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Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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15 Responses

  1. Chris Dierkes says:

    As a lifelong Reds fan, quintessential small market town, this is why I can’t watch MLB any longer. F–k the Yankees and the whole system.

    The NFL collective bargaining, while not perfect, is so vastly superior to baseball, it just makes for such a more entertaining league. (i.e. Teams can come out of nowhere and make runs toward the title, like last year’s Arizona Cardinals).Report

    • Mark in reply to Chris Dierkes says:

      I’m not a huge fan of parity. It’s not like the Yankees win every year; and people do enjoy hating them. And the Reds…they have themselves to blame for their failure, not the system!Report

    • So the Rockies making their improbable run (sputtering at the end of the season, but eh), the Rays making the World Series last year after a decade of futility, etc. etc. don’t count? Maybe I’ve been watching a different league from the rest of y’all, but the Yankees didn’t even make the post-season last year, and haven’t won a World Series since 2000.

      What am I missing?Report

      • Freddie in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        You’re missing the fact that exceptions don’t disprove the larger trend: making the playoffs largely correlates with having a higher payroll.Report

        • Nob Akimoto in reply to Freddie says:

          Except the issue in question is that the NFL has more “cinderella” teams, not the possibility of making the playoffs. Although the degree to which there’s parity in the NFL is often played up by its supporters, their playoff teams have been significantly more stable year in and year out than in MLB.

          There’s been more examples of MLB teams coming out of no where to win the World Series or their league pennant in the last 10 years than NFL teams doing the same. Part of it is likely due to the dynastic nature of NFL teams once they acquire a few fixed franchise players, but I don’t think that football is any more “equal” than baseball.Report

  2. Bob Cheeks says:

    In the 1960 WS, the “Maz” hit the winning home run against the hated Yanks! Life was good! I don’t watch baseball anymore, it’s boring, predictable, and the Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t beat the Batavia Muckdogs.Report

  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    I follow the Rockies because it’s a small market club near my home. The owners are notoriously cheap and demand the team, for the most part, be formed through their farm system. Occasionally they allow the GM to work some deals that pan out (Houston Street, Carlos Gonzalez). Watching a team gel is great fun, and sometimes, ala Tampa Bay, they make it to the big time.Report

  4. Freddie says:

    To be clear, the problem is the system– my team is a big market club too and can vastly overpay. The point is that there’s little to cheer in a victory that’s so driven by economic imbalance. Reform, baseball!

    That said, sports is all about proud irrationality. Die, Yankees, die. Seriously.Report

  5. Zach says:

    A lack of parity doesn’t hurt college football or basketball (obv this is helped by the 4-year churn). Note that you could’ve written this about the Yankees in any year for quite some time, and it’s famously not panned out for them for several years while some of the league’s lowest-payroll franchises have made some fantastic runs (that wouldn’t have been nearly as notable or exciting with salary caps). I’d gladly scrap the NFL’s revenue sharing and collective bargaining agreements and have the league broken up into independent franchises. A few teams would go out of business, but otherwise this would benefit players for obvious reasons and fans w/ less ridiculous broadcast agreements. The league would benefit from more competitive pressure… every team is profitable.

    This will basically never, ever happen because the MLB players union is actually competent, unlike its NBA and NFL equivalents. Although there are other barriers to stacking your team in the NFL, next year is a cap-free year so we can have an imperfect test of whether a salary cap is a good thing or not. At the least, the Redskins ought to stop being so horrible since they’re the most profitable team in the NFL.Report

    • Freddie in reply to Zach says:

      Note that you could’ve written this about the Yankees in any year for quite some time, and it’s famously not panned out for them for several years while some of the league’s lowest-payroll franchises have made some fantastic runs (that wouldn’t have been nearly as notable or exciting with salary caps).

      You hear this a lot. The playoffs represent a small sample size, which maximizes the role of chance. In terms of regular season, higher payroll correlates very well with wins. It’s not a guarantee of anything, as the Mets will prove. But in terms of overall trend lines, higher payroll teams correspond with more successful teams in terms of making the playoffs and winning divisions. This Yankees team is a perfect example of why: an already above-average team was able to sign by far the three best players available. No other players, or teams, came close. No one in their right mind would design a league from scratch with that kind of disparity in the ability of individual teams to get ahold of the top talent.

      I’m confused, incidentally, by your ideas about what is good for the NFL, particularly considering every NFL team is already profitable. Suppose you get what you want and the Redskins and Cowboys can simply outspend every other team and constantly get the best talent. Why would a fan from Green Bay ever get into football? A fan from Jacksonville? Their teams would have a huge and intrinsic disadvantage. That would lower the number of people interested in football, lowering the number of fans buying tickets and merchandise. This is how it is in baseball– small market teams don’t draw any fans, don’t sell merchandise, don’t get lucrative local television contracts, and don’t make money. That’s not good for baseball; it’s terrible for baseball. But it’s absolutely rational on the part of the fans. A 12-year old in Kansas City has absolutely no reason to become a fan of the Royals. It isn’t rational to root for a team without a meaningful chance to compete. That 12-year old, meanwhile, could potentially be a life-long fan, bringing interest and money to MLB. As it stands, he’ll worship Tony Hawk instead.Report

      • Zach in reply to Freddie says:

        Oddly enough I’m making this argument as an ex-Kansan who’s been a Royals fan since the age of 12. Savoring the chance to repeat our stellar 1994 outcome at almost making the postseason. Also, I get to shake my fist when Beltran, Damon, and Dye do well, so I’ve got that going for me, and we have a decent pitcher these days.

        I don’t think it’s that obvious that there would be more baseball fans with perfect parity. You certainly wouldn’t have ubiquitous Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox fans in every corner of the country; they wouldn’t buy as many annoying hats. You’d be shipping money from good markets to poor markets and wind up keeping the Expos in Montreal, keeping the Royals from seeing a necessary change in ownership, etc.

        Small market teams lacking fans has as much to do with being in small markets as it does with being horrible. Looking at the Royals’ yearly attendance figures I see that, despite kicking ass in 2003 before the break, there was hardly a blip in attendance.

        Even with the salary cap and a larger fraction of teams in the postseason, the NFL winds up with dynasties stretching over several seasons… I suspect that having the pats and steelers represent the AFC almost every year for a decade in the Super Bowl was better for business than the alternative.Report

  6. Chris Dierkes says:

    The issue isn’t perfect parity. It’s just a bit of a more level playing field structurally. It doesn’t correlate with parity in results. As was mentioned, even in the NFL The Patriots and The Steelers of late have had what you might call dynasties. The Colts have been very good for awhile now. Personnel still matters, coaching still matters, team chemistry & leadership still matter, like in any sport.

    I think there’s a balance and while nobody is perfect, I think the NFL has struck a decent middle between MLB which I think has given too “free market” if you like and NBA which I think has suffered from over-expansion of teams.Report

  7. Trumwill says:

    This will basically never, ever happen because the MLB players union is actually competent, unlike its NBA and NFL equivalents.

    It’s not a matter of competence. The MLB had a leg up on the other leagues because baseball is more about individual talent than teamwork when compared to football or basketball. And, of course, it was “America’s Game”.

    However, the success of the player’s union in baseball has destroyed any chance the NFL and NBA unions might have had. Having seen what happens when players and player unions get too much power (not just increased salaries, but an increased likelihood of a strike/lockout), the NFL and NBA will never, ever allow themselves to be put in that position.Report