Monday, December 29, 2008

So...Run-DMc favors a salary cap. Why?

In an article entitled "Astonished by spending, McLane favors a salary cap," Run-DMc gave us these nuggets:

“We would love to have a salary cap, but the (players') union has been very resistant to that,”

“These are challenging times for banks and car dealerships,” McLane said. “None of us have knowledge of what the economy is going to do, and that’s a concern for everyone.”

“A lot of people are sitting with season-ticket renewal forms in front of them, choosing to wait awhile and sort things out and see what they‘re able to do with whatever resources they have,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll make a decision to commit to the ballclub if we get off to a good start in April, and some of the people sitting on the sideline will feel they need to get in and get involved.”

A few things to note: it's well-documented how diverse the playoffs have been in baseball over the last eight years (seven different World Series champions). Over the last eight years, the NBA has seen five different Champs; the NFL - six. Hockey? I used to remember a game called that...

But here's the bottom line. A smart owner puts smart people in charge, and everything takes care of itself. The NFL has a salary cap and the Patriots have (until yesterday) what could be considered a dynasty. The San Antonio Spurs have thrived. Handfuls of teams have the pieces in place to compete in any financial circumstance.

I said it before, a high salary does not guarantee success. The Mariners had a $100 million payroll last year, and lost 100 games - the first time in MLB history that has ever happened. Here are your top ten payrolls in 2008: Yankees (missed playoffs), Tigers (missed playoffs), Mets (missed playoffs), Red Sox (lost in ALCS), White Sox (lost in ALDS), Angels (lost in ALDS), Cubs (forgot to play in NLDS), Dodgers (lost in NLCS), Mariners (forgot to play in 2008), Braves (missed playoffs).

So high salaries obviously - and again, this is well-documented - don't translate to playing in October.

Instead, what we're seeing is teams who spend money in player development and scouting are taking over. The Phillies spent $111 million LESS on payroll than the Yankees. The Rays spent half of what the Astros spent on 2008 payroll.

What Drayton seems to be forgetting is that one of the main reasons for the Astros success was two things: (a) A smart GM in Gerry Hunsicker and (b) like it or not, ponying up the money to buy Roger Clemercenary. Having smart people in personnel leads to a lower payroll, because you've constantly got an influx of young talent, which then provides the flexibility to get the missing piece in free agency. Filling nine missing pieces in free agency (Baseball a la Bronx) or running your team like you're trying to complete the 1988 Topps set doesn't work.

What Drayton really wants is Major League Baseball to force owners to not be dumb. Drayton, and that jackass in Milwaukee, wants Bud Selig to provide owners with the excuse that they're unwilling to shell out the money to make the team competitive. Because what's better than not spending the money to get Mark Teixeira? Having fans accept - without question - that your team won't be getting Mark Teixeira. That's what a salary cap does: forces fans to accept financial limitations of men who have no financial limitations.

No one put a gun to Tom Hicks' empty head to sign Alex Rodriguez to a $252 million deal. No one made Drayton sign Carlos Lee to a $100 million contract. The owners put themselves in this mess, and they're pissed that Hank and Hal are showing them for what they are: greedy.

Jim Bouton said "for a hundred years the owners screwed the players. For 25 years the players have screwed the owners - they've got 75 years to go." Drayton doesn't like the salaries the Yankees are paying? Let's not forget that it was Drayton who signed Clemens to a $20 million deal for 25 games.

And as for Drayton's appeal to season-ticket owners with renewal forms sitting on the milk crate that has become the dining room table? That's hypocritical. He's asking Astros fans to invest in the team in an uncertain economic time. Maybe if he took his own advice we would follow suit.