Tuesday, April 06, 2010

existential numbers

This from the AP begs for parsing.   Numbers I pull from it include: 
  • 6  = Ratio of Yankees total payroll to that of the Pirates
  • -29% = Pirates decline in payroll from last year
  • 0 = Number of teams with lower payroll than the Pirates

The NHL sets a lower limit of the payroll range for teams which acts as the opposite of a salary cap… so it's a minimum that each team must pay out. If such a thing existed in baseball, would not the Pirates be below it? Maybe it's time for MLB to set a payroll minimum.  In the end it's kind of a metaphysical question, but how little can you spend and still be counted as a major league professional sports team?

But if we rank teams by operating income??   and then update with the latest numbers, what would you get? 


Anonymous johnnyg said...

It's a combination of big market owners and the players union not wanting any "cap" or "floor". The big market teams make serious money between full stadia and lucrative local TV contracts. For example, the New England Sports Network is owned by the Red Sox and is carried throughout New England. The Pirates' market--even if it had its own network--is hemmed in by the Reds, Indians, Phillies, Orioles, and (maybe one day) the Nats (though, the Nats AA team is in Harrisburg, so there's some theoretical affinity).

As for the players, study after study that I've seen--including by a roommate in college for his thesis--shows that salary caps and floors don't really end up hurting the stars so much as the average players, whose earnings are significantly reduced b/c more of the capped money goes to the stars. So, it makes sense for the vast majority of players to hold out for no cap or floor, so as to maximize their earnings.

The other problem with a floor is that you can have teams like the mid-oughts Pirates. Team that spent 65-70 million and still going nowhere. Right now, as a baseball fan, I want to believe that the current Pirates ownership is spending on the farm system--where every team starts. Look at the back-to-back NL champion Phillies. After a dreadful late 90s, the team rebuilt the farm system. The core of the team (Rollins, Utley, Howard, Hamels, Ruiz) is home grown--and not all were top draft picks. Howard went in the 5th round.

I'd be more worried about the NFL, if I were Pittsburgh (or Green Bay or Minneapolis or Nashville). Big market owners (Dallas, Boston, NYJ, NYG, Washington, Chicago) want to get rid of the salary cap because of the revenue they can generate from their 100,000 seat stadiums. And, don't forget, the labor contract has already expired. It will take a vote by 3/4 of the owners to reinstate the cap.

It's a brave new world.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010 10:06:00 AM  

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