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MLB is Broken


Steve71
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After watching another non-competitive game last night for our local 9, I did some digging to see if the numbers support my growing conviction that this League is broken.

The vast gulf between the have and have-not franchises in a league which has refused to embrace parity and revenue sharing, and a players Union that is more concerned about the top 5% than the 95% of the rest of the players has ruined the game.

As of this morning, Aug 10, 2022, the top 8 revenue teams have a combined run differential of plus 845.

The bottom 8 teams have a combined run differential of minus 310.

Our local squad has not faced the Mets, but so far vs. the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros and Padres they are a combined 2-10 with a run differential of minus 48.  That is an average run deficit of 4 runs per game on average.

The Twins last night statistically had only a 25.1% chance of winning the game, which of course they did not.  Think about that.  3-1 odds we were going to lose.  That is ridiculous.

I can no longer watch the NBA for many reasons.

The NFL is the shining example of a league with actual parity.

MLB has become a total joke.  This breaks my heart, as I grew up playing baseball and it is a life-long passion.  It is a beautiful, beautiful game.

But they have ruined it by destroying competitive balance.  They cannot even agree to an equitable means to administer the international draft.

And, PLEASE, don't give me the "Tampa is a plucky franchise" and "Atlanta pulled it out last year" tired examples.  Sure, outliers happen, but the dominant advantage the large-market teams have is simply unfair and inimical to the proverbial "even playing field".

Rant over.

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Yeah, competitive balance is a big problem in sports. I hoped that a salary floor would have been a higher priority during the last CBA negotiations to offset the haves and have nots.

I don’t believe a salary cap will fix anything, because as we’re seeing in other sports like basketball and hockey, the cap can be manipulated. For example, it may take $35 million for the Twins to sign Carlos Correa. But in the salary cap world, he could choose to sign with the Yankees for $20 million and recruit another top player to join him for $15 million. Knowing that winning a championship will bring endorsement deals to offset the salary lost. 

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In the CBA negotiations this offseason it became clear to me that players' idea of "fair competition" is that teams can compete for their services without artificial caps or luxury taxes. Some genius needs to figure out a way to somehow increase parity without players being the ones that pay for it.

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6 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

Yeah, competitive balance is a big problem in sports. I hoped that a salary floor would have been a higher priority during the last CBA negotiations to offset the haves and have nots.

I don’t believe a salary cap will fix anything, because as we’re seeing in other sports like basketball and hockey, the cap can be manipulated. For example, it may take $35 million for the Twins to sign Carlos Correa. But in the salary cap world, he could choose to sign with the Yankees for $20 million and recruit another top player to join him for $15 million. Knowing that winning a championship will bring endorsement deals to offset the salary lost. 

The "fix" is really simple but MLB won't ever agree to it. Share television revenue the same way gate revenue is shared. When the Twins go to face the Dodgers in LA, they get a 50% percent cut of 1/81 of the Dodgers TV revenue.

That way the Dodgers still have a significant advantage - they get 50% of their massive TV contract - but other teams raise their floor while also lowering the ceiling of the Dodgers.

Then create a salary cap/floor based on 50% of league revenue. Everybody wins. The players receive more money, the league sees more competitive balance, and big market teams still have an advantage.

Of course, this plan would require MLB to see past their nose for even a moment so this will not happen.

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I think its much more than big market /small market that is causing MLB and other sports to be less attractive. Media over exposure is a huge culprit and the way the game(s) is /are played today have made MLB in particular at times bordering on brutal to watch. As far as eventual World Series winner is concerned, the Yankees just ended a 5 game losing streak and the AL may have a surprise entry but no question Yankees and Astros are more than likely.  Ditto Dodgers and Mets in the NL. All in all that is not unusual. It is the nature of the game itself and the total control exerted by the media that makes the game less than entertaining most of the time.

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13 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

The "fix" is really simple but MLB won't ever agree to it. Share television revenue the same way gate revenue is shared. When the Twins go to face the Dodgers in LA, they get a 50% percent cut of 1/81 of the Dodgers TV revenue.

That way the Dodgers still have a significant advantage - they get 50% of their massive TV contract - but other teams raise their floor while also lowering the ceiling of the Dodgers.

Then create a salary cap/floor based on 50% of league revenue. Everybody wins. The players receive more money, the league sees more competitive balance, and big market teams still have an advantage.

Of course, this plan would require MLB to see past their nose for even a moment so this will not happen.

This seems far too logical.  And MUCH to logical for MLB to adopt it.

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This has been a huge problem for me, the CBA negotiations were a huge disappointment. They really had a chance to make some meaningful changes and ended up with more of the same. Why so little change, follow the money. The owners are making money- big market teams with good teams on the field are raking it in, even the small market teams with poor results on the field are making good money with revenue sharing. Brock's fix would be a huge step in the right direction. But when MLB allows such a spending gap, some teams around 60M  payroll and others 200M+, how can there be parity.

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I sometimes think that the only way major league baseball could be fixed would be if another totally different league with rules that support better parity blew up and overtook MLB (which is pretty impossible!). Any improvement that's good for the fans is bad for either the players or the owners (at least in the short term, which is all that the owners take into account).

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7 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

This seems far too logical.  And MUCH to logical for MLB to adopt it.

And this is why I roll my eyes when people blame the players. The real, permanent fix for MLB can only come from ownership. The players are nibbling at the margins, the owners are the people who need to implement the massive, sweeping revenue fixes that need to happen.

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3 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

And this is why I roll my eyes when people blame the players. The real, permanent fix for MLB can only come from ownership. The players are nibbling at the margins, the owners are the people who need to implement the massive, sweeping revenue fixes that need to happen.

I don't think the players are blameless, but I agree that it's largely on the ownership side.  Especially when they won't open their books enough to actually analyze how much cash is actually being made.

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Yup, baseball is broken.

1. Bust the union, like the NFL did, is step one. The union is by far the biggest detriment to competitive balance. Players, BTW, needn't lose much if any money in thr process. A little more can go to the minor leagues, more to the average MLB players, a lot less to the few at the top.

2. Share the money. Almost all of it. This is one area where ownership needs to show some foresight. Share it among ownership, and the players.

3. Hard salary cap and hard salary floor. Non negotiable. No exceptions. The Dodgers don't get to spend 1 penny over the cap. The A's don't get to spend 1 penny under. If they're sharing revenues, this is doable. 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

Yup, baseball is broken.

1. Bust the union, like the NFL did, is step one. The union is by far the biggest detriment to competitive balance.

Complete and utter nonsense. The biggest gulf in baseball right now is television revenue and the players HAVE ZERO CONTROL OVER ANY OF THAT. You have this giant hard-on for the players and it just doesn't jibe with reality, Chief.

30 years ago, the Royals regularly had the largest payroll in baseball. What changed? It sure ain't the players.

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33 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

I don't think the players are blameless, but I agree that it's largely on the ownership side.  Especially when they won't open their books enough to actually analyze how much cash is actually being made.

Oh, the players are jackasses in their own right, no doubt about that. But they have little to no control over the huge systemic issues with the sport. Far and away the biggest issues are revenue-based and players don't control revenue, owners do.

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For anyone who wants to blame the players, before you do so look at the following statement:

The Dodgers receive $240m every year from their television deal. The Brewers receive $40m every year from their television deal. This revenue is not shared in any meaningful way.

That is a $200m advantage to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers payroll is $265m this season.

The players have no control over television revenue. Who does? Ownership.

Please explain to me how players are the real problem here.

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I would like to point out there have been 8 unique World Series Winners in the last 8 years. (Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, Astros, Cubs, Royals, Giants) and in those 8 years 11 different teams have went to the world series. the only teams twice (Royals, Astros, Dodgers)

There was a run of 3 World Series for the Giants and the Red Sox wontwice in 5 years,  but them you start adding teams like Detroit, Cardinals, Rangers, Yankees, Phillies, That is over half the teams being in the world series in the last 12 or so years.

 

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6 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

I would like to point out there have been 8 unique World Series Winners in the last 8 years. (Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, Astros, Cubs, Royals, Giants) and in those 8 years 11 different teams have went to the world series. the only teams twice (Royals, Astros, Dodgers)

There was a run of 3 World Series for the Giants and the Red Sox wontwice in 5 years,  but them you start adding teams like Detroit, Cardinals, Rangers, Yankees, Phillies, That is over half the teams being in the world series in the last 12 or so years.

 

It's isn't about the WS, it is about overall competitiveness. 

This conversation hasn't even touched on fixing the draft to give bad teams more early picks so they improve faster.... In the NFL and NBA, bad teams can get good fast. Not so in the current MLB structure.

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Baseball has always been a mirror reflection of American society, and I expect it always will be.

The level of inequality between haves and have-nots in the US continues to accelerate.

When and how this will possibly change is utterly unpredictable.

And yes, baseball, like many aspects of our society, seems to have exhausted any semblance of being on a level playing field, much less enjoyable to watch and believe in as a National Pastime.

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Yeah, it often boils down to how much teams can go over cap. Also, what can they absorb in Bad Contracts.

The Twins are currently paying 10 players NOT to contribute this season, a well as major league contracts to Minaya and Cotton (and before recently Cave) to play in the minors while not on the major league roster.

I love looking at the HOT free agents for next year and the outrageous salaries the players will demand overtime. Correa is an example, and the Twins at least had the budget tio pay him to come and play (that is often an issue, a player would rather play on a marquee team than, say, the Twins).

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29 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

It's isn't about the WS, it is about overall competitiveness. 

This conversation hasn't even touched on fixing the draft to give bad teams more early picks so they improve faster.... In the NFL and NBA, bad teams can get good fast. Not so in the current MLB structure.

I was just pointing out facts on parity.  I get the salary disparity and how certain teams can recover from bad contracts. bad draft picks, injuries and what not. And that helps the high payroll teams be more competitive just about every year but doesn't guarantee anything.

IMO the problem with baseball is more the way the game is being played (shifts, pitching limits, and the fact that teams generally don't spend on players until they good and if development isn't good that can seem to take forever) more then the salaries of teams and piss poor management from quite a few teams that always seem to be bad.

But you are 100% wrong about how bad NBA team or even NFL teams can go from bad to go fast, because of those leagues are basically won by stars or in the case of the NFL mostly star QB's. (Lebron James and Curry have won 8 of the last 11 NBA championships) and like two or maybe 3 of the last 20 super bowls have been won by HOF QB's.

Edit:

With that said it doesn't mean I would like to see some tweaks here or there, but as long as certain teams are going to continue to run their team the same way, giving them more money isn't going to change that much, and a floor would probably hurt the "poorest" teams the most, because they will have to spend to it and would just pay the likes of Bundy more on a one year contract (for example). The "smart" teams realize not paying older players a ton of money is a good thing and continue to run good pre-arb players out there and then trade them for more prospects is a better way to invest and also limiting their pitchers drive down their price heading into free agency.

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Great write-up and questions. Agree with Brock's take on the TV contracts. As the NFL is the gold-standard of competitiveness, and though not apples to apples comparison, it is pretty clear that balance in the NFL is served by equal shares in television revenues. Green Bay Packers reported 275 million in TV revenue sharing from the league for last season. Shares of similar magnitude in MLB would instantly and dramatically re-shape MLB competitive balance for the better, without any question.

The problem though is that we are celebrating this year the 100th anniversary of MLB gaining exemption from anti-trust laws. The whole basis of retaining the exemption is the belief that MLB is not an enterprise that conducts inter-state commerce, so MLB has been and will remain businesses tied to local markets. This is the only reason why LA and NY can monopolize local TV contracts. I dont quite understand why the Pohlads of the MLB universe do not press to end the charade, but they too have financial interests in the current structure, just much more limited than NY or LA.

I dont know how the exemption ultimately goes away. Congress makes noise every once in awhile, like, in election cycles. But never ever has anything seriously been attempted to rectify this situation. The continuance of the exemption makes a mockery of federal anti-trust law and judicial precedents, and it should embarrass those with power to make changes who do nothing. But given the recent move to integrate gambling-related revenues into the cash stream, and, dont even get me started on maintaining the federal tax credits our local ownership group, among others,  continues to benefit from for building the stadium-with public money-it's really hard to see how there is any path forward in quashing the exemption.

The quality of the sport itself suffers, but apparently the quality of the profit margins are enough to keep the ownership group satisfied, even if it means your team gets to be crushed without mercy on a regular basis by the Big Boys. So yes, I agree, MLB is broken from the perspective of the fans. The League, owners, players, and agents, not so much.

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The NFL has parity! I keep seeing this BS, I keep thrashing it with statistics and the BS keeps getting reposted.

6 teams in the NFL had a winning percentage of .706 or higher last year. (that's 114 wins or more in a baseball season)
6 teams in the NFL had a winning percentage of .235 or lower last year. (that's 38 or fewer wins in a baseball season) 38 wins is below what would be expected if the AAA St. Paul Saints had to play the Twins' schedule. If the St. Paul Saints played the Twins' schedule, they'd be expected to finish 45-117 (.277). What do you think the record of the Golden Gophers would be if they played the Vikings schedule? I'll help you out. 0-17, with 17 blowout losses by 30pts or more.

Every year the NFL features a half dozen teams with a winning percentage lower than any MLB team and higher than any MLB team. There is only parity in player salary. There is utterly no parity in on the field results.

None of the major sports have as much turnover in the playoffs as MLB. More teams make the playoffs in MLB in a span of 5 or 10 years than any of the other major sports.
None of the major sports have fewer and shorter playoff droughts than MLB.
None of the major sports have more competitive regular season reasons as MLB.

The NFL is far, far, FAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR away from a model which should be replicated for competitive balance.
 

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1 hour ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

I would like to point out there have been 8 unique World Series Winners in the last 8 years. (Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, Astros, Cubs, Royals, Giants) and in those 8 years 11 different teams have went to the world series. the only teams twice (Royals, Astros, Dodgers)

There was a run of 3 World Series for the Giants and the Red Sox wontwice in 5 years,  but them you start adding teams like Detroit, Cardinals, Rangers, Yankees, Phillies, That is over half the teams being in the world series in the last 12 or so years.

 

Yeah, and the Royals stick out like a sore thumb. The rest are in the top part of the MLB money makers.

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17 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

The NFL has parity! I keep seeing this BS, I keep thrashing it with statistics and the BS keeps getting reposted.

6 teams in the NFL had a winning percentage of .706 or higher last year. (that's 114 wins or more in a baseball season)
6 teams in the NFL had a winning percentage of .235 or lower last year. (that's 38 or fewer wins in a baseball season) 38 wins is below what would be expected if the AAA St. Paul Saints had to play the Twins' schedule. If the St. Paul Saints played the Twins' schedule, they'd be expected to finish 45-117 (.277). What do you think the record of the Golden Gophers would be if they played the Vikings schedule? I'll help you out. 0-17, with 17 blowout losses by 30pts or more.

Every year the NFL features a half dozen teams with a winning percentage lower than any MLB team and higher than any MLB team. There is only parity in player salary. There is utterly no parity in on the field results.

None of the major sports have as much turnover in the playoffs as MLB. More teams make the playoffs in MLB in a span of 5 or 10 years than any of the other major sports.
None of the major sports have fewer and shorter playoff droughts than MLB.
None of the major sports have more competitive regular season reasons as MLB.

The NFL is far, far, FAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR away from a model which should be replicated for competitive balance.
 

I think you're missing the point. Everyone is calling for parity in markets. Tampa, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Kansas City are just as viable as the bigger markets.

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10 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

I think you're missing the point. Everyone is calling for parity in markets. Tampa, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Kansas City are just as viable as the bigger markets.

That is true, but they do play once a week and all teams basically sell out every game, can the same be said about MLB teams?

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2 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

For anyone who wants to blame the players, before you do so look at the following statement:

The Dodgers receive $240m every year from their television deal. The Brewers receive $40m every year from their television deal. This revenue is not shared in any meaningful way.

That is a $200m advantage to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers payroll is $265m this season.

The players have no control over television revenue. Who does? Ownership.

Please explain to me how players are the real problem here.

Who resists revenue sharing, salary caps, payroll taxes? 

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