Is a salary cap necessary in Major League Baseball

August 30, 2010

Don't hold your breath

Peter Schmuck

Baltimore Sun

In a perfect world, every major league team would have the same ability to sign free agents and there would be enough economic balance to force more quality players into markets that are less attractive than New York and Los Angeles. In that same perfect world, every team would then sink or swim on the quality of its management and the smaller-market teams would live happily ever after.

In the real world, the Major League Baseball Players Association already won this battle. The players successfully thwarted ownership's attempt in 1994 to implement a salary-cap system, and no one seems willing to broach the subject any more.

Theoretically, a hard cap would promote greater parity — which would be nice — but the sport has tripled its gross revenue since that cataclysmic work stoppage 16 years ago, so don't look for a salary-cap showdown during the next collective-bargaining period.

pschmuck@tribune.com

Game doesn't need it

Juan C. Rodriguez

Sun Sentinel

Forget for a moment that the Players' Association would just as soon disband before it signed off on a salary cap. Even if both sides were open to that model, baseball does not need it.

Everyone assumes the current system is broken because of the payroll disparity between the top and bottom teams. Let the big-market clubs looking for quick fixes keep dumping millions into free agents who don't play up to their contracts. The burden those deals create contributes to competitive balance.

The best argument though: Five teams have won the World Series in as many years, and 20 of 30 teams have reached the postseason at least once over that stretch. If the Rangers and Reds make it this year, it'll be 22 of 30 teams in six years.

jcrodriguez@tribune.com

Balance is the key

Kevin Baxter

Los Angeles Times

Baseball's salary structure has made players richer and the competition better and has rewarded fans who continue to pay (mostly) reasonable prices while cheering teams that (mostly) have a chance at the postseason.

Yes, big-market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox will continue to outspend everyone. And if the luxury tax has done little to restrain them, it has helped raise funds for indigent teams such as the Royals, Pirates and Marlins.

As a result, there has been competitive balance. Of the seven teams either leading or tied for the lead in their divisions Sunday, only the Yankees and Braves have top-10 payrolls. The Padres, who have had the National League's best record virtually all season, are 29th among the 30 teams in payroll, just two spots below the division-leading Rangers.

Parity is strong too. Twenty-one teams have reached the postseason in the last seven years, and there hasn't been a repeat champion this century.

kbaxter@tribune.com

Maintain the status quo

Dave van Dyck

Chicago Tribune

Salary cap? For the national pastime? That's hardly American in spirit.

MLB has revenue sharing, but because some teams abuse it, that doesn't mean it needs new rules. New owners, maybe, but not new rules. If a team that hasn't finished .500 seemingly since the Great Depression wants to drive away what fans are left in a recession, let it.

Soon the fans might realize they deserve better. It would be better to remove the dunce caps from some franchises than to add a salary cap to all of them. Besides, the so-called smaller markets have proved they can win under the system (hello, Padres). Free agency, while far from perfect, at least allows a vestige of how real enterprise is supposed to work.

dvandyck@tribune.com

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