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The North Wind

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I am a marketing major about to start my second year at Northern Michigan University, however, this will be my third year in college. I previously attended a small community college...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal WiertellaMarch 1, 2024

MLB salary cap would please fans

It’s the most exciting time in Major League Baseball: the five-month offseason. It’s a time to watch your favorite team acquire free agents, make trades, re-tool the roster, or for the small market teams, lose your star players.

After years of stacked rosters and predictable outcomes, it’s time to implement a hard salary cap in the MLB.

Big market teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs have been muscling out the lower-end market teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates for years. The cycle is taking the skill out of management and putting it in the dollar bill.

What’s the point of playing small ball if you can buy a lineup that can slug its way to the postseason? Spending more money doesn’t by any means guarantee a World Series berth or even a postseason appearance, but the discrepancy between the big and small markets is staggering.

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The Royals and Pirates are two prime examples of the vicious money cycle in baseball. Both teams consistently kick it in the bottom five of lowest salaried teams in baseball and both teams struggle to stay relevant. The Pirates haven’t made the postseason since 1992, while Royal fans haven’t seen their team in the playoffs since 1985.

This has a snowball effect on teams. Fans won’t pack the stands to watch their team finish last. Merchandise sales drop and teams can’t muster the cash to hold their star players in the competitive free-agent market.

In the most basic sense, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Out of the last 12 World Series winners, six have been in the top 10 for highest payroll in their respective season and only one winner (2003 Marlins) have been on the lower half of the payroll. They won the Fall Classic with the 25th highest payroll that season, but were unable to hold all their pieces together and missed the postseason in 2004.

The flip side of the argument is that teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox are generating the money to make these moves. We as fans determine the market value of players and make it possible for teams to shell out deals like Albert Pujols’ 10-year, $240 million contract. Pujols is guaranteed $30 million in 2021, the last year of his deal. Last season, the Royals entire payroll was just over $36 million.

So even though some teams have been able to stay competitive with a low salary, it’s still unrealistic to expect teams to stay afloat when a player can make almost as much money in a year as an entire 40-man roster makes combined.

The Oakland Athletics are another great example of why the MLB needs a hard salary cap. They have consistently been able to make the postseason with one of baseball’s lowest payrolls. They have used advanced statistics and smart drafting to get the most out of their dollar.

In a sense, they have changed the game. Their style inspired the book and movie “Moneyball.” But with all the attention they have garnered, they still have the lowest attendance in all of major league baseball. They’re a team who has been in the same city since 1968 and have won four World Series and 15 pennants. But why then do they rank last in attendance?

It seems simple to me. The Athletics drafted and brought a plethora of stars into the league over the last decade: Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, to name a few. But as a fan, why would you want to pay to see these players who are no doubt going to big-market teams as soon as free agency hits? Teams like the Athletics can’t sell tickets because they can’t hold stars.

MLB needs to implement a concrete salary cap. It would make for better competition and would increase the fan base for teams who are forced to watch their stars walk during free agency. It’s time to make “America’s pastime” a sport again, not just a business.

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