MOSCOW – The major news in Major League Baseball right now should be – as Buddy Diaz pointed out yesterday – about pitchers and catchers reporting. Instead it is all about the current labor dispute. That labor dispute is what it is and I have no opinion on the outcome save for the fact I don’t want to see the DH in the National League. There is however a much greater issue that baseball faces that rarely gets talked about.
55.9%. This is the personal income tax rate in Denmark. Man, am I glad I don’t live in Denmark. 55.4%. This is the personal income tax rate in France. Man am I glad I don’t live in France. 48%. This is the MLB profit sharing percentage of gate revenue that all teams contribute to the profit sharing fund. Man am I glad I don’t own the Dodgers… Wait… never-mind on that one. I would gladly own the Dodgers. However, the Dodgers are the largest payee into the most broken system in all of professional sports. Net-net large market teams that make more money are giving their profits to the small market teams as a way to make up for their inability to generate local revenue. In 2019 for example, the Marlins were the biggest payee receiving around seventy million dollars. The Marlins total payroll is around thirty million for players leaving forty million excess not counting their national revenue share and their remaining 52% of gate revenue. All in, the Marlins and many other teams are making money hand over fist without having to try to win.
A system wherein many teams do not try is a greater threat to baseball than any labor dispute. So how do we fix it? Here are a few ideas:
Imagine a world wherein the two worst records in baseball are forced to play the two best AAA teams in the same season. Best of seven series played during the World Series off days or day games concurrent. The winners stay in the MLB. The losers are relegated to AAA. If a AAA team wins they take the rights to the losing MLB team’s stadium and their rights to the profit sharing. The nice thing about this is that the Cleveland Guardians name is sooooo bad is makes sense for them to play AAA ball anyways. Conversely who doesn’t want to see the Durham Bulls honor Crash Davis on opening day in Cleveland? Another natural transition would be for the Gwinett Stripers to replace the Marlins in Miami. It would be an easy transition to simply change the kind of fish on all the signage.
We have all heard of the luxury tax and it is a point of contention in the labor talks. This tax penalizes the rich teams for spending too much. Why not tax the teams that aren’t trying a percentage of their revenue sharing, for the gap between an acceptable level of bad and abject failure? If you set the bar at 63 wins to avoid the tax, the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and Rangers would all be penalized based on last year’s standings. In order to cause this tax to even the playing field the collective tax revenue could be put into a lottery and be required to be spent in free agency. If each team lost 10% of their profit sharing revenue that would be around twenty million dollars. All of a sudden the Pirates win the lottery and are able to sign an ace or a big bat to a one to two year deal. Oh, and by the way, the team winning this lottery gets first rights to negotiate with all restricted free agents before the incumbent teams do.
Players on Loan –
This is another European soccer idea that is likely the most palatable to the union and to the big club owners. Every team has at least one player that is sitting in AAA that should be playing at the MLB level. The problem is that numerous talented players are waiting in the wings behind players with big contracts. So why not take those players and let them get MLB experience while retaining the rights to sign the player? For example the Mets top prospect is a catcher named Francisco Alvarez. Is he better than McCann? Maybe maybe not. Why not loan Alvarez to a small market team that needs a catcher. Alvarez gets service time and an MLB salary. The Mets get to prove their talent before wasting their own lineup time or money on the player. The small market team gets a player for the season that is better than anything they have on the farm or in the clubhouse.
This one is pretty simple. The team with the worst record in baseball must sign Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal for the following season and he must get at least fifteen starts. If Bartolo gets hurt then Jamie Moyer will fill in for him. WHEN Jamie Moyer gets hurt then Short Matt will take the ball the rest of the way. WHEN Short Matt gets hurt the ball will be placed on a tee. If this doesn’t incentivize winning what will?
And now, here’s Cameron with a Winter Olympics update….
My predictions about ski injuries and conditions in general at the Olympics have rung true. If Italy isn’t part of the Soviet Union in four years, there will be a return to real snow.
That’s it for me. Feel free to weigh-in below and come back to Short Matt, who is living large in Indy.