Baseball…reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:


    Lots of thoughts on this piece. First off, you ignore how baseball handles player salaries in the early years of their contracts. Arbitration is ridiculous. Players don’t get to sell their skills on the open market until (I believe) year 7 of their Major League career. Seven!

    More to the point, even allowing for arbitration, it is likely true that MLB has a more moral system of player development than the other leagues for many of the reasons listed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the “best” system. “Best” can be defined in a number of ways. The NFL makes more money… BEST! The elite NBA players command the highest annual salaries… BEST! MLB is the most moral… BEST! If we’re going to make an argument for “BEST” we need to define the criteria first.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kazzy says:

      Baseball also has the highest guaranteed salaries for major league players (IIRC) and arbitration allows some other stuff.

      But yes, you’re right of course. I think best should be defined as most sustainable and least exploitative and least dependent on use of force.Report

      • I think my greater point was more:
        Football and basketball are immoral and very unamerican, at least in so far as most people seem to understand the term.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Oh. Yea. This question, at the start, threw me off: “Which league has the best business model?” I read “business model” as, “Which is going to make me the most money for the longest time?” A question that is typically devoid of “morals”.Report

  2. Avatar Rtod says:

    A few initial quibbles – the NBA’s cap IS a cap that signifies the line where a luxury tax is imposed; it also has a revenue sharing plan. It also has a developmental league. (And take it from someone who lives in a state with perennial College World Series playoff schools OSU and UO, MLB absolutely uses colleges and universities to train its talent for free.). Also, the lockouts in both the NFL and NBA happened because they can’t cut salaries or caps without union agreement.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rtod says:

      The difference between the NBA and MLB’s tax lines is what is allowable after it has been passed. In the MLB, you can continue to spend willy-nilly. In the NBA, there are restrictions.Report

  3. Avatar Rtod says:

    I think there is a great post to be written (and I’m thinking by either Nob or Kazzy here) about how our perception of different American sports is driven by the imagery, subject matter and quality in Hollywood movies.

    I am not immune to this, especially with baseball – which I totally view through the eyes of a romantic.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Rtod says:

      Done and done. Here goes:

      “We’re suckers for highly constructed narratives.”

      Heh… I don’t know how great I am because I’m not the biggest fan of sports movies. I thought “Field of Dreams” was largely oversentimental crap… though I may be misremembering it because I only saw it once.

      Personally, I think there are larger forces at work. Was there a slew of basketball movies that sullied the NBA’s reputation made in the late 90s? Or do a certain segment of fans bristle with what they perceive to be tattooed thugs playing defenseless me-ball?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        Field of Dreams is definitely crap, but I can’t pretend I don’t like listening to James Earl Jones say just about anything. He could say, “I eat babies,” and I’d think it was pretty awesome.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

          On the other hand, Kevin Costner could say, “I want to give you my entire fortune,” and I’d still hate listening to him.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

            True. And he’d say it like he’s reading it from cue cards.Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Chris says:

              Kostner was OK in that movie; sweet and goofy, instead of taking himself so seriously. And he was actually good in Bull Durham. Apparently he needs to play a baseball player with a red-haired significant other to be bearable. And Burt Lancaster was awesome.

              The book was better. (Fun fact: the JEJ character was JD Salinger there.)Report

  4. Avatar Peter says:

    What this country needs – but will never get, of course – is a federal law prohibiting state and local governments from using taxpayer funds or tax-revenue-backed bonds for building professional sports facilities. It would put an end to the constant beggar-thy-neighbor arms race to build bigger and more lavish stadiums and arenas in the hopes of luring teams from other cities.Report

  5. Avatar NewDealer says:

    There has always been a narrative that baseball represents American innocence because it is a relatively cheap sport. All you need is a ball, a bat, some mitts, and a field to play in. Many of the great players came from rural areas and small towns. Some came from big cities.

    However, this myth of American innocence can always be used to call out minorities in American life for corrupting the spirit of America.

    I am not against sports or pro-sports but I don’t want to give them myths. They are what they are.Report

  6. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    I sorta feel like I should’ve waited on publishing this…so that my other post would get more attention first.Report

  7. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    Odd, I thought Nob was going to point out that baseball has the only players’ union that’s never suffered a crushing defeat.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    When viewed in competitive parity, this system has helped to create more playoff diversity in baseball than the hard salary restrictions in the NFL have.

    The nature of the game certainly has something to do with it. Winning 100 games (winning percentage just over 60%) is considered very good; losing 100 (winning percentage just under 40%) is a miserable team. In a sixteen-game NFL season, the equivalent would be having the entire league finish somewhere between 10-6 and 6-10. I would argue that playoff diversity would be much higher in the NFL if the game structure were such that regular-season won-loss records stayed in that narrow band. It’s a pretty rare season these days that the NFL doesn’t have at least one or two teams that go 13-3, while no team in MLB history has ever done that well.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

      It also depends on how you define parity. I don’t think new teams in the playoffs is ideal, especially because MLB’s smaller pool of playoff teams increases turnover. In MLB, you have teams like the Pirates and, until this year, the Orioles who had gone a very long time without making the playoffs. Every NFL team has made the playoffs within the past decade.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kazzy says:

        That’s not true. The Bills haven’t been in a playoff game since 1999. And I dunno if the technicalities really count for a lot of the wild card teams…

        The fact that there’s 12 playoff teams per 32 teams in the NFL means you have a much better chance of making the playoffs at any rate with 4 divisions per conference and 2 wild cards.Report