I almost left my spot and went home. If the news came before I got to Nats Park, I am not sure I would have rushed to the stadium to be first in line.
I mean, what's the point of getting a baseball player's bobblehead when they leave the team because they aren't getting enough money to stay. I rather spend my time and money on a team rather than spend time getting a bobblehead for a player. Where is the loyalty anymore in the game?
I am not blaming Juan Soto here (anymore, that is ....). He wants money that he believes that he is worth. We all want that. When we go into contract negotiations for our jobs, we want to get the most money. We can't blame Scott Boras (trust me, I want to). He wants the best for his client and, heck, the best for himself. I can't blame the Nationals' front office; $440 million is a lot of money.
So at the end, who's to blame? The end of the story is Major League Baseball and the Major League Players Association are to blame for fans' lack of interest in baseball. No matter how Major League Baseball tries to speed up the game, expand its streaming offerings, ending blackouts, the lack of salary cap is messing up the game for the most important constituents: the FANS.
Gone are the days when players stay with one team for their careers; honestly, I think that is a thing of the past, a relic of an old time like the DH in the NL. Why should fans head and sit in hot weather and cheer on a player when they might leave for another city to play for another team. I have a personal policy not to purchase any player's jersey because, well, then they leave. All I have left is the horrible feeling of being betrayed for more money.
I rather spend money on stuff that will not easily move from city to city and support the team through thick in thin. I don't get personally attached to players anymore because it's not worth it. Again it's not the fault of the player. It's the fault of the system that they operate within.
Before I go any further, let's look at another sport with a salary cap, the National Football League. Those players aren't poor and operate within a league-wide salary cap.
According to research on the internet, The median wage for all NFL players is $860,000, far underneath the $2 million that gets more promotion. A rising first-year rookie has a minimum payment of $435,000. The most publicly exposed are the stunningly high earnings of top quarterbacks. A few have contracts paying more than $25 to $30 million per year. . What some argue is the most important position in sports, the average salary for all quarterbacks is $5,766,000. Look me in the eye and say that isn't a lot of money.
Kickers are players who last longest in the NFL, with an average playing time of approximately seven years. Their income averages $1,792,000 yearly, with a median wage of $1,000,000.
But what makes the NFL great is that no matter where your team is located and the number of ticket sales, the amount of merchandise being sold, television rights, your draft right, and pick up a star player or two, you have a great chance to win a Super Bowl. You see so many different city teams winning the Super Bowl. You don't see the same teams winning year after year. You have small and large market teams that make the playoffs. That isn't what is happing in baseball, and that's where the sport is falling.
Just look at the Kanas City Chiefs; they play in a small market compared to the New York Giants. However, the Chiefs have been more than able to compete at a high level in recent years because the team has a long-term strategy of picking good players in the draft, adding a good player or two along the way rather than worrying about how they sign a player for half of a million dollars. Kirk Cousins plays for what you would consider a small market team and signed a1 year, $35,000,000 contract, which included a $25,000,000 signing bonus, $35,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $35,000,000. Cousins' didn't sign that contract with the LA Rams or the Green Bay Packers; he signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Do you think that if Cousins were an MLB player or if there was no salary cap in the NFL, he would be playing in Minnesota?
Green Bay Packers QB Arron Rodgers has the biggest contract in the NFL and has an annual salary of 50.3 million. Despite having the highest salary in the NFL in 2022, Rodgers has only won one super bowl over his career. Do you think that if there weren't a salary cap in the NFL, Rodgers would be playing in Green Bay?? Having a salary cap in the NFL gives each team a fighting chance of at least an equal chance to sign top talent no matter the team's market. Competition among teams is better, so the product on the field is better.
The NFL has done an amazing job at creating fans of teams for life without a pitch clock or worrying about the pace of play. The fair and equal amount of money each team spends on players encourages negotiation and compromise between the player and the team to come to an agreement that benefits both the player and the team. Not one side of the deal makes out the winner, benefiting the most important person: The FAN.
In conclusion, no matter how much MLB tries to improve the game's speed with gimmicks like a pitch clock, players on second during extra innings, or more teams making the playoffs, baseball will never expand its reach if it is unwilling to find a way to equal the playing field between the big and the smaller markets teams. Suppose the MLB commissioner's goal is to expand the number of teams shortly. In that case, he should only look to expanding in big market cities because, at the end of the day, those are the only teams that can afford half of a billion-dollar contract player contract in the future.
So how do three teams in New York City, LA work for everyone?