It’s Time to End the Corruption of Baseball
Baseball used to be a simple game, associated with the smell of hot dogs, the sweet dew of the night air as fans rose for the seventh inning stretch, and the beautiful spectacle of the field with its freshly cut grass and newly chalked base lines. Now it seems like each game is won by at least five runs, the stadiums are half empty, and the pride of a baseball radio announcer, once an honorable career, has dwindled along with the game. Additionally, since 1976 players’ salaries have increased 168% a year, numbers too high to be blamed on inflation (Breton 4). These current conditions reflect the growing corruption of baseball.
Why is there corruption in baseball? It’s simple; players are asking for more money, which only big market teams can afford. If a player comes up through the league in a small market team and becomes a success, he demands more money, which the team can’t afford, so he moves to a big market team that will satisfy his demands. For example, look at Cincinnati Reds’ former players Bret Boone, Dimitri Young, Pokey Reese, Denny Neagle, Mike Cameron, and Jeff Shaw, all players of all-star caliber now playing for teams paying a bigger salary. This causes the problem of uncompetitive small market teams, who make up 44% of baseball (Player 1). With nearly half of the league being uncompetitive, it doesn’t make for a really surprising season.
This lack of competition snowballs into corrupting other parts of the game. There is a
steady decrease in attendance; the Cincinnati Reds total attendance for 2001 was about two million, a twenty four percent decrease from the 2000 season (Cincinnati 1). To make up for lagging attendance there is an increase in ticket prices as well; an average Cincinnati Reds ticket will rise from the 2001 season of $15.40 to $16.86, still below the league average, which will rise from $16.00 to $18.86 (Mann 1).
Despite such an obvious problem, there is little motivation for it to be solved. Most of the
people in power to solve the problem don’t want it solved. The owners of big market teams, e.g., George Steinbrener, winner of four World Series since the 1994 strike, are happy with the lack of competition (World 1). They can guarantee their teams will be winners every year, as long as there is no change in the current system. And if their team isn’t a winner, they have the bucks to buy up more of the league’s talent to become even more dominant. The baseball players’ union doesn’t want a change because the players’ salaries keep increasing (Fehr 1). The problem is the players have stopped caring about winning and only care about the size of their salaries.
The obvious options for solving this problem are team or player salary caps, or team profit sharing, which other sports have found successful. But if there is objection to change, the players can strike, as in 1994, then there will be no agreement for change, and the small market teams will...