By Jonathan MaldonadoMajor League Baseball is the only major sports league in the United States without a salary cap. This fact leads Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year $275 million deal and rumours that Albert Pujols is seeking to break that record deal with a $300 million contract of his own.
Rodriguez plays for the super wealthy New York Yankees and if Pujols doesn’t see that contract from the St. Louis Cardinals, free agency might lead him to one of the big market, playoff contending teams.
Thirteen MLB teams have higher total salaries than the highest paid NBA team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The New York Yankees salary total alone is more than double that of the Lakers. What doesn’t favour the MLB however is the lack of a salary floor, meaning that teams can pay players as little as they see fit. The lowest paid team in the MLB, the Kansas City royals, is paid almost three times less than the Lakers.
The effects of this payment disparity in MLB are farther reaching than one would expect. The most obvious effect, and often seen as the most painful, is that the same teams are always in playoff contention, leaving almost no chance for smaller market teams to make a run. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are constant desired destinations for the league’s most talented players who enter free agency. The smaller market teams come from essential become minor league teams where these players develop their talents with the hopes of playing for their dream team when their contract is up.
This trend in Major League Baseball often leaves fans of small market or mid market teams in the dark. Unless they purchase MLB television or online packages, they will only get their games locally with no chance of being featured on national broadcasts. Businesses around smaller stadiums will never see the same revenue or profits New York, Los Angeles or Philadelphia businesses make. This lack of business leads to less cash flow in small market cities where teams are left with extremely tight budgets, often leading to running teams strictly on a business mentality, where winning becomes a luxury rather than a necessity. Players don’t want to stay and fans are left with lackluster sports entertainment from professional sports teams.
It may be time for MLB to consider a salary cap in order to give teams a better chance to compete and keep the players they develop. Financially, MLB wouldn’t go for it because the same teams have dominated from the beginning and fan involvement has only gotten better. No other major American sports league has one team who has one its championship 27 times. It would have to be done out of fairness to the fans who are constantly limited to their teams in every way from ticket prices to network blackouts. What is important to consider however is that the fan has a major influence on how much teams can make, and it comes in the power to choose to attend games or participate as consumers for the sponsors and advertisers for their teams.
Jonathan Maldonado is serving as a, SFC Sportswriter Fellow based in New York City. He is a Broadcast Journalism major at Hofstra University. Jonathan comes from the Bronx and is an avid sports fan. The Yankees, Jets and Knicks are his favourite sports teams.