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The system is broken, MLB has to fix it

Maybe the problem isn’t the Orioles. Maybe the reason the Orioles are headed for their 14th-straight losing season has to do with the bigger picture of Major League Baseball where teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, and Colorado Rockies just can’t compete for the long-haul either.

What if it’s not the Orioles that are broken but it’s the game itself?

The Orioles aren't the only team having faces years of losing, there are plenty of teams stuck in a rutt with them.

Patience is wearing very thin here in Baltimore and it seems like a long dark tunnel of perpetual losing is destined for the Orioles, but just look around the league and notice that the Orioles aren’t the only ones. There are plenty of teams in Major League Baseball that have just been horrible for a long time.

Sure, you might see one or two teams jump up from the bottom into the playoffs every now and then but eventually things go back to the way they were. Just look at the Tampa Bay Rays; two years ago they were in the World Series but now they’re well out of the playoffs despite still being one of the better teams in baseball.

I for one was always of the mindset that any person who owns a Major League Baseball team has the ability to pay the best athletes around top dollar and contend for a World Series every year but now I’m starting to see that, that may not be entirely the case.

Let’s just take a look at the San Diego Padres. The Padres were a team with one of the top first basemen in all of baseball in Adrian Gonzalez. If all was fair the Padres would have been able to keep Gonzalez for what ever sort of price he demanded and they would have built a contending team around him.

But that wasn’t what happened or could happen. Before the season the Padres, knowing they were going to lose Gonzalez eventually because of his big bill, traded him to the Boston Red Sox in a deal for a couple minor leaguers, none of whom had the potential to be as productive as Gonzalez.

Essentially, the small market teams have become an advanced minor league team for the teams with huge bankrolls, like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies, which happens to be the teams with the three best records in Major League Baseball right now.

A problem is easy to figure out, it’s the solution that takes some thinking to develop but it is pretty obvious what has to be done to create a more competitive balance in baseball: a hard salary cap. A luxury tax system, like baseball has in place right now, only hurts the small market teams because money is no issue for the Yankees or Red Sox or Phillies. When the Yankees can pay more in luxury tax than the Florida Marlins can pay for their entire roster, something is wrong.

There are two major sports leagues in America that have hard cap systems: the NFL and NHL. Both have significant parity. Every year nearly half of the playoff teams change in the NFL and going from worst to first is not an impossible task, it happens almost every single year. Same in the NHL, there is a lot of parity in the sport because there is a hard cap system and when a team goes out and gets a championship winning team if probably won’t last long (see the Chicago Black Hawks and their fire sale after they won the Stanley Cup in 2010).

The NBA and MLB are the two leagues without a hard salary cap and neither one have much parity. The NBA actually finally opened their eyes and saw their soft cap system as a reason that most of the teams in the league are losing money and why the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have nearly half of the league’s championships and now they are in a lockout because they have a strong desire for a hard salary cap.

Too often the argument against a salary cap in baseball is simply “it’s baseball, it’s different so it wouldn’t work.” If it helps make every team in the NFL or NHL competitive how could it not work in Major League Baseball?

Let’s admit, some of these players in the league are paid way more than they should be but when rich teams can afford to drive up the price of average players that’s what happens.

A salary cap in Major League Baseball would work. Nobody faults the Yankees or Red Sox for spending as much money as they do, they’re playing well within the rules of the sport, but buy limiting how much they spend Major League Baseball has the ability of help create a more even field.

Now a salary cap is not the end all be all of competitive balance, teams still need to get the right people in to run an organization. The New York Knicks and Chicago Cubs have the money and market to be the best teams in their respective leagues but bad decisions have not allowed that to happen. The same thing has prevented the Detroit Lions from being a success in the Salary Cap era of professional football.

Bad decisions might have just as much to do with the Orioles lack of winning as a limited budget does but it’s not just the Orioles struggling and Major League Baseball should have an obligation to explore what makes things so uncompetitive and to look for ways to fix it and if they don’t the league might not survive. Fan’s from all over the country are becoming disinterested in baseball because their team just can’t compete with the Yankees and Red Sox and as much money as they make, the league cannot survive with only two teams.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.
One Response to “The system is broken, MLB has to fix it”
  1. Justin says:

    I still don’t think that you can blame the league for the Orioles downfall. I put most of the blame on the tightwad Peter Angelos. He would probably hate a salary cap even more then the yankees and red sox because he wouldn’t want to be forced to spend money to reach the cap minimum. The Orioles probably will never have a winning season again with him as the owner until he sells or croaks the Orioles will not improve no matter what the league does.

    On a side note however I do like the idea that is being bounced around which involves moving a team from the national league into the american league and having two division of 15. Then the Orioles won’t constantly be stuck behind the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East but rather be in the mix of everybody. Still even then you need to beat teams like that in order to get to the playoffs and win, there’s just no way around it and that starts with a new owner and philosophy.