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POLL: George Steinbrenner and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on July 13, 2010

Please vote below on whether you think George Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall of Fame.

So far today I have heard and read a lot of arguments in both directions. I'm not going to make an exhaustive list, but here are various thoughts I have:

  • By pouring so much money into his team, he's almost single-handedly responsible for the salaries we see in the game today. The Yankees are responsible for salary escalation more than any other team, and perhaps more than all other teams combined. However, I don't look at this as good or bad. That money ultimately comes from fans. Ticket prices are higher, yes, but fans continue to pay those prices in record numbers. Steinbrenner does not deserve blame for this, nor does he deserve blame for lack of parity in MLB today. Everything he has done as far as paying free agents has been well within the rules of the game. Please don't vote no because you are a fan of a small market team and you're jealous.
  • It's easy to forget that Steinbrenner was banned from baseball for a period of time. He committed some terrible actions. MLB decided that a temporary ban was the appropriate punishment. I think there's a basis for arguing that he should be banned from the HOF due to some of these crimes. (I'm not saying I agree with that--just that I can see why some folks might.)

Please vote and please, please add your comments on Steinbrenner below. I would really like this post to becoming a living document about Steinbrenner's career, both good and bad.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 10:52 am and is filed under Hall of Fame, Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

195 Responses to “POLL: George Steinbrenner and the Hall of Fame”

  1. I think the salary escalation is somewhat overblown. The market bears the pay players receive, owners who figured out ways to enhance and increase their revenue to enable the acquisition of prime talent understood the environment best. Far better to escalate salaries and build a profitable franchise that competes and wins than to leach off revenue sharing to make money with minimal regard to the quality of the team. I say yes, Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall. He was a polarizing and controversial figure, and his association with Howie Spira was a low-point of the franchise, but he changed the game significantly and gave the fans of his club hope every year. Tough to fault him for the latter and the former alone merits his inclusion.

  2. Well said Joe Tetreault. He WAS a polarizing figure. As a Met fan for since the late 60's I was amazed at the revolving door of managers and general managers (and while we are at it, coaches) in the Yankee organization. But he wanted to win, and ultimately did win, often. Which is the bottom line. Who would you rather have owning the team you root for, Steinbrenner or Jeffery Lorie (Marlins), or maybe the guys who own the Pirates? Steinbrenner would have figured out how to win no matter what city he was in. He figured out how best to work the system. I would vote him into the HOF at the soonest opportunity. Of course, I don't have a vote.

  3. Johnny Twisto Says:

    "Voting shall be based upon the individual's record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the game." Of course there are some positive things on Steinbrenner's ledger, but I am dismayed to see how strong his support is.

  4. Andy,

    The NO vote never had a chance today. I understand going in that this is an unscientific poll, but do you not agree that conducting this poll today as people are digesting the news of his passing and seeing non-stop ESPN coverage of his reign of terror (j/k) will tilt the results to the yes column?

    I voted no, but fully expect that in time he will be enshrined based on how the Veteran's committee has handled long tenured owners in the past. I'm in the minority on this subject, but I only believe on field talent (players, managers & coaches) should be enshrined. Other contributors (announcers, reporters, commissioners, owners, agents, stink'n labor lawyers) can have their history told in a room or two of the museum part of the HoF.

    Keep the polls coming. They tend to generate good conversation. Not every thread can last as many posts as the Morris HoF one, but they are almost all interesting.

  5. Matt Young Says:

    I sad moment for sure. He was a man of great strengths and great weaknesses --often the same quality was both a strength and weakness depending on how he was applying that quality at a given time. He was a business man for sure, but, as Andy mentions above, a man of passion, and a tremendous philanthropist that was always giving and never, and I mean never wanted his name attached to the giving. He also had a tremendous heart for people, particularly people with weaknesses and vices. He loved to help imperfect people like the Strawberry's, the Gooden's, the Steve Howe's and the Billy Martin's --maybe because he saw imperfections in himself? He was both ruthless and compassionate, which made him both loved and hated. He was infuriating and yet at times you couldn't help but admire him. He did much for the game, both good and bad...and yes, he crossed many lines. He is a HoFer for sure.

    Rest in peace Mr. Steinbrenner, rest in peace............

  6. Laergebill, the poll is what it is--what people think in the immediate aftermath. I actually think that unless new information comes to light, support for Steinbrenner will only increase over time. That's what usually happens--the sting of negative events tends to fade while positive sentiments tend to strengthen.

  7. I wonder if it is fair to run the poll today, the day that he died. It would be interesting to see if the results are different a month from now. - EDIT -Sorry, I didn't see the previous comments

  8. "Fair"? I don't understand that. It IS what it IS. This is how people feel today. How is that unfair?

  9. McGreevey1903 Says:

    Yes, on the condition that Marvin Miller also be elected to Hall of Fame.

  10. Is he the most successful owner in MLB history? Seven titles has to be the record, no?

  11. Largebill, part of your comment said : "I voted no, but fully expect that in time he will be enshrined based on how the Veteran's committee has handled long tenured owners in the past. I'm in the minority on this subject, but I only believe on field talent (players, managers & coaches) should be enshrined. Other contributors (announcers, reporters, commissioners, owners, agents, stink'n labor lawyers) can have their history told in a room or two of the museum part of the HoF."

    And its a good point. Do you allow executives and other contributors in the Hall? But they are allowed in the Hall. With Dreyfus, O'Malley, commissioners, league Presidents and (my personal all time bad guy) Charles Comminsky in the Hall, then the Boss belongs.

  12. WanderingWinder Says:

    It would be interesting to run the same poll again in, say, a year.

  13. Not sure the messages have gone through, but I am a Steinbrenner supporter all the way

  14. George Steinbrenner definitely belongs in the HOF. Without the Yankees and their salaries, without the yankees and their winning, without the yankees baseball would not be as successful as it is today. They pack in fans on the road, drawing the season high attendances in Los Angeles and many other parks. The Yankees are a villain for baseball and people love to cheer against them. Forget the fact that revenue sharing and other financial facets which benefit every single team in the game.

    George Steinbrenner is the greatest owner in the history of baseball and turned a 10 million dollar 2nd teir team into the best team in baseball worth well over a billion dollars. And he did it by turning team revenues back into the team, and wanting to win this year and every year. Teach that to too many owners who are pleased with their last place team turning a profit still.

  15. tarheelcoach Says:

    No way is he a hall of famer. HOFers have a tremendous positive impact on the game. Both times George went out on suspension, his team got significantly BETTER. He's a Hall of Famer because he spent a ton of money? I don't think so.

  16. There is no question George Steinbrenner belongs in the HOF. This man changed many aspects of baseball and was dedicated to building winning teams. Every player who earns a huge payday via free agency owes that to Mr. Steinbrenner.

    As another poster mentioned, Mr. Steinbrenner actually used revenue on his team, not to pad his bank account.

    The HOF needs to honor him at the upcoming induction ceremony.

  17. Well Anthony I think there is SOME question...otherwise there would be no point to this poll. :)

  18. Walter O'Malley would be the most comparable case - a man who transformed the game in ways that were both good and bad, depending on where you are standing. Marvin Miller, who is not in, would be another (or, in another sport, Al Davis). The Hall should mostly be about the history of the game, and I can't see it being that without Steinbrenner.

  19. FireChief35 Says:

    George Steinbrenner impacted the game like no other owner of his era.He absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame.His take no prisoners attitude inspired other owners to achieve results with their teams just to keep up with him.Many fans of teams other than the Yankees probably don't realize the debt they owe George Steinbrenner.

  20. If Steinbrenner is let in, then first must be Marvin Miller, not to mention Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Marge Schott, Jose Canseco, and all the other vaguely successful rule-strainers the game has known.

    Steinbrenner's time as owner advanced the game, sure, but at a high cost to its integrity. It took an owners' coup and top-drawer cronyism to overturn his lifetime ban, and his team was far better off when he was gone. How this is even a conversation is beyond me-- revisionist history is always perplexing.

  21. If there was a Hall of Fame for ruining baseball he would be the premiere member.
    His "let the small market teams suffer" philosophy made an already iffy sport much worse.

  22. Too soon to discuss this. Historically owners get inducted years later.

  23. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Rob #10, if you're measuring success by number of titles, Dan Topping and Del Webb owned the Yankees 1945-1964, when they won 10, and Col. Ruppert owned them 1915-1938, when they also won 7.

  24. "His team was far better off when he was gone."

    Yet they never won anything the years he was gone. Actually from 1990-1992, they were at their nadir. It was only because he was gone that the team focused on player development again and were able to rebuild. That's how they started winning again in the late '90's, and, of course, he was back to enjoy the benefits. runs both ways.

    "His 'let the small market teams suffer' philosophy made an already iffy sport much worse."

    Let me ask something of everyone: Do you believe that capitalism is the right economic system? If so, STOP WHINING ABOUT THE YANKEES' SPENDING. They play within the rules, they get taxed heavily for their spending and that money goes to the other teams. Then where does it go? Back into those teams or into the owner's pockets? MLB was forced to go from a "You play for me or no one else" reserve clause system to a modern free agency system. Steinbrenner took full advantage. It's not his fault that he figured out how to make more money and then be able to sign the best players. Also, need I point to the years 2002-2008 as an example that it doesn't always work?

    Steinbrenner was one of the most significant owners in all of sports history, not just baseball. He should be in the HOF because of it. But so should owners like Jacob Ruppert and Sam Breadon. As for Steinbrenner's suspensions? Of course, they're bad but the last time I looked there are other men of questionable character in the HOF as well. Don't start playing the sanctimonious integrity card now.

  25. DynastyNYY27 Says:

    I need to interject here....

    People are talking about Steinbrenner's "adverse actions" during his time in Baseball. He was suspended from baseball in the 90s for 2 years. Other than that, what NEGATIVE impact has he had on the game?

    The man literally, singlehandedly, revolutionized the business aspect of the game as we know it. Can you please let me know where that's a BAD thing for the sport? It's not his fault for the large contracts in the market today, that's all based on the player's performance and the economics of the game.

  26. STOP WHINING ABOUT THE YANKEES' SPENDING. They play within the rules

    Maybe the rules need to change.

  27. DynastyNYY27 Says:

    yeh dave....maybe the owners who arent spending a DIME of their revenue sharing should be forced to open their books to the rest of the league to see where exactly they ARE spending that money, if not to improve their club's competitive performance.

  28. "Yet they never won anything the years he was gone. Actually from 1990-1992, they were at their nadir."

    True; it takes some time for well-chosen drafts to become useful. In 1990, the Yankees picked up Mariano Rivera (and Bernie Williams began starting regularly). In 1991, they drafted, among others, Posada and Pettitte. In 1992, they drafted Jeter and more. Not until the old man had to reduce his involvement in 2005 or so did the Yankees begin making sound picks and trades.

    So, yes: 1009-92 were among their worst years, but the absence of Steinbrenner allowed the front office to make good baseball decisions instead of hotheadedly signing whatever overpaid "talent" came around.

  29. Maybe the rules need to change.

    But they don't.

  30. 1990-1992, sorry.

  31. The problem with salary inflation isn't necessarily that it puts "small market" teams at a disadvantage; many people argue quite justifiably that these teams could spend the money for big name free agents but instead sit on the money they make from not making big moves. The problem with salary inflation is that, as Andy originally wrote, the cost is ultimately paid by fans. That is, it's paid by wealthy fans. Yes, Yankee Stadium sells out every game, but have you seen the price of those tickets? I doubt too many people who actually live in the Bronx can afford more than the very occasional Yankees game anymore. Because players' huge salaries are increasing much faster than the average wage for those of us who don't make our living being very very good at a game, baseball is becoming gentrified. If we consider baseball to have some sort of an effect on the economy (granted, that effect is probably very little), current trends are, however minimally, increasing the standard of living in an unequal proportion, which ultimately pushes poor and middle class Americans behind. Steinbrunner's may have been an effective economic model, but if all businesses operated this way (and far too many do already) it would have an ultimately harmful effect on society.

  32. What are the criteria on which owners are generally elected? I think that is worthwhile to the conversation.

  33. As much as I think Steinbrenner did Winfield wrong, among other things... the man knew how to bring the glory back to an historic franchise.

  34. Steinbrenner's suspension was for something so far outside the ethics of baseball, it is hard to overlook. He tried to ruin a player's career.

  35. @30
    "The problem with salary inflation is that, as Andy originally wrote, the cost is ultimately paid by fans. That is, it's paid by wealthy fans. Yes, Yankee Stadium sells out every game, but have you seen the price of those tickets?"
    This is backwards. Revenues drive up salaries and not vice-versa.

    If you have a product, you're going to charge as much as you can get away with charging. The players could be playing for free and they'd still charge the same amount.

  36. It also might be germane to the conversation to ask how many other ex-cons have been voted into the Hall.

  37. I'm a lifelong Dodger fan, and I grew up hating Steinbrenner and the Yankees in the late 70's when they were beating my boys with all their high priced free agents. Having said that, over the years, I've grown to respect Mr. Steinbrenner. He was a visionary who understood the changing economics of the game better than anyone, and made it work spectacularly for his team. For all his bluster, I think he's one of the great owners of all time and belongs in the hall of fame.

  38. Since 1920 the longest streaks of the Yankees not making the post-season, and not winning the World Series both came entirely on Steinbrenner's watch.

    Many people in this thread have said that he greatly changed the game. But the only thing mentioned is his profligate spending on players. I think if you looked at history back to 1920 you would find that the Yankees almost always led in payroll, and that they were much more likely to have the highest single player salary with Ruth, DiMaggio, etc than under George. Baseball revenues have gone up tremendously since 1973, and salaries more or less proportionately, I have seen no evidence that he should be given great credit for this.

    The longer he was greatly involved in team operations the worse they did. When he finally became a hands
    off owner after 1992 the team did much better. The flamboyant early Steinbrenner is the one we remember, not the less involved, but much more successful later version.

    His HoF case is almost entirely because he was very famous, not because he was very successful or original.

  39. I'll just throw out one other thing he was responsible for...starting a TV network dedicated entirely to a baseball team (YES).

  40. Steinbrenner has done more than anyone else in baseball history to ruin baseball. Baseball is a sport, not a business. Baseball teams have no competition, if you are a fan of one team you arent going to switch because some other team offers a better product. Because of childish need to win and to buy all the best players every chance he gets his team is guaranteed to be in contention every year whereas other teams have to draft well and put it all together in the 3 year window when they have their young core together. The single worst aspect of baseball today is free agency and he is most responsible for the rediculous conditions we have today where 5 teams are guaranteed to make the playoffs at least 7 of every 10 years and the rest of teams have to get lucky to draft a bunch of prospects at the same time in order to make the playoffs a few years in a row.

  41. Mike, your comment totally blows me away. I wonder how many people think MLB is a game and not a business. I guess if you insist it's a game, then free agency really would look terrible. But--wow. To me it's 100% business.

  42. "I'll just throw out one other thing he was responsible for...starting a TV network dedicated entirely to a baseball team (YES)."

    ...which he lifted from the older model previously established by NESN, the Red Sox and Bruins' network. YES was launched in 2002; NESN has been around since 1984.

    Oh, and YES was started by a joint venture of the Yankees and the Nets; if it is "dedicated entirely" to the Yankees, it's because the Nets backed out and Goldman Sachs have had to sell their stake, but I think the network still shows other sports than just Yankees games.

  43. Actually, Andy, baseball is a game. Major League Baseball, the organization encompassing the American And National Leagues and all of the franchises involved in them, is a business.

  44. David:

    Yes, initially it is revenue that drives salaries up... but winning a ton of championships is what originally drove revenue up in the first place--you had a really successful teams that a lot of people with reasonable incomes would come out to watch. When you flip that revenue for huge salaries, you have to start demanding more revenue from those same sources in order to make the same profit, so you start to extract more from those people than you originally were, hence gentrifying baseball.

  45. I would be interested in seeing what a poll like this would result in say, three months from now.

  46. You can talk all you want about how his methods changed the game, but in the end, did they change the game for the better?

    I might argue that the salary escalation, resulting in an ever-greater gap between the haves and have-nots, did not actually improve the game. They simply made his team better, and forced almost everyone else into a state of near-economic ruin to try to keep up.

    I think that, if you are going to use the "changed the game" argument, it should be to the betterment of the game.

    Free agency was an important benchmark in the history of labor-management relations. It was needed, to make salary negotiations fair for both sides. The players had to have a bargaining chip to counter the owners' previously-held rights.

    Players needed to have the right to move on to another club, after a contract expired.

    However, Steinbrenner quickly seized on his fortune and revenue stream to bludgeon the rest of the owners, creating for himself an heavily-unbalanced playing field.

    I won't agrue that he didn't have the right to do so, but did he actually make the game better by doing it?

    Was it in the best interests of baseball, or just his own?

  47. According to Congress baseball is a sport and NOT a business which is why they are exempt from anti-trust laws...because there is no competition in the industry it should not be treated like a regular industry where competition exists. Also, clearly free agency is horrible and should not exist in any form unless a team decides to cut a player. Players should just be able to get salary arbitration every year of their career and teams would be able contend EQUALLY based on smart drafting and trading.

  48. Johnny Twisto Says:

    You can't extract more money from people who don't want to pay it. The Yankees raised their prices every year and the attendance kept going up.

    I sort of think that the goal of getting every last dollar will backfire eventually, because the next generation of fans isn't being developed in the same way. But I'm no businessman, what do I know? Tickets prices are simple supply and demand.

    I preferred the early '90s, when I could go to a game on no notice and get decent seats. In recent years, games are as likely to sell out as not, so I don't even bother heading to the park to get a ticket. They're mostly too expensive anyway.

    Stop letting corporations write off season tickets as a business expense and you'll see the prices come back down (slightly).

  49. @23 Pat D - great post and well said.

    I voted Yes to Steinbrenner making the HOF and I would have 100% said that before today's turn of events.

  50. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mike, are you being facetious? If you think free agency is horrible, you only care about yourself as a fan, and not about the players. Human beings have the right to some say over where they work. Especially, one would think, in the USA. To foster competition as well as rooting interests, of course there needs to be some way to allow teams to keep players more than a year (as there is), but for a player to be controlled by the team that drafted him until he retires is simply unjust.

  51. Mike,

    I disagree with what you said, regarding free agency.

    A contract is a binding agreement between two parties, governing services, reimbursements, and a specific length of said terms. It is law.

    After that contract expires, both sides have an equal right to move on, together (through a new agreement), or separately. That's the way it is in the business world; it should be no different for the business of baseball.

    Arbitration is fine, but both sides need to agree to it.

    Players should not be bound to one team -- with no right to move on after the terms of their service are expired -- if that is what they choose.

  52. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's hard to develop an economic system that balances the needs and rights of players, teams, and fans.

  53. Anyone who thinks that George Steinbrenner is responsible for high ticket prices is living in a dream world. Owners will always try to maximize revenue and charge the highest ticket prices that the market will accept.

    When George took over the Yankees they were a losing franchise. He returned them to their pre-CBS winning tradition. No owner is better known -- loved, hated, whatever. For being the most notable owner in sports he clearly deserves to be in the hall of fame.

    However I'm not sure about his chances because of jealousy. The Yankees have been subsidizing the rest of baseball for years via the luxury tax and it is human nature to resent the person who is supporting you and still manages to win often.

    The issue of George's conviction related to his political activities should have no bearing on the hall of fame vote. I'm not excusing the crime but Mr. Steinbrenner paid his penalties and the crime was totally unrelated to baseball. Should this mistake disqualify Mr Steinbrenner then a criminal conviction should automatically disqualify every nominee and any hall member with a criminal conviction should be removed.

  54. @49 Johnny Twisto - your point about the ealy 90s and being able to go to a game on no notice and get decent seats strikes a chord with me. I'm a Yankees fan that has been going to games since I was a kid in the 80s. The Yankees mostly stunk then...but I always liked being able to get tickets whenever (and I went to a lot of games). Now they're great and that's mostly impossible. I have to get pretty much all my tickets before the season even begins (and forget about getting "good" seats). I'm not complaining, as I would rather have the Yanks win than lose...but I do look back fondly on the ticketing aspect of going to games then vs. now.

  55. @43
    That's not how pricing works. Why wouldn't a team keep raising ticket prices as long as people were still buying them? It wouldn't matter if A-Rod made $30M, $3M or $3.

    New York City has an enormous population base, many of whom are extremely affluent. Its also the home of the headquarters of many of the countries largest corporations. So, many of the luxury boxes and season tickets are bought by corporations for business-entertainment purposes. The stadium only has 50,000 seats, fewer than in the previous stadium. That's why tickets are high. Its got nothing to do with salaries.

  56. sorry I meant @46 Johnny Twisto in my above post.

    Also, @45 Mike - you wrote "Also, clearly free agency is horrible and should not exist in any form unless a team decides to cut a player. Players should just be able to get salary arbitration every year of their career and teams would be able contend EQUALLY based on smart drafting and trading."

    I also have to ask as others have...are you being serious?

  57. robert irwin Says:

    I reluctantly conclude that most "great men" have their too-human failings. This was all too true of "The Boss," but there is no denying he was a great man. He knew what he wanted and got it. His tenure as Yankees owner included one of the three-best core teams ever. Thanks for everything, Boss!

  58. Why do the players need rights? No one has a right to play major league baseball. The rules of the sport should be set up to promote equal competition between all teams because that is what is best for the FANS, which should be the first concern of the league. If the players dont like the way the rules are set up then they can work at McDonalds or whatever else they want with whatever skills they have that actually contribute to society. We are not talking about coal miners in 1880 here who have a 5% chance of dieing every day they go to work for 14 hours for $1.

    Why should the league be setup for what is best for the players, they are just lucky to be in the top .00001% of society in terms of athletic ability so they get to play a game for 15 years and then do whatever they want the rest of their lives. Spare me the arguement that they should be able to play wherever they want, all they do in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE is just sign with the team that pays them the most money.

    Also, stop with the legal defintions about contracts, as ruled by congress, baseball is not a business, its a sport. You cannot draw comparisons between your contract with your employer and A-Rod's contract with the Mariners. Baseball should be different than the real world because it is, in the real world any company can offer you a contract...except for the same job you will get about the same deal. If your job happens to be major league starting pitcher you will get offered 1 contract that is 70% more than another for the same job.

    Now if there was a salary cap then teams could decide to overpay if they thought you were worth it...but it should HURT them somewhere else and allow them to not overpay in another area. Unfortunetly, for a handfull of teams they can overpay for all positions and it will never hurt them and for the rest if they overpay in one area its hurts them in all others.

  59. Matt Young Says:

    "Yes, initially it is revenue that drives salaries up... but winning a ton of championships is what originally drove revenue up in the first place--you had a really successful teams that a lot of people with reasonable incomes would come out to watch. When you flip that revenue for huge salaries, you have to start demanding more revenue from those same sources in order to make the same profit, so you start to extract more from those people than you originally were, hence gentrifying baseball".

    And the same could be said about society today.

    Also, The Boss' legal issues also involved baseball and Howard Spira/Dave Winfield. He was no angel, and he took advantage of the economic system that was in place, much like people still take advantage of the today's economic system. The gulf between the haves and have-nots has only increased in both baseball and society. Greed is not a good thing either way you slice it or dice it. It hasn't been good for baseball and it isn't good for today's society in the US of A. Profit sharing has helped, but baseball could be in trouble in another 20-30 years when it doesn't have as many fans that remember its rich history. Capitalism is a double-edged sword with good and bad....perhaps the bad is starting to outweigh the good.

  60. Mike, just curious, but do you not agree with basic capitalism? I'm saying you're right or wrong, just curious.

  61. Matt Young Says:

    It is a game, but in reality it's a business. The fact that it is a game use to matter, just like people use to matter. To a business they could care less about you as a person, just like baseball doesn't really care that much about the fans......other than what they can extract from them. It's all about the dollar now no matter where you look or go.

  62. In my opinion, salary escalation is In my opinion, salary escalation is not the problem that Steinbrenner (and to be fair, others) caused. And it isn’t that he wanted to “buy” big name free agents. The problem became when only the Yankees and a few select other franchises are able to compete for the best players in the game. When was the last time a big name free agent was rumored to be headed to Pittsburgh or Cincinnati or Cleveland? It’s not that those teams can’t afford to pay the salary requirements of the best free agents, or that they can’t afford to pay a large contract. It is that these franchises cannot afford to pay enough good players to make them competitive on a regular basis. Of course, the players know this. It doesn’t matter how many good young players Pittsburgh develops, when they become elegible for free agency, they will look around and say “Well, the Pirates can pay the $16M a year for my contract, but then they won’t be able to afford the $14M for our SS who will be a free agent next year and the $13M for the two pitchers who will FA’s the year after that and in three years it will be me and a bunch of 23 year olds again and we’ll be 70-92. I think I’ll take the money from the Yanks (or the Bosox or the Cubs) and have a chance to win a championship.”
    It’s a problem that doesn’t get discussed or solutions discovered in a sound bite, but it is something that will be a significant contributor to the decline in constituents for MLB. The sport is largely irrelevant to people under the age of 20-25 in many cities now and isn’t taking steps to reach those people. As a fan, you need to have at least the hope your team will contend – and not just for a year. You need to know if your owner and GM and player development folks are doing their jobs and put together a core of good players that your team can be competitive for a period of a few years. That isn’t possible for many markets now.
    I don’t attribute all of this to Steinbrenner, but he certainly represents the attitude that all of the franchises are on their own. Compare it to the NFL, where Wellington Mara recognized that free agency was going to not only be a good thing, but also be a serious threat to competitive balance. He understood that the Giants could dominate the free agent market, but instead took a leadership role in developing a system that allows Jacksonville or Green Bay to compete with New York and Chicago. In doing so, the NFL has captured huge numbers of young fans in every market – partly because they have hope. I wonder what the baseball world would look like like if Steinbrenner had followed Mara’s lead in the 70’s and 80’s.

  63. I fully, fully support capitalism completely and it the clearly the best system for a society.

    However, students of capitalism will note that one the main tennants is that all entities need to be able to compete in the same market EQUALLY. This is why anti-trust laws exist. This is NOT the case in baseball, one "company" can afford to outspend others by many factors just because their team is located in a city with more people. Essentially, the Yankees have a natural monopoly over the city of New York, which is not fair. If Congress had ruled baseball was a business instead of sport then NY would have been broken up into 4-5 teams because that is what they could actually support. Instead, they are allowed to have their monopoly which gives them unfair advantage which would not be allowed in pure capitalism.

  64. Except they don't have a true monopoly because of the Mets. An oligopoly, sure, but not a true monopoly.

  65. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Why do the players need rights?

    Wow. I've been warned about my language before, so I shall refrain from saying what this comment obviously shows you to be.

    I will just comment that if you prefer an inferior quality of baseball, your proposals are a good start.

  66. Even in the capitalist system (some) basic rules and standards need to be in place. There are laws that govern what big business can and can't do.

    The near-meltdown of the world financial system shows what happens when you have a more unfettered system. Checks and balances need to be in place, to ensure that the system actually works for the betterment of society.

    Enough of that.

    Sandlot baseball (or softball) is a sport. Major League Baseball is a business.

    Heck, even Little League is a business, at the organizational level.

    And contracts are contracts, at whatever level they are agreed to. I'm a Mariners fan, and I wished there had been some way to keep A-Rod there at the time (I've since revised my thinking).

    But he had the right to move on. The terms of his employment as a member of the Mariners' franchise had expired, pure and simple. It would be wrong for the team to hold that right in perpetuity.

    Each team is a separate business entity, operating under the umbrella of Major League Baseball. Highly-detailed agreements have been reached, governing the rights and status of players and their employers. Contract law is what it is, whether you -- as the fan -- like it or not.

    Whether MLB should be exempt from Anti-Trust (I disagree there, and believe that their exemption should be removed), it is a business. Once it started promoting itself for profit (as a business), the rules changed.

    And that was a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong time ago.

  67. Matt Young Says:

    Just for the record, George was originally against free agency for the same reasons Wellington Mara was, a fact that often does not get noted. When he realized it was going to go through because the players wanted it, he quickly adjusted so he could take full advantage....and he did, often in a ruthless way.

    Also, I would argue that a strong democracy is the best system for society. The question is, is democracy starting to be threatened by capitalism. The Citizens United Case certainly makes one wonder.

  68. Matt Young Says:

    Additionally, there was another interesting Legal case this past year in sports --baseball enjoys basically a legal monopoly that the other sports do not....and the other sports have salary caps.

    Excerpt below.

    NFL Antitrust Case: Huge Blow to Professional Football, or Much Ado About Nothing?

    If you’re a football fan, like me, you’ve probably heard about the recent antitrust case in which the NFL suffered a big loss. For those that haven’t heard, here’s the story in a nutshell. For years, NFL teams have jointly licensed their trademarks for use on products like t-shirts, baseball caps, mugs, etc through a company called National Football League Properties (NFLP). About ten years ago, the NFLP decided that only Reebok could make headwear bearing NFL logos. As a result, American Needle, Inc., a competitor of Reebok, lost its contract with NFLP. Faced with the loss of a tremendous revenue source, American Needle did what any proud American would do: it sued, claiming the NFLP was acting improperly as a monopoly and not allowing competition in the NFL headwear business. On May 24, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that American Needle could proceed with its lawsuit.
    You’ve probably seen articles (using countless bad football puns — “NFL Sacked by Supreme Court” — which we here at Law Law Land would obviously be totally above using) touting this as a big setback not only for the NFL, but for all professional sports leagues (other than Major League Baseball, which, amazingly, is a legal monopoly).

  69. Based on 2005 (
    Yankees current value: $1,026M
    Mets current value: $604M
    Total NY teams value: $1,630M
    Average value over all teams: $377M
    Amount of teams NY could support: 1630/377 = 4.3, assuming 4 teams at league average value.

    5 NY teams would each have: 1632/5 = $326M value, ranking above 13 teams!

    So NY should have 4-5 teams or the league should be reduced to about 8 teams with 1 in NY, a few more on the east coast, a few in the midwest/south and a few on the west coast.

  70. Matt Young,

    I agree.

    It is largely in how we exercise out democratic rights that we can determine to what degree Capitalism dominates society.

    Who you vote for -- and their willingness to ensure there are proper reins on businesses -- will determine whether you work for a benevolent boss, or another Simon LeGree.

    A loosening of the rules that were put in place to prevent another Great Depression are why we are now fighting to avoid falling into another one now.

    Democracy gives us the right to stand up to the Capitalists, when their reach exceeds what is best for society, as a whole.

  71. He should never be admitted to the hall of fame as an inductee. He was not a good baseball man, he never built a winner he only bought them, and too many times he made sure he was the focal point of his organization and all of Baseball. Does 20 managers in 23 years sound like a hall of fame baseball owner?

  72. I will just comment that if you prefer an inferior quality of baseball, your proposals are a good start.


    Please elaborate on how having only a few teams being able to go the playoffs every year and rest struggling to put together a decent 5 year run is better for the game?

  73. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Response to #39; 45; 56 - You've GOT TO BE KIDDING - I realize that a lot of people in the 80s and 90s wanted to "turn the clock" back to the pre-free agency days of the reserve clause, but this is 2010, and I thought people now understand that baseball players have the same basic labor rights as the rest of the population, contrary to what the ownwers would've liked the public to believe.

    A) BASBALL: SPORT or BUSINESS?? To me, this seems like a false dichotomy - why can't it be BOTH, at the same time? Baseball has been a business ever since people started enclosing playing fields to allow only paying customers to watch games, which was back in the sixties - the 1860's. If baseball weren't a viable BUSINESS, it wouldn't have survived and flourished till the present. But is major-league baseball a SPORT? - yes, because if people weren't entertained by it, they wouldn't be willing to spend their money to watch the game.

    I know the Supreme Court ruling you are referring to. This is the result of a player for the 1915 Baltimore Terrapins (of the defunct Federal League)trying to obtain his freedom to negotiate with any club. The judges, buying into the fairy tale of baseball as "fathers playing catch with their sons on pastoral fields", refused to declare major league baseball as interstate commerce. This decision was wrong then, and is wrong now. Baseball should have no anti-trust exemption.

    B) FREE AGENCY - The "reserve clause", which allowed baseball owners to renew contracts in perpetuity, was in violation of basic labor laws. That it was allowed to stand for so many decades, is a reflection of the longtime weakness of the player's union. I find this paternalistic depiction of players, as a bunch of high school drop-outs not qualified to do anything but dig ditches, highly offensive - baseball players are similar to any group of diverse employees, and deserving of the protection of this country's labor laws. They generate enormous revenues for their employeers, and are entitled to their fair share.

    Charlie Finley said c. 1975 that the best strategy against the fall of the reserve clause would be to release ALL the players from their contracts, to depress the market, with all players available at once. However, the owners were greedy and refused to make any concessions; out of this developed the system of arbitration and six-year free agency.

  74. Mrose833,

    Good point, about Steinbrenner's baseball accumen.

    Look at the Yankees, from 1981-'93. He who spends the most money does not necessarity do so wisely.

    Oops. I forgot. That was just what his "baseball people" were telling him to do.

  75. I love how New York fans always talk about the players get what the market will give them and never mention how somebody has to set the "market price". I have always been against a team salary cap but an individual player cap would be a good thing for baseball in my opinion.

  76. I am not trying to argue that baseball is not business, I am trying to explain why it should NOT be a business. I have no idea why anyone would support a system that is best for the players compared to a system that is best for the fans???

    People, please wake up and get in touch with reality, all this stuff about how players should have the same rights as everyone else is rediculous. The system should be set up that players can choose to make millions of dollars to entertain the fans of the team that drafted them or quit and go get another job. Im sure many of them are not idiots and would have fine careers in many other fields, and if they dont like that only the team that drafted them can pay them millions of dollars then be my guest go suceed somehwere else.

    I guess it comes down to me thinking the following quote from Patrick Ewing makes me want to punch him in the face whereas others think good for him.
    "Sure NBA players make a lot of money, but we spend a lot too."

  77. @74 Mike - all I can say

  78. Mike,

    As long as money changes hands, it will be a business.

    I know I'm not arguing players vs. fans. I'm arguing players vs. the owners. I'd love to see a salary cap, but it has to be agreed-upon by both sides in order to work.

    The Ewings, Sprewells, and the rest can all go jump off a cliff, for all I care. But what good is it, if the Steinbrenners and all their ilk just keep to padding their banks accounts, because of a depressed salary structure?

    What both sides need to do is show a little responsibility, for all the great power they have been handed by the fans.

    Prices will not come down, just because the owners are paying out less. The owners (and their business breathen in the corporate boxes) know they can get what they want at the level they're at right now, so why cut prices? Their hooks are into us, and we have evidently not yet reached to point of mass rebellion.

    Offering a little good faith would be a nice place to start...

  79. Actually, I will say more than just "wow". I have no idea what you do for a living...but let's just say you are a teacher. I don't think you are based on your comments but who knows?

    So you finish all your schooling to become certified as a teacher. And North Dakota State says you are going to be a professor at their school. Never mind the fact that you are from Boston (I don't know if you're from there; again, this is just a 'what if') and always wanted to teach at Yale or Harvard. You never wanted to be involved with North Dakota State. But you have to teach their your entire teaching career. If you don't like that, well, you can quit and disregard all your schooling & everything that built you up to that point...and go get a job in another profession. How would you like that?

    Because that's basically what your saying baseball players should be willing to accept.

  80. oops on the "your" typo above (I'm NOT a teacher) :)

  81. Im still waiting for anyone to lay out some good arguements on why free agency without a salary cap is good for the fans of ALL teams, not just the Yankees.

  82. and the typo on "their"...I guess I should proofread before hitting Submit :)

  83. Mike - any response for the scenario in my post @77?

  84. @77 wow...not even close comparison.

    First of all, I already said that baseball should be setup for what is best for the FANS, and the real world should use capitalism where people try to do things in their best interest. Baseball players should be willing to accept things that other people do not have to accept because they will be paid millions of dollars for it so there are some tradeoffs involved. Even if I wanted to work at Harvard but ND St decided to pay me $10 Mil/year to teach there I would not have much to complain about.

    Also, as I previously said...players do not go and sign with their home team that they have always dreamed of playing for since they were kids...THEY SIGN WITH THE TEAM THAT OFFERS THEM THE MOST MONEY.

  85. It isn't strictly capitalism. The Yankees just want to win games, they don't want to put their opponents out of business or they'd have to drop games from their schedule.

    Its a "league". Because of that, there needs be some amount of revenue sharing. Its a delicate balance though as the league wants its teams to be trying to league for more revenue sources and the competitive advantage that high-revenue brings is a good motivator for that. Too much revenue sharing takes away that thirst for revenue. That said, the league needs to be realistic about the lower-revenue teams. Its not good for baseball if they're all ostensibly the "washington generals".

    So, I'm all for capitalism, but people need to keep an eye out to make sure revenue disparities don't get too large.

  86. @82 Mike - so by your logic, then anyone who is paid millions of dollars should be willing to accept a system with no rights?

    Or is it only baseball players that have to abide by this "no rights system"? Because everything else in capitalism is fine...except baseball?

    Where do you distinguish other professions from "the real world"? Is it only sports? Other items as well? Actors can potentially be paid millions of dollars...they entertain for fans...should they have to go act for one certain acting troupe because of that?

    Oh and as for your point that for baseball players "all they do in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE is just sign with the team that pays them the most money", what about a guy like Joe Mauer? He undoubtedly would have gotten more money than he received from the Twins, had he chosen to go to free agency after this season is over. Or what about the high-profile example of LeBron James, who signed for less money to go to Miami than he would have earned in Cleveland? Or do only MLB players have the EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE badge for going for money (then again, what about Joe Mauer)?

  87. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mike, I don't have time right now to get into all the many facets of baseball economics. But if you set up a system in which players are bound to one team in perpetuity, the profession becomes less desirable. If it is less desirable, it attracts less skilled players. This is what I meant when I said the quality of play would diminish. This would not happen overnight, but it would happen.

  88. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Or is it only baseball players that have to abide by this "no rights system"? Because everything else in capitalism is fine...except baseball?

    Jeez Dave V, where have you been? Don't you know things only matter when it's baseball? Only in baseball do teams have "no chance" to compete. Only in baseball are steroids "ruining" the game.

  89. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #82: "Baseball players should be willing to accept things that other people do not have to accept because they will be paid millions of dollars for it so there are some tradeoffs involved.:

    Mike, I don't know what fantasy world you live, but this is simply NOT TRUE. Most baseball players who sign a contract, never come close to making millions of dollars:
    1) only 2% of the players in the minor leagues ever GET to the major leagues
    2) most of the players that DO get to the majors, never play regularly
    3) many of the players that DO play regularly, never accumulate enough service time to become free agents
    4) the majority of free agents DO NOT get multi-million dollar contracts
    THEREFORE... only a very small fraction of O_N_E P_E_R_C_E_N_T of baseball players that sign a contract ever make "millions of dollars". This is no different than many professions; most make a living, and the very very best make huge salaries.

    I realize you say: this is what you would LIKE the SITUATION TO BE, but it's never going to happen. Unicorns do not exist, dodo birds are extinct, and professional athletes are not going to roll back the clock and give up their labor rights, as much as you'd like them to.

  90. @84, did you not read the first line of my earlier post.
    "I already said that baseball should be setup for what is best for the FANS, and the real world should use capitalism where people try to do things in their best interest."

    So, no, not by my logic should anyone who is paid millions of have to be willing to accept a system "without rights." And please stop acting like baseball players would be treated like Soviet prisoners without right if there was no free agency.

    Actors get paid millions of dollars to be in films that people are willing to pay for, but in reality people do not have favorite or home town movie companies that they support. Its not as if people from NY only will see movies produced by Disney and people from Chicago will only see movies produced by Paramount or whatever.

    And to Mauer, HE WAS NOT A FREE AGENT. He signed a contract extension for $184M dollars which will pay him $23M/year for 8 years. That is a lot of cash and he decided it was enough that it wasnt worth risking playing out his current contract and riskng injury and making less on the open market.

    And for the love of god dont get me started on LeBron James, anyone who is naive enough to believe he went to Miami for "less money" is crazy. He will clearly be making far more money off the court and he knows that his collusion with the other 2 top FAs will lead to titles which will increase his global marketability and overall net worth.

    "In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I'll be the richest man in the world. That's one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire" - LeBron James.

  91. People, I think everyone just needs to stop responding to Mike, he's clearly enjoying the attention. I think everyone else understands that he's just being ridiculous.

    Anyway ...

    People have to understand that there are haves and have-nots in every sport, and there always have been. George Steinbrenner / the Yankees are not to blame for this. He / they just take advantage of their position, but honestly, if they didn't, people would criticize them for not doing that.

    Steinbrenner certainly had an abrasive personality, and made a lot of mistakes - his management of the franchise during the 1980's was comical. But he grew with time, and I think that if he was the owner of , you'd love him. He was as passionate as any owner about doing whatever he could to put a winning product on the field.

    It certainly is a tough week for the Yankee family, with two legends leaving them in the span of a few days.

  92. Sorry, meant to say 'if he was the owner of your favorite team, you'd love him'. Darn HTML ...

  93. @87
    1) Im not talking about this, it has nothing to do with the disparity between the Yankees and Pirates
    2) Same
    3) Same
    4) Dead wrong. FAs signed after 2009 season to major league contracts(

    123 Total, average total money over all years = $6.998 Million
    Number of players who signed ML contracts for less than $1 M = 21 out fo 123. These were all only 1 year contracts and these players are almost all in their 30s and already have accumulated millions in their career.

    I am just saying my opinion on how the game should be, I never claimed I thought it would happen tomorrow so please stop with the petty unicorn comments. There is nothing preventing the fans from going on strike however...something which may happen in the distant future when only the 1% richest fans can go to games.

  94. @89, please explain why having free agency without a salary cap is the best system?

  95. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #91: "4) Dead wrong. FAs signed after 2009 season to major league contracts(
    123 Total, average total money over all years = $6.998 Million
    Number of players who signed ML contracts for less than $1 M = 21 out fo 123. These were all only 1 year contracts and these players are almost all in their 30s and already have accumulated millions in their career."

    Mike, you said MILLIONS, which is more than two; this would be a whole lot more than 21 out of 123. As for #1-#3, my basic point is, just because someone is a professional baseball player, it DOES NOT mean they are going to make millions of dollars. If you do not understand that, I give up.

  96. Matt Young Says:

    In a perfect world It should be more about the fans (I think Mike is saying this), and yes, the players should also be free to move arouind, but I agree, some sort of cap should be in place... probably a soft cap.

  97. Thank you 94, the system's primary concern should be fan enjoyment, not to maximize the players income. THe ideal system would be a salary cap with free agency where any team can pay any player whatever they want, but if they overpay it should prevent them from signing other players. A team should never be able to sign the 3 FAs in 1 off season, or if they do it should cripple them in the future.

    The very first line of this blog:
    "By pouring so much money into his team, he's almost single-handedly responsible for the salaries we see in the game today. The Yankees are responsible for salary escalation more than any other team, and perhaps more than all other teams combined"

    The author then says this is neither good or bad and I am just trying to argue why it is bad.

    Ok I have a softball game to go to, Ill try to check back later and see if anyone posted some reasons why free agency without a salary cap is the best system for all involved instead of just the Yankees.

    Go NL tonight and prayers go out to the Steinbrenner family.

  98. Mike-

    You basically want the players to be highly compensated slaves for the fans. What if the fans want them to stand on their heads between innings? What if the fans want them to wear clown make-up? Should they do that? I'd personally love to see Jeter play SS in a skirt. Not just because it would look funny, but I think the little twirl on it would be just fantastic when he does one of his patented jump-throws. Naturally, it'd have to be a ruffled skirt, which might offend the sensibilities of some in the crowd who think that a man of his age should not be in something so youthful, but let's just hope my ticket was more expensive than theirs, thereby entitling me to more say over the players.

    You claim that baseball functions differently than other industries. But it doesn't. Fans are consumers. Owners are, well, owners. There is actually an interesting debate as to whether players are the employees or the product itself (as opposed to some nebulous abstract like "the game"). Ya know, my favorite restaurant may suffer if the chef is allowed to leave for another restaurant 8 states away. So should he be chained to the stove?

  99. Mike-

    Name me a single industry in which, at the end of the day, consumer happiness is the bottom line. Try me. I got all day/night.

  100. Matt Young Says:

    Again guys, he's talking in perfect world terms and didn't necessarily do that in the best way. I think we all can agree that it be nice if the game was a bit more for the fans, had a salary cap, but also gave the players the flexibility to move around. Of course there's no such industry where happiness is the bottom line, but I could argue that it should at least be part of the equation more than it is today.

  101. No, he was NOT singlehandedly responsible for escalated salaries. The Expos offered Reggie Jackson $5M for 5 years but Reggie did not want to live outside the U.S. Players' union rep Marvin Miller is more responsible if anything because he won free agency for the players, but who among us hasn't tried to get more money? What Big Stein did was spend money on the RIGHT players (except for the '80s). No one put a gun to the head of the Royals' owner to give $11M a year to Gil Meche or the Rockies' guy for giving those ill-fated huge contracts to Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. As Steinbrenner liked to quote General Patton, the owners should "lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way," the last one if they don't want to compete. Thank God for George who wanted to win and for his sons who continue that Yankees tradition in their own style. R.I.P. George M. Steinbrenner III. You will be missed.

  102. Mike,

    No, George was not responsible for creating free agency; he was merely responsible for hyper-escalating it, and nearly driving a number of teams into bankruptcy.

    Or, were the other owners supposed to say, "No, you just go ahead and win 'em all..."

    You say that George spent money on the RIGHT guys, except for the 1980's, which is like six good years (1976-'81), followed by nine bad ones.

    Don't forget to add '91-'93 onto that. 1981-'93 is the longest uninterrupted string of non-Yankee postseasons since before the Babe Ruth Era. I'll let '94 pass, since there was no postseason, and New York was in first place when the lockout took place.

    But that's part of George's legacy, too.

    By that time, though, they had also started to invest more in the farm system. There was the rash of steroid-aided free agents (Clemens, Canseco, Giambi, allegedly also including Justice and Sheffield, and well-know drug abusers Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry) too.

    Of course, George was also supposedly not as involved by that time.

    You can't take just the good, and ignore all the bad. If everyone had followed Steinbrenner's lead, the game might have met its financial Waterloo decades years ago.

    Maybe it took some (relative) fiscal sanity on the part of others to hold it all together, in spite of King George.

  103. oops.

    I said "Mike", instead of "Nick" on that last one.

    Sorry, Mike.

  104. Completely serious question: everyone keeps saying "he changed so much about the game", what exactly did he change? The only thing I can think of is the way owners spend money, but that's apparently up for heavy debate, and arguably has been going on since the beginning of baseball.

    It seems to me there's too many people arguing that:
    1. Steinbrenner changed the way the economics of the game work for the better and
    2. All the bad things about the economics of the game happened on their own and he merely used the system he was given

    So which is it? Did he create the era, define the era or live as a product of the era?

  105. Matt Young Says:

    Some of both I'd say with shades of gray.

    Just for the record, George was originally against free agency for the same reasons Wellington Mara was, a fact that often does not get noted. When he realized it was going to go through because the players wanted it, he quickly adjusted so he could take full advantage....and he did, often in a ruthless way.

  106. 50 year old Met fan here. In the late 1960's and early 1970's the Yankees were has-beens, an old beaten down team with a glorious history and dismal future. Best thing you can say about the team was "Horace Clarke." Then the Yanks were sold to a "Cleveland shipbuilder" -- a term repeated as nauseum by the NY tabloids. The rest is history. As a Met fan, I "hated" the Cleveland shipbuilder because his business acumen, sheer grit, and money allowed him to re-build a storied franchise and--with the exception of a few years in the mid 80s -- make NY a Yankee town. He belongs in the HOF. One can argue about his broader legacy with respect to "the game" but he changed the Yanks and energized NY and that should be sufficient.

  107. I feel reluctant allowing a felon from the Nixon era from entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. He nearly tried to ruin many a Yankee who crossed him like Jim Beattie and Dave Winfield. I know he may belong, but I wouldn't vote for him.

  108. #96 BSK - thanks for making me LOL at the idea of Jeter twirling in a skirt
    #99 Nick - You're right. Steinbrenner is just the one who was in a position to take advantage of the free agency system that got set up.
    #100 JeffW - That's not really fair--Steinbrenner took the fullest advantage of the system. You can't blame him for that, no matter how unbalanced things were.

  109. @97, Im not sure how many times I have to say this but BASEBALL IS NOT AN INDUSTRY. It does not operate within the rules of capitalism and there are no camparisons between baseball and any other industry in society. If baseball was an industry, there would be 5 teams in NY because that is the number of teams it can support.

    For example, in the real world there may 2 companies that make widgets. Company 1 starts up in Pittsburgh and Company 2 starts in NYC. As they grow Company 1 would want to tap into the vast market of NYC and compete with Company 2. If Company 2 claimed they have exclusive rights to NYC Company 1 would sue Company 2 and win in court and Company 2 would be broken up into several companies and there would be competition for the NYC widget market. In baseball, this is not the case, 2 teams have a monopoly on the biggest market. If baseball was an industry, every "company" would have the same ability to compete for revenue from any city and every team would have an equal chance to sign any free agent. Obviously, this is not the case and whenever the next stud goes becomes a FA only a few teams will be able to sign him.

    In the real world supply and demand set prices for things. When the price is set anyone who has the money can decide to buy the product. In baseball, there are no "prices" for FAs because no matter what any team offers a FA, if the Yankees want that player they just offer him more. They operate with the unfair advantage of having much more money at their disposal because they play in a market where their radio revenues are larger than some teams TV revenues. The Brewers offered Sabathia $100 M, and the Yankees offered him $160 M, but even if the Brewers offered him $160 (which would have crippled the franchise for years but has no effect on the Yankees ability to continue to add players..Teixeira, etc) the Yankees would have just offered him $180 M.

  110. Andy,

    What good is it for the overall health of the game, when only a few franchises can even afford to compete? And the others merely bow and scrape in the shadow of the monied, take their share of the gate when those clubs visit, and otherwise jockey for position in the modern version of the second division.

    Is it good for the game when two-thirds of millionaire owners simply can't afford to challenge the mighty Yankees?

    What to do? Sign up the remaining few billionaires who want to play owner, then escalate the salary wars even further?

    When Cliff Lee finishes the season, will the Yankees just give him a blank check to fill in?

    It's getting so that even cable rates to watch on TV are getting too expensive, because of the fees. It's gotta stop.

    Oh, well. At least, I'll have more time to play with my Strat-O-Matic sets.

  111. Matt Young Says:

    You have to realistic Mike and obviously you're not. I give up.

  112. Most of things I have said reflect the way baseball was before Steinbrenner came along, and it was better then. I am arguing that Steinbrenner, and the current system of baseball economics that he exploited are bad. Everything I have said reflects the realistic way that things actaully were. It would be better to return to the days of no free agency...or add a salary cap.

  113. Mike-

    You have demonstrated why things were better than. If they were so much better, explain how and why.

  114. BTW, regardless of how you feel about the Big Stein, I think he deserves this thread going longer than the Jack Morris one, and any other biggies. It just seems right.

    Also, I don't know why I didn't put it together earlier, but how about the fact that he died on the day of the All-Star game. Almost like he planned it. Born on the 4th of July and died during the All-Star break. He sure had a knack for timing, eh?

  115. He's got the record, ability, and contribution to the game criteria down (though I'd argue the contribution is more negative than positive), but I think he kinda lacks the integrity, sportsmanship, and character components. I have little doubt he'll get in, but if he belongs, it's because of his presence rather than his quality.

  116. Great players spent their entire careers (or all of their good years) with the same team, allowing for a special connection with the fans and the city. This rarely happens anymore.

    Teams success was based on their trading and drafting, thus an even playing field. Now the #1 thing in baseball that correlates most with consistent winning is salary. Because of this a very small amount of teams are guaranteed to have a chance at the playoffs EVERY year and most teams have to struggle and make all the rights moves to put together a nice run for a few years before the rich teams take all their best players.

    If a poor team drafts a great player as soon as their FA time comes all they are thinking about is what kind of trade should we pull off or should be take the draft picks. When the Yankees have a yougn star ready for FA they just pay him the most money and they get to keep him. They never have to worry about which 2 of their 4 young stars to sign and which to let go like most teams do.

    Tickets prices were actually reasoable, it was possible for actual middle to lower middle income families to attend games a few times a summer and not have to sacrafice other luxaries because a hot dog is $5. This is also clearly better for the fans.


    Now, for the third time I believe, would someone please explain how the current system is better????

  117. Mike is the stupidest person I have ever seen post about baseball or anything to do with reality in my entire life.

  118. The Yankee fans on this post are just delusional. The Yankees participate in a sport in which they have an enormous advantage because of their revenue. There's no other team in any other sport that has such an advantage.

    During the Winter of 08-09, the Yankees spent $423 million dollars on 3 friggin players!! Few teams could even afford one of those contracts no team could even afford two let alone 3.

    The Previous winter they signed A-Rod to a 10 year $275 million dollar contract from 2008-2017. So basically the Yankees have $700 million dollars invested in only 4 players!

    Last year the Yankees Revenue was $441 million dollars. The next closet team was the Mets at $268 million about $170 million difference.

    And all this talk about the Yankees putting all their money back into the team is B.S. The Yankees spent 46.9% of their revenue on payroll which is approximately LEAGUE AVERAGE, the same as the Kansas City Royals.

    Here's a Joe Posnanski article that explains the problem in more detail.

  119. This notion that Steinbrenner puts his money back into the Yankees is also a dumb point that keeps getting pushed around. Steinbrenner spent more money because his team earned more money.

    The Yankees have a certain percentage that they are willing to spend each year on payroll. If the revenue goes up, they have more to spend, if it goes down they have less to spend on payroll.

    Do you think Steinbrenner actually takes money out of his kid's inheritance to pay for players?? "Sorry kids, I really wanted to give you $12 million dollars as a gift but I had to give it to Damaso Marte."

  120. Mike,

    You make some valid points like Baseball's exemption from Anti-Trust violations. For example, the Kansas City Royals can't just pack up and move to New Jersey. Or how sports leagues are different from other businesses in that they need competition to be balanced for them to be successful, ex. the N.F.L.

    But I think your overly nostalgic and naive about pre-1973 baseball.

    But I think baseball has really shot itself in the foot for the long run. Young people don't care about baseball. They don't watch the games on t.v. What's going to happen in the future?

  121. I completely understand that the way things were will never happen again barring a complete revolt by the fans. I am just simply saying things were better before the Steinbrenner era and I have yet to hear one arguement why that is not true.

    I am only 25 so I am not nostalgic about an era I never saw, but my dad knew what it was like to have the same chances of winning as the yankees or at least know that eventually their streak of dominance will come to end such as 1965-1973ish and 1982-1993ish. Now that is impossible, the Yankees will always be a legit team and never be projected to finish last except for maybe a 1-2 year dip and then they will be back. The Pirates have not had 17 straight losing seasons because their owner is an idiot and Steinbrenner was a genious, the difference in salary and revenue tells the whole story.

  122. Mike-

    "Prior to the implementation of the First-Year Player Draft, amateurs were free to sign with any Major League team that offered them a contract. As a result, wealthier teams such as the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals were able to stockpile young talent, while poorer clubs were left to sign less desirable prospects." (Wikipedia)

    The draft was not instituted until 1965. So, if MLB ever did work the way you romanticized it, it was for an 8 year period between '65 and '73.

  123. Don't ya just hate when facts get in the way of sentiment?

  124. What are you talking about? All I have been doing is arguing about the way things should be, not how they currently are or were. The scenario that is closest to the best system for the fans was in place before Steinbrenner started buying all the best players after they became established ML all-stars. It was not perfect, just better.

    So please just lay out some facts as to why the current system is best for the non-Yankee fans or get over your sentiment that the Yankees "deserve to be the best team" or "earned the right" or "have an owner who cares more" or "make smarter decisions and money has nothing to do with it."

  125. "Great players spent their entire careers (or all of their good years) with the same team, allowing for a special connection with the fans and the city. This rarely happens anymore.

    Teams success was based on their trading and drafting, thus an even playing field. Now the #1 thing in baseball that correlates most with consistent winning is salary. Because of this a very small amount of teams are guaranteed to have a chance at the playoffs EVERY year and most teams have to struggle and make all the rights moves to put together a nice run for a few years before the rich teams take all their best players.
    Tickets prices were actually reasoable, it was possible for actual middle to lower middle income families to attend games a few times a summer and not have to sacrafice other luxaries because a hot dog is $5. This is also clearly better for the fans."

    Mike, all that past tense sure as hell SOUNDS like you are talking about something that was...

  126. Also,
    "The scenario that is closest to the best system for the fans was in place before Steinbrenner started buying all the best players after they became established ML all-stars. It was not perfect, just better."

    What system and time period are you talking about? Free agency began in '73. Steinbrenner signed Reggie Jackson in '78.

    If you are talking about pre-free agency, there was an 8 year span that MIGHT fit your criteria. If you are talking about post-free agency but pre-Steinbrenner spending spree, you are talking about AT MOST 5 years. Neither of those time frames is long enough for the system you advocate to develop.

    Now, maybe you have an idea for a system. I'd love to hear it. But you keep talking about the way things were, only, things never were the way you describe them.

  127. Actually, Steinbrenner signed Catfish in '74. So Steinbrenner exploited his advantage from essentially the very beginning of free agency. So you are really only looking at the 8 year window between the institution of the draft and the beginning of free agency for a time period where there was anything resembling a level playing field that was not impacted by revenue streams.

  128. BSK, what is your point? So what if there was only an 8 year period, what does that have to do with anything??? What do you want me to say, yes, I admit you are right, there was only an 8 year period where baseball had its best setup for the fans. Now please stop trying to tell me what I meant to say. I have made several posts explaining why the current system is bad for fans and then what a better system would be.

    Now its your turn, tell me why Im wrong. Tell me why the current system is best for the fans with a thoughtful post...or just continue to be like most Yankee fans and call me an idiot without saying anything else.

  129. I'm not a Yankee fan. Far from it, buddy. I'm a Red Sox fan, so please stop making assumptions.

    I don't think the structure needs to be one that is best for fans. That is ludicrous. You are right that there are differences between baseball and other industries/businesses. But your argument demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of basic fundamental economics.

    1.) Salary has NO IMPACT on ticket prices. For years, the Red Sox had the most expensive ticket in town. And while they were a high payroll team, they were never the highest. So how does this jibe? Well, the Sox play in the smallest stadium and were incredibly popular. So, there was a high demand and low supply. Naturally prices went up. So, even without high salaries, prices would be as high as fans are willing to pay, which until the recent economic downtown, were very high and continually rising, with record-breaking attendance year-after-year.
    2.) Suppose teams had complete control over a player as you have advocated for. How would salary be set? Would each team determine it? Would an independent arbiter be brought in? We have seen how ugly some arbitration cases have gotten. My guess is you'd see a LOT more animosity between teams and players... not sure how many fans enjoy that. You'd also see player hold-outs, which are never pretty and certainly not fan friendly. Would there be any guarantee to a player's contract? If not, then a team would cut him as soon as he started sucking. What would stop a guy from deliberately sucking for a year to get out of a shitty situation? Nothing. That's not very fan friendly.
    3.) Let's take an example from the NBA. How many fans have been looking forward to the summer of 2010 because they new it meant a chance to get LeBron or Wade on their team? Articles have been written about it ever since they signed their original extensions, back in 2007 I believe. That is 3 years of excitement! Excitement that could NEVER exist in the system you spoke about. LeBron would be in Cleveland and, barring a trade, no other franchise or group of fans would ever get a chance to see him wear their team's jersey. Now, obviously, most teams and fan groups will never see certain players on their squad. But, there is the chance. And, as we saw in the LeBron scenario, there is also the bitter disappointment of unrealized dreams. But isn't that part of the fan experience? The ups and downs... the hope and the heartbreak? In your world, LeBron is a Cav for life, Pujols is a Cardinal for life, and I don't even get to dream about one of them on my team. Not fan friendly, if you ask me.

    So, you have started from an unfair premise that begs way to many questions (that baseball is all about the fan). In spite of that, I have given you 3 solid arguments why even your system would not be best for the fan.

    You have also claimed I called you an idiot, something I never did. I simply pointed out the fallacy of your argument and the inconsistency of your approach. If that made you feel idiotic, that is on you, not me.

    Personally, I think reform is needed. I'd like to see a hard cap and a hard floor. I think hometown teams should have built-in advantages to retaining talent (such as in the NBA). I think the draft should include international players and that picks ought to be able to be traded. I think MLB should negotiate a league-wide TV contract a la the NFL so that market-size has less of an impact on revenue stream. I think there should be more freedom of movement for franchises but that teams must be sole owners of their stadiums. I could go on. But I think that is more than enough to demonstrate that baseball reform need not restrict the rights and freedoms of players.

  130. OK BSK, sorry I called you a Yankee fan.
    1) "And when you look at the Forbes numbers, yes, it does seem to ring true that salaries are driven by revenue and not the other way around … that is to say that your ticket price didn’t go up because Roy Halladay got a $60 million extension, but instead Roy Halladay got a $60 million extension because of the price of your Philadelphia ticket" ( Ouch, so you were totally wrong with your #1 statement.

    Also, based on your #96 post you do not understand basic economics. Fans are not consumers, they may be in the sense that they buy tickets and shirts and hot dogs, but in the economic sense in that they control the demand side, they are not consumers. Consumers in capitalism buy goods and services from many companies competeing for their money based on many things like price, location, quality, brand name, customer service, value...etc. If baseball fans were consumers they would decide between the Yankees and Pirates and Reds etc and probably become Yankee fans because they win the most and are covered the most on sportscenter. This is, however, not the case. Fans are essentailly forced to submit to the monopoly of the team in their hometown. And owners are not companies in the economic sense that they control the supply side. If this was true teams would follow the demand and there would be 5 teams in NYC. Just like there are probably at least 5 times more McDonalds in NYC than in Milwaukee.

    2) Salary should be set using arbitration, I said that in post 45. I dont think this will produce much animosity as most players win their cases these days and I dont recall many players holding out because they lost their case??? Contracts would be guaranteed just like today and teams would need to decide if they wanted to risk signing a plyer to an arbitration deal or let them go, different from today where teams and players agree to the deal before its done. And nothing stopped Gary Sheffield from intentionally sucking to be traded so thats still a problem.

    3) This is really the wow post of the day...I dont even know where to begin really. THERE IS A SALARY CAP IN THE NBA!!! All teams actually do have a chance to get LeBron. Do you honestly think every team had an equal chance to sign CC Sabathia!?!? Also this whole excitement argument seems pretty weird to me, I think most people prefer the in-game excitement from a sport instead of waiting to find out how rich the next young spoiled athlete will become.

    Also, as I said in #56 if there was a salary cap that every team actually used then FA would be fine, but the way things are is bad. So we are in agreement that a salary cap would mean that FA could the NFL where teams only suck because of bad signing, bad trades and bad drafting.

  131. May I also point out how funny your opening line is to any fan of a non ESPN-hyped team who may be reading this...

    "I'm not a Yankee fan. Far from it, buddy. I'm a Red Sox fan"

    -You guys are not as far apart as you may think, you are basically the same thing in the eyes of the rest of the fans.

  132. Mike-

    1.) You're just losing it. Yes, the money derived from ticket prices is, in part, put towards salary. But that does not mean that salaries drive ticket prices. It is not a reciprocal relationship, as you have attempted to make it. Are you really that dense? The quote you offered is in DIRECT support of what I've said. Reading comprehension fail.
    As for your contention that fans aren't consumers, that is just dead wrong, especially today. With new cable packages available, I can root for any team I want to. I can watch any team on TV every day. And you say we would all root for the Yanks because they are the best. Why? The Palm Steakhouse clearly does better things with beef than McDonalds. Does that mean everyone goes there instead of McDs? Nope. Different people want different things. There is no one-size-fits-all to consumerism. If fans aren't consumers, what are they exactly? I acknowledged that professional sports do not function like most other industries/businesses, but that doesn't make them sometime entirely different. It just makes them a different model.

    2.) You are underestimating the problems that would arise from such a salary structure. Plain and simple. Over time, players would become frustrated with the lack of control they have over their situation, including their ability to negotiate salary. They would have absolutely NO leverage, except to hold out. We already see this happen in the NFL. Because of the nature of non-guaranteed contracts, the teams have a lot more leverage, so players counter that with hold outs.

    3.) You completely missed the point. No matter what, LeBron was going to play basketball next year. So there was no loss of on-court excitement. But because of free agency, there was also off-court drama added. And, yes, the NBA salary cap and overall salary system allowed more teams to be involved, but you don't even advocate for a salary cap, because one would not be needed in your system. So that point is moot.
    Why would your system need a salary cap? Teams would pay players what they wanted to and that would be that. Players could sit out if they don't get what they want. If teams approach a salary cap, what happens? They either pay players less or they let them go. De facto free agency. Well, if they wanted to keep a guy, they'd simply pay him less and he'd hold out. So, your system does not need nor would it truly have a salary cap, so to act as if that is the reason the free agency in the NBA worked as it did, you are sorely mistaken.

    Listen, you've got a crack pot idea that is not at all fleshed out. Instead of demonstrating how it's good for the fan, you simply attempt to poke holes in the argument of people disagreeing with you. You've made a positive assertion: that free agency makes baseball bad for fans. The only argument I've seen you articulate (and admittedly, I haven't read them all... there are over 125 posts here) has to do with team/fan attachment to players who play their whole career with one team. Meh. As a fan, that is not a HUGE deal to me. Maybe to you it is. But I would enjoy the league that you've described less. You may think I'm "wrong" to feel that way, but given that enjoyment is subjective, that doesn't really matter.

    Face it, no one here agrees with you. Maybe your system is better for Mike, because it gives you tinglies to wax nostalgic for an era your dad told you about that never really existed, but none of the fans here, who are generally some of the smartest and most passionate, share your belief. And, while you can maybe dismiss us as whackos who aren't representative and wouldn't know a good time if it hit us in the face, the facts don't back you up either. You quote an article that supports my position and not yours, you ignore human nature and hundreds of years of history of how leverage functions in labor negotiations, and insist that something that added an extra layer of excitement to an already exciting sport didn't really matter and happened because of a structure that your idea ultimately lacks in any functional way.

    An epic fail on all levels. But you can keep touting it and tilting at wind mills. Good day.

  133. "May I also point out how funny your opening line is to any fan of a non ESPN-hyped team who may be reading this...

    "I'm not a Yankee fan. Far from it, buddy. I'm a Red Sox fan"

    -You guys are not as far apart as you may think, you are basically the same thing in the eyes of the rest of the fans."

    Oi vei, again, are you that dense? Obviously, the Yankees and Red Sox are much closer with regards to salary/revenue than they are to other teams. But to like the Sox is essentially to hate the Yankees. You acted as if my opposition to you was predicated upon some love for the Yankees. That is something very far from the actual emotion I feel towards them. So, yes, I am very far from being a fan for the Yankees, because instead of LIKING them, which a fan does, I do the opposite and DISLIKE them.

    Your only argument is to misconstrue the arguments of others and poke holes in those misrepresentations. That is a straw man, which is one of the most disingenuous and intellectually dishonest approaches to discourse, which is why it is one of the major informal fallacies. But keep on going with that. It'll get you far.

  134. Also, the fact that the NBA has a salary cap ultimately had nothing to do with anyone being able to sign Lebron. James, Bosh and Wade all colluded and decided to play together, for the purpose of trying to win a title.

    No one had a chance to sign LeBron James but the Miami Heat. Just as sickening will be the sudden decision that Pat Riley feels "it" again, and is looking forward to returning to the coaching ranks.

  135. The Phillies have to raise their ticket prices to sign Roy Halladay because it is the only way they can even try to compete with the Yankees, who force them to overpay for everyone because they do. I am talking about a system in which a team wants to compete with the Yankees, they have to raise their tickets prices to get the players so they can afford to make a deal in the same ballpark as the Yankees. So because the Yankees artificially raise the salary of every player other teams must compensate by raising their ticket prices (Red Sox, Phillies) or never winning (Pirates, Royals). The reason Fenway tickets prices are increasing is not because of the amazing fans, its because its the only to compete with the Yankees. The article says the only reason the Phillies got Halladay was because they raised their prices...this never used to happen so the rediculously high salaries of today are affecting your ticket prices.

    In reality, people who are true fans root for their home team, these are the people I am talking about, not some bandwaggon fan who can become a self proclaimed Yankee fan because they can order MLB extra innings. Real fans do not have a choice on who their favorite team is, thus they are not setting the demand, the demand is already set for them based on where they are born. Also, great analogy with a steakhouse and McDonalds, clearly the only reason people choose McDs is because they appreciate beef differently...the price has nothing to do with it!?

    How often did Stan Musial hold out? I also said the guaranteed contracts are fine.

    I also could care less what other people here think, how many people make constant posts asking how to use the play index? If you READ the directions it is pretty simple. If you have ever learned anything about logic you would know that it is not a valid arguement to say that because no one agrees with you you must be wrong.

    It is really amazing how you ESPN coddled, east coast fans have no idea what it is like to support any other team. Do you think I get to have the excitement and "drama" of an off-season where my team might get the best player available like you do every single year? NO! Thats something your current system doesnt offer me yet you seem to be fine with that.

    And again, please stop telling me what I wrote. I said that a salary cap would eliminate the need to end FA, but under the current setup FA should not exist or at least change into a way that EVERY team had a chance at every player. I was being very critical of the current system because this pole is about the man most responsible for it. The writer then said causing the current system is neither good or bad, which I find rediculous and tried to argue why it is infact, bad. The reason FA combined with no salary cap is bad for fans is because only a select few teams can sign the best players, SOME TEAMS HAVE NO CHANCE.

  136. Guys,

    We don't need to insult fellow posters to make points, or to have a discussion on the merits of free agency.

    Players should have the right to shop their talents, that much is in keeping with what is fair and right in our society. Those are the norms.

    However, the pre-free agency system also allowed owners just as much of an unfettered opportunity to horde players as today's system does. And players who were stuck on the bench (or the farm), or got paid a (relative) pittance on those teams had no recourse.

    You could be Mickey Mantle, but the Yankees could still pay you pennies on your real dollar value, if they wanted to. And the Major League minimum was still low enough that many players still had to find off-season jobs to make ends meet.

    Many players held out, well-paid or otherwise, by the standards of their era. Some wanted better pay; others simply hated Spring Training. Sometimes the media got behind a player they perceived as slighted. The bad press could force a team to ante-up.

    Meanwhile, the Yankees of the 1950's were so over-stocked with talent, they could practically afford to give it away. They just went out and combed the countryside, signing whoever they could.

    The bottom-to-top draft righted some of those wrongs, but it also created a system in which the lesser teams got first dibs, and now they had the right to keep a player indefinitely. That was still wrong, even as it helped to break up the Yankees' reign.

    I would agree that there needs to be a cap of some sort on owners' stupidity/greed. The idea that one or two can buy up all the titles by merely flinging more money at the top players offends my sensibilities, too.

    I have been spending a lot of time playing the early seasons made available by Strat-O-Matic. I love the sense of continuity where it exists. I love reading about the lifelong friendships that developed when players were long-time teammates.

    I hate the thought that someone with more money can now just swoop in and take all that away.

    A system that can embrace free agency, while retaining the current system of team control/arbitration for the player's first six years is good. I would also like to see a cap on team salary outlays.

    I have no problem with owners raking in the money, but there should be something that allows the slightly-rich to compete with the super-rich. There needs to be a way to balance the impact of the revenue streams (broadcast rights, locally-situated wealth in the major population centers).

    A right of first refusal for the team losing a player would still have the Yankees over-paying for talent, just so that their competing suitors couldn't match the bid. The Yankees have enough money to do just that.

    A hard cap on team spending would do that, to a degree. But there are also ways teams could direct alternate monies to those players. Signing bonuses, personal-services contracts that take effect after a player's career ends, local advertising revenues, or providing players for unspecified "promotional" services are just a few samples.

    Look at how our campaign contribution laws supposedly limit what donors can give. There are always loopholes.

    Rather than knock some of our fellow fans for what we perceive as more "idyllic/misguided" views, why don't we put our heads together? Maybe we can come up with something that's worth passing "up the chain".

  137. I don't get all the anti-Yankee and anti-Steinbrenner sentiment. The Yankees have enjoyed an advantage by virtue of being located in a huge metropolitan area. They can sell expensive tickets more easily by drawing on a larger fan base that contains a larger number of above-average income people. (not higher average income, just a larger number of people) They get higher TV revenues because they are broadcasting and advertising to more people. The Yankees and Steinbrenner took advantage of this. It's in no way unfair or obscene. MLB could take steps to eliminate the advantage they have allowed by instituting a salary cap or putting more teams in NY to compete for the same fan dollars. Either idea has some merit. But to blame the Yankees for the current situation makes no sense at all.

  138. Matt Young Says:

    Thanks Andy and Jeff W for some nicely balanced blogs. The system is imperfect, and has been for a long time...perhaps it's even more imperfect today, and there are some solutions, but I doubt they'll go into place given the amount of greed on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately the true fans do lose out because of the greed on both sides. And please, Andy's email should be noted --you can't fault a team for being in NY, and I'll state again, GEORGE WAS AGAINST FREE AGENCY because he thought it would ruin the game. The players wanted it, and they wanted it for many good reasons. After realizing free agency was going to happen George took advantage of it. So, it was by no means all his fault, but I do understand to a degree the resentment, but that resentment should be spread out across all bodies of baseball and not just the Yankees (or Red Sox!!) just because they're the poster child of an imperfect system.

  139. Andy,

    There's a Anti-Yankee, Anti-Steinbrenner sentiment because people don't like to read B.S. about the Yankees winning because "They just worked harder" or "were just smarter" than every other mlb club in baseball without acknowledging the fact that they had an enormous economic/competitive advantage.

    No team in baseball could go out and spend $700 million dollars on just four players. And that's not even counting the $100 million they spent on Jeter & Rivera from 2008-2010.

    Steinbrenner was a convicted felon who was banned from baseball and now he's supposed to have been some kind of saint? Why, because he made a lot of money? Since when did Wealth and Virtue become synonymous?

    The only reason he was re-instated was that the owners staged a coup against the last real commissioner of baseball in 1992. The same hypocrites in the media who chastise Pete Rose, fawn over Steinbrenner.

  140. Mike-

    You're simply misrepresenting the economics of ticket prices and salaries. Every study has concluded that salaries do not drive ticket prices.

    Look at this:

    How do the Angels consistently come in upon the cheapest teams in terms of fan costs, yet they generally have a higher pay roll? Why do the Rays and Marlins have some of the most expensive concessions despite some of the lowest payrolls? Teams charge what they can. If the Phillies signed every top player in the world for $50 mil a year, they wouldn't sell $50,000 tickets because no one would buy them.

    This one was a particular gem though: "Real fans do not have a choice on who their favorite team is." How does that make one a REAL fan? I always thought a REAL fan was someone who DID have the option to choose otherwise and chose the one they did anyway. Ha!

  141. Andy,

    How can you refer to the Yankee situation "it's in no way unfair or obscene." True the Yankees didn't create this environment all by themselves but it's most definitely unfair. Obscene is a subjective term so I'll let people decide for themselves. I would say it's a little obscene to build an unnecessary $1.5 billion dollar stadium right in the middle of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. It's also a little obscene that most of it was funded by the tax payers of New York. And it's a little obscene to have seats for one single Regular Season Game that sell for $500-2500 a seat.

    As far as the Yankee Situation being "Unfair". Imagine a marathon with 30 runners and one of the runners is given a 1 or 2 mile head start every race. I would say that's a little "unfair". And then the "head-start" runner would bristle if someone had the gall to imply that he had an "unfair" advantage.

  142. Matt Young Says:

    I agree it would be worth running the Steinbrenner poll again at some point. I think I would actually change my vote to no, but I see good arguments on both sides. He did more good than many here want to give him credit for, but he also crossed some pretty bad lines that aren't that forgivable. There's also a lot more gray in the free agency the yankees big empire has ruined baseball idea as well. The players wanted free agency and the yankees played by that system. Yes, George went on ruthless spending binges at times, but revenue sharing has helped in ways too...and no, not all teams are putting back into their teams to the level they should....and, more small market teams can compete than people are willing to admit. The Twins, Cardinals, Braves are always pretty good and they aren't huge markets not to mention there's usually another 6 or so different small market teams each year that compete. In recent years, Marlins, Padres, Tigers, Rays, Astros, A's, and Rockies have had good teams in the playoffs not to mention this years Reds. It does come down to wise management to a degree. As for Mike, maybe you're a Mariners fan? They have gone out and bought lots of free agents that were good in recent years and the team just hasn't jelled. It would have been nice to see Lee, Bedard and Hernenadez in the same rotation though.

    To the above: Since when did Wealth and Virtue become synonymous? They just worked harder" or "were just smarter" than every other mlb club in baseball without acknowledging the fact that they had an enormous economic/competitive advantage.

    Unfortunately these concepts have permeated more than baseball. I love it when I hear people say that, well I worked harder for my money. Yes, there are lazy people, but most people are working hard for their money despite some making lots more money than others even when they're ripping people off.

  143. John Q, what I meant was that the Yankees have not engaged in unfair of obscene practices. As I said right at the beginning of my post, they have a distinct advantage, afford by the current rules of the game. One could call that 'unfair' when referring to the overall structure of how baseball is run, and one also has the right to call the current imbalance in baseball obscene. I'm just saying that these things are not the Yankees' fault. They have operated within the rules. If you want to attack the rules--by all means I think that would be appropriate.

  144. Matt Young Says:

    As for the new Yankee stadium, from what i understand the stadium was built by Steinbrenner money and not the taxpayers unlike all the other stadiums being built. I understand this might not be black and white since they probably did get some tax credits when building the stadium, but as far the monies used, it was vastly all George's money...and the Bronx is a much better place today than it was in 1978.

  145. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    WOW! this discussion has taken on a life of its own! One more point to make; several people here have gotten all warm n'fuzzy about the "good old days" of baseball, when all the major-league teams had an equal chance to win. Well, this is simply NOT TRUE; seventy years ago, a hundred years ago, the wealthiest teams still had a rather large advantage over the other teams...

    1910 - There was no free agency, but no draft either. Teams didn't have farm systems; the minor leagues were independent of the major leagues. Teams sometimes signed players right out of college, but usually they bought them from the highest level of the minors (class "A"); minor league teams supported themselves largely by selling players contracts up the next level of the minor league chain. Major league teams often paid large sums to the top-level minor league clubs: Rube Marquard was known as the "$11,000 Lemon" (which was a HUGE sum of $ then) because of his initial failure as a Giants pitcher in this time period. Obviously, the wealthiest teams could pay more for the best minor league players, and they had a greater "margin for error" if they were wrong about a player.

    1940 - Most teams had farm systems, but there was a VAST difference in the quality; teams such as the Yankees and Cardinals (who originated the idea of owning minor league clubs through Branch Rickey) controlled a large number of teams, and would frequently trade their surplus players to other teams for major league talent. Wealthier teams had better farm systems, to both develop and acquire major league talent. Poorer teams, such as the Browns and Phillies, not only didn't have much of a farm system, but often had to sell their good players to make basic operating expenses. For reference, see the series of trades/sales the Browns made with the Red Sox in the late 1940s, which involved large amounts of cash going to St. Louis.

    In short, there have ALWAYS been "haves" and "have-nots" amongst major league teams, and the wealthy teams have ALWAYS had a large advantage. Also, pre-free agency, many many star players had serious contract disputes, including Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker (traded to Cleveland), Micky Mantle (the Yankees tried to CUT his salary after his 1957 MVP year!), Walter Johnson (almost went to the Federal League), and Joe DiMaggio in 1938, when he got villified in the press for demanding after two years to make as much as Lou Gehrig. In short, the "good old days" many baseball fans pine for never actually existed in the first place.

  146. Bsk,

    You make some excellent points. There's a tipping point as to how much a fan base can or will pay for tickets. There comes a point when fans will simple not pay "X" amount for a ticket. The Yankees/Mets, Dodgers/Angels, Boston/Philadelphia, and Chicago are at an advantage because they have larger populations and have more wealth than say Kansas City or Pittsburgh.

    Tampa is kind of an anomaly at the moment. They're competing because their team is young and cheap. It's going to become almost impossible for the Rays to compete in the A.L. East, once their players start becoming eligible for free-agency.

  147. John Q-

    I realize the inequity of the system. Big market teams have an advantage because they generally have higher demand and are working with people who can pay more, so they can charge more. Though ticket prices are ultimately a drop in the bucket. The much bigger inequities have to do with television rights. So, yes, certain teams absolutely have more money to spend than others. Obviously, there is still a lot of variance with how teams use money (some teams with money simply don't spend it). But the notion that salaries drive ticket prices is simply wrong and has been demonstrated to be so time and time again.

    Personally, as I said before, I'd prefer a soft salary cap and a hard salary floor with nationally negotiated television rights (a la the NFL). That would go a LONG WAY towards eliminating the financial inequities, if one believes they should be eliminated (I realize there are arguments why they shouldn't be).

  148. Matt,

    I don't know where you got the notion that Yankee Stadium was financed with "Steinbrenner" money. There were about 1 billion dollars in bonds issued to fund the stadium. Then the Yankees had to go back to the NY legislature to get another $400 million. And there were tons of shenanigans reported about the Yankees from the NY legislature.

    There's been a ton of backlash from local businesses because they were promised a ton of things that the Yankees basically B.S. about. The local business owners now realize that what the Yankees created has shut-out local merchants because the new Yankee Stadium is a self-contained operation with restaurants and stores in the stadium, etc.

    The new Yankee Stadium looks like something out of the Roman Empire or Mid-Evil England with this huge castle surrounded by very poor area.

  149. Everyone needs to realize that the highest paid player at each position in baseball sets the bar for what somebody should make. Why do you think the Phillies signed Ryan Howard? because they did not want Pujols to get 30 Mil. and then have to pay Howard 28 Mil. Now the Cardinlas or any other team in Baseball will have to pay Pujols more than Howard to give him market value.

    an individual cap on what a player can make is all that is needed, this will force the players to chose winning and where they are happy over money and assure that teams cannot be outbid as long as tehy are willing to the max for a player.

    Once you have top talent making the max everyone else will fall into place by their value. This will not stop stupid moves but it will keep one of the big players from offering a guy like say Pujols 120 mil. over 3 years. Knowing that the Cardinals could never match that and still field a competitive team around him. Instead ever team wanting him would be offering the same salary (max) and it would be his choice to pull a Lebron and say I would rather be someplace else.

  150. BSK,

    I agree with you 100% The ticket price/salary situation is not reported accurately by the media.

    Your exactly correct in saying T.V./Radio Rights, especially Cable T.V. rights are the crux of the problem as far as baseball inequities go. And this problem really started during the early 90's when large markets could suddenly cash in on broadcasting their games on Pay cable television. And it's only gotten worse as big market teams have created the problem.

    Part of the problem is that these t.v./radio agreements were originally made between clubs during the 1950's when broadcasts were a very small portion of a team's actual revenue.

    One of the non-reported events of the '94-95 strike was that their were really two wars going on: Owners vs. Players and Big Market teams vs. Small Market teams. The players and the big market teams won.

    What I've often thought the small market/mid market teams should do is band together and stop playing. They should tell the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox "Have a great time playing a 162 game schedule against yourself, call us when you want to negotiate.

  151. Matt Young Says:

    You are right--thanks!!! "Also controversial was the price tag of $2.3 billion dollar new stadium, including $1.2 billion in taxpayer subsidies". I new it was gray, but not that gray. Thanks for correcting me but I did get you on the "Girardi picked Hughes" comment. :-)

  152. Lawrence Azrin,

    While most of baseball's history is filled with Have/Have Nots, There was a very competitive environment in baseball from about 1965-1993, with the start of the amateur draft, to free agency. This was a time period where small/mid market teams like the Royals, Pirates, Reds, Orioles, and A's were the dominate teams.

    It was a time period where the Pirates or Twins won as many championships as the Yankees (2). A time period when the Royals, as late as 1990, could have the largest payroll in baseball. A time period where the Royals could have as many division titles as the Yankees (5). A time period when the Pirates won 8! division titles and the A's won 9 division titles.

    The big market owners even agreed to collusion which was really dumb when you think about it from their own selfish reasons.

    The big game changer was the local t.v. cable rights which which completely changed the game since 1994-1995. Now you have one team (Yankees) who have an enormous advantage with another 7-8 teams who basically run the game.

  153. Matt,

    From the all-star game, my bad on that one. I don't remember reading anything on the subject of players voting for players, good catch on that one.

  154. One thing we have to be careful about when talking about the current inequities is assuming the status quo will hold. While reform may bring about change, sometimes change happens on it's own. While I agree that the current systems is flawed, we want to avoid a "Sky is falling" mentality.

  155. Lawrence Azrin,

    I know I was one of the posters talking about baseball in what you called the "good old days". Your term, not mine.

    I think every single one of us likely has a warm 'n' fuzzy feeling about something in baseball over the years. A favorite player, or pennant race. There has been good and bad in all of them.

    I'm not over-romanticizing the Deadball Era, or anything like that, just stating that there are facets that are appealing to someone who likes the notion of a team that has stayed together over the years.

    You might feel the same way about Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson. Or -- ironically -- Mo, Jete, and Posada. The true heart and soul of the modern Yankees are the guys who came up through the farm. They are the guys who give this team its identity. Even Andy, who left, but then came back.

    Gar and Bone are the exceptions, though, as they took less money to stay in Seattle than they could have received elsewhere. Steinbrenner always had the deep pockets to not have to face what is reality for most of the rest of us.

    And those old guys who stayed together 100 years ago had no choice. Some of them probably hated each others' guts. That may have hurt the '30 Senators, in their race with the Athletics.

    Goose Goslin, for some reason, hated Manager Walter Johnson. That's why he was traded, for Heinie Manush and General Crowder. The trade was reportedly proffered by St. Louis owner Phil Ball, but the Senators were all-too-willing to counter the offer of Manush (and Crowder) for the Goose.

    The Nats finished a game off their Pythagoreans, and it's not a stretch to believe that bad blood on the club may have cost Walter a managerial pennant.

    At the same time, the A's were playing nine games over their Pythagoreans, and they captured the flag by an eight-game margin.

    In my several-times-mentioned Strat-O-Matic playing, I'm doing a short-season 1930, and the Senators are in front by three, after 32 games. Who's to say the pennant wasn't won (or lost) in the clubhouse? It doesn't necessarily look like it was in the cards.

    Yes, there were haves and have-nots back then. They have always been there. Connie Mack, that grandfatherly old man, was a bottom-line penny-pincher of the highest order, too.

    When he claimed the fans were not buying enough tickets to make ends meet, he sold all of his stars and let the team plunge to the basement -- twice! Many times, he took less than a full roster of players on the road, so as to cut travel costs.

    It's not just baseball that has changed, however. Society as a whole is different. Remember when we used to cherish the carefully-crafted verbosity of those earlier days? Men were men, and players were true teammates, always there for each other in the pinches (as Matty might have said).

    We used to treasure those fairy tale "as-told-to" bios of the players, where everything was wonderful.

    Now, we have wife-beaters, drug abusers, tell-alls, and greedy players (and owners), all looking out for Number One (and I don't mean the fastball). We have lost our innocence over the years.

    That's not to say we haven't tried, against all odds, to stay pure. I worked like the Devil to try to raise my son on the concepts of what's right, and what made a "good guy" on the team "good" (it wasn't the numbers).

    We might as well wish we could stroll with our ladies to the local park on a sun-drenched afternoon, sit on the green grass with a picnic lunch, and watch as the base ball match unfolds.

    Instead, we make the best of what we have.

  156. Matt Young Says:

    How telling and true --"We have lost our innocence over the years". Whether it's b/c we're now older and wiser or whether the crazed media is exposing everything on everybody, we now know so much more than we use for better and worse. Indeed, innocence has been lost for sure, so, we make the best of it.

  157. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #150: I was referring mainly to the pre-draft days, in particular pre-WWII, but you are currect; the period of the 1970s/80s was amongst the most competitive ever in MLB. You made a GREAT point about how it was the difference in local cable-TV rights, as much as free-agency itself, that led to the small-market/large-market split. In particular, Bill James called the 1970s the most competitive period ever, based on his "Index of Competitive Balance"(?), in the BJNHA.

    #153, I was not knocking you in particular, just making a more generalized point about how fans often believe the overall situation was so much better in the past (which often coincides with their childhood, as you pointed out). That's what I meant by "good old days". Your points are very well thought-out and logical; I really agree with your points in #44, #64(esp), #76, #100, #134(esp).

    I don't think the players or owners were better people 50/75/100 years ago, and I don't think the players or owners are worse people nowadays - human nature just doesn't change that much over the years. We certainly KNOW a lot more about the actual personal lives of these people, which as you said, isn't always a good thing. I prefer to focus on what the players do ON the field, not OFF the field.

    MLB has always had serious inequities in wealth between various teams; players have always wanted to be paid as much as possible; owners have always wished to maximize their revenues. These things have been CONSTANT throughout MLB history, only the methods vary.

    BTW the players I followed beginning when I was a kid were YAZ (Triple Crown!!) and Tony C; Boomer and Rico; Reggie Smith and Jim Lonborg; the Hawk(KH, not AD) and the Spacemen. I now know that most of these guys were good but not truly great players; despite that, I gotta admit I have a fondness for them that I do not have for similar players of other eras.

  158. Lawrence Azrin,

    Thanks for the nice comments. I know you were not "pickin' on" me, in particular, in your "good old days" reference.

    My first-ever fave was Bud Harrelson (I got bit by the baseball bug during the period following the '69 Series). I loved Harrelson's scrappiness.

    Later, as I began to appreciate talent and other aspects of a player's presence more fully, Roberto Clemente took center stage.

    I was in the Navy for 20 years ('75-'95), but quickly latched onto Gar when I returned home, for all his determination in making the bigs, and his working through potentially career-devastating hamstring injuries and problems with his eyesight that required specialized daily exercises (imagine a .312 hitter with a notorious knowledge of the strike zone, who had bad eyes!).

    And...he stayed, when he could have easily doubled his income by going elsewhere (like New York). After '95, his bat was pure gold, and I'm sure George would have loved to have Martinez anchor the middle of that lineup.

    I taught my son to look to the person, not just the numbers. We were fortunate to have a core group of Martinez, Jamie Moyer, Dan Wilson, John Olerud, Mike Cameron, clutch bench performers like Stan Javier and Mark McLemore, and, when he returned, Raul Ibanez.

    When he was here as the hitting coach, Jesse Barfield used to give my son hugs and high fives when we waited outside the Kingdome for autographs.

    Those were all moments to treasure.

    What Matt Young said about the media is one of the great conundrums. We demand that the media tell us what we need to know to be well-informed, yet we also dump on them when they give us that unvarnished, hurtful, truth in dark times.

    I was a Journalist in the Navy (Armed Forces Radio, etc.). I understand the need to know, even as it tears at our hearts sometimes.

    While we hate to hear some of the more sordid details, it is absolutely necessary (in my opinion) to know this stuff before we throw our support behind these institutions (whether they be ballplayers, teams, businesses, candidates).

    Imagine being one of the less-fortunate fans, to have wildly cheered for a particular player (worse yet, encouraged his child to also do so), then find out that player had been found guilty of rape, or vehicular homicide in a DUI incident.

    Imagine if all that stuff had been covered up, because the club worked behind the scenes to scrub the press releases, and then put that offender out on the publicity trail, promoting the team. Wouldn't you feel soiled, and used?

    Think steroids scandal, for a recent specific example.

    There will always be a little "boys will be boys" that is largely harmless fun and games. I can live with that. But someone needs to be guarding the gates when this stuff crosses the line.

    In promoting George, we are supporting a two-time criminal offender (once directly for his baseball-related activities) -- a felon -- who made it well-known that he cared little for anything or anyone but winning. Even if it brought financial ruin to the rest of the game.

    Yes, he brought some titles to New York. But, what is the price, in our own lives, when we surrender such huge chunks of our own moral standing, just for the sake of winning a few more games?

    That's where the craziness lies.

  159. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #156/Jeff W. THANKS for the response, it's really great to have a civil, rational, logical, dare I say it! - even FRIENDLY discussion, over the great World Wide Web.

    Back to the core issue - DOES George Steinbrenner belong in the BB HOF?? OK, it's actually THREE questions:
    1) WILL HE be elected to the HOF?
    2) Should he be elected BY THE STANDARDS of the HOF?
    3) Do I PERSONALLY BELIEVE he should be elected to the HOF?

    OK, here goes...
    1) By the extremely nebulous standards (which seem to be, "We'll put them in the HOF if we feel like...")he is EXTREMELY well qualified. It would be almost impossible have a basic narrative of modern baseball history without him being mentioned, and often. If you can put in Pittsburg owner Barney Dreyfess (who was a leader in the early 1900s NL), and Tom Yawkey (who happened to donate $30,000,000.00 to the HOF in Cooperstown, by the way...), you can certainly include George.

    2) Difficult to say, as the standards for owners are even more ill-defined than for managers. The major roadblock is of course being banned TWICE from baseball. Since he was re-instated ages ago, and hadn't said or done anything really outrageous in a while (probably due to his declining health), I believe the electors will finagle their way around this problem, discuss it but mostly ignore it, and elect him.

    3) Where to begin?? - under #1 he has a great argument, but under #2, the whole "character" aspect is a real large large negative on his report card. It's hard to get around the fact that he was BANNED TWICE from baseball - is anyone in the HOF, who was banned even ONCE??

    He always struck me as an obnoxious egomaniac bully born to wealth and privilege, who treated people as pieces on a chess board, to move around and discard when it serves him, feelings and consequences be dammed. On the other hand, there are probably other people in the BB HOF who meet this desription. He was probably a great guy to relatives and close friends, but he routinely treated people like crap, publicly humiliating or firing them, or both. I know he was very generous and philanthropic, but that only balances the scales so far. He was a very major "negative" public relations-wise for baseball, for most of his tenure as owner of THE NYY's.

    The whole Howard Spira/Dave Winfield incident is very troubling - I don't know if he deserved a lifetime ban (OK, it wasn't gambling), but it's a really really large black mark against him. Apparently winning overcomes everything negative. His portayal the last day or so reminds me of when Nixon died, people falling over themselves to say nice things about him: "Is this really the same guy we're talking about?". I mean, he probably wasn't 100% pure evil (like many Red Sox fans believe), but he was certainly not just a mythic figure who happened to make a few mistakes.

    OK, short version:
    Do I think he should be in the HOF? NO - if there are "character" standards, he DOES NOT meet them
    Will he be elected to the HOF? YES, but not before there's serious discussion about those negative issues

  160. David in Toledo Says:

    Absolutely. Right alongside Billy Martin.

  161. Lawrence Azrin,

    Excellent points, well said.

    It's hard to believe now but 20 years ago he was vilified by Yankee fans. Now he's a god.

    Steinbrenner will probably be elected to the HOF but seriously how do you elect someone who was banned twice and one of those bans was LIFETIME. It's like we live in the United States of Amnesia or something.

    Steinbrenner's death has brought back the memories of the coup that ousted Fay Vincent and essentially eliminated the Real Commissioner of baseball. And then the reinstatement of Steinbrenner the following year. The ousting of Fay Vincent is really one of the dark under-reported moments in baseball history.

  162. If Steinbrenner's transgressions weren't so malicious and damaging, I might be able to look the other way. He didn't say stupid stuff or drink and drive or skirt salary cap rules (all of which are issues); he tried to destroy a guy's career, a guy's livelihood. That's just wrong. For that, I think he should be kept out, even with all of the contributions he did make.

  163. Johnny Twisto Says:

    His percentage is dropping!

  164. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #161/John Q Says:
    "Lawrence Azrin, Excellent points, well said. It's hard to believe now but 20 years ago he was vilified by Yankee fans. Now he's a god."

    John Q,THANKS! WEll, as I said above, apparently winning overcomes everything negative, no matter how serious those negatives are.

    I don't think that Steinbrenner's ban was related to Vincent's ouster as Commissioner. As I recall, the owners decided he had overstepped his powers (was it about realignment of the NL?) and they collectively decided he "had to go".

  165. Lawrence,

    There's a line in a Bob Dylan song, "Sweetheart Like You", that seemed to sum up George Steinbrenner: "They say that patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings, steal a little and they throw you in jail, Steal a lot and then they make you king."

    Steinbrenner wasn't the reason they ousted Vincent but he benefited greatly when Vincent got kicked out.

    I think the main problem with Vincent and the role of "commissioner" pre-Selig, was that the commissioner was paid by the owners but functioned in the best interest of baseball. The owners wanted the commissioner to function in the best interest of the "Owners" not baseball.

    Steinbrenner/Yankees own their own t.v. network, which is kind of set up like a Public Relations arm of the Yankees and functions like Pravda used to in the old Soviet Union. So it's not likely you will hear anything that doesn't present Steinbrenner as a deity on Earth. David Cone made some critical comments about the Yankees last year so he wasn't asked to come back this year.

    One of my many problems with the current state of baseball is the level of hypocrisy in which it operates. The same people in the media who will vilify Pete Rose for consorting with gamblers will look the other way with Steinbrenner's involvement with gambler Howard Spira. Steinbrenner wasn't just banned because of his deplorable actions towards Dave Winfield, he was banned in part for conspiring with gambler Howard Spira.

  166. Matt Young Says:

    The Red Sox did have NESN first back in like 84. Coney not being asked back is ridiculous and not a good move. He was actually pretty good. At least he wasn't a gas-bag.

  167. Matt,

    I thought Cone was very good as well. I thought not bringing him back was petty. I guess there's a line on YES that you're not supposed to cross and Cone crossed it. It's not just the Yankees on YES, I hate all of these networks owned by teams. It's just public relations not journalism, yet all of these networks try to portray themselves as being completely objective which is just a joke.

  168. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Cone was improving dramatically as an announcer (making frequent shout-outs to B-R). I really hope he gets another chance with someone.

    Michael Kay's suckup Center Stage interview of "Mr. Steinbrenner" was one of the most cloying, embarrassing productions I've ever had the displeasure to watch. I'm sure it will be repeated ad nauseum on YES in the near future.

  169. Matt Young Says:

    Yeah, the networks (YES, NESN) are pretty much the same as our political channels as well. News across the board just isn't the same as it use to be.

  170. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Earlier in the thread someone (Mike?) complained that players rarely stay with one team anymore. We hear this a lot and I tend to think it's overblown, but I decided to take a look. There are 70 retired players who had at least 10,000 career plate appearances, which seems a pretty good sample.

    Fifteen spent their entire career with one team. Of those, 6 spent the bulk of their careers in the Free Agency Era, six were mostly in the post-war/pre-FA era, and three were mostly in the pre-war era. (Charlie Gehringer was the earliest such player; before the 154-game schedule came along shortly into the 20th century, it would be harder to have such a long career.)

    Sixteen played for two teams. 4 were in the FA era, 4 in the post-war era, and 8 in the pre-war era.

    If I go down to 8,000 PA, there are 38 retired one-team players. 16 played mostly in the FA era, 13 were post-war, 8 were pre-war, 1 was 19th century.

    Now you could try to control these numbers by total number of active major leaguers, number of major league teams, span of years, or other variables. Simply by raw totals (which is a valid way to look at it), one-team careers are more common in the past 35 years. (And Jeter and Chipper Jones will likely be joining the group.)

    I believe Yaz and Ripken played the most seasons with only one team, and they both spent at least a good chunk of their careers in the FA era.

  171. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Perhaps looking at a minimum number of seasons played would be better than PA, since the seasons have gotten longer. And then again, one could still argue there's an advantage to modern players in playing more seasons because they keep better conditioned. And on the other hand, the longer their careers last, the better chance they'll have of moving to a new team at the end. There's many different ways one could analyze it. If someone wants to pick up the baton, go for it...

  172. Johnny Twisto,

    Those number may not be a fair measure, simply because they don't take into account why a player might have moved. Try breaking it down further, into traded/released, and awarded/chose free agency.

    Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb only moved at the end because they were released in the wake of a potential scandal. After they were cleared, their teams had already moved on, in preparation for the new season.

    Both players were declared free to sign with whomever they wanted. Cobb chose Philly; Speaker went to Washington (then was released again, at the end of that season, and also ended up with the Mackmen).

    Of course, Speaker had already moved one other time previous to his release by Cleveland. He was traded, from Boston to the Tribe.

    So, you can't declare what their wishes were, in either case. Both might have stayed (Speaker in Boston/Cobb in Detroit) had they been able to make their own choices.

    Even in free agency, it is often the team that pushes the player away.

  173. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Jeff, you're right, though I don't think the people who get all up in arms about "one-team players" care much about the reasons WHY some players change teams. They're just sure it hardly happens anymore.

    Incidentally, the 1928 A's team you reference is an interesting one, featuring seven future HOFers. Cobb and Speaker (and Eddie Collins) were of course at the end of their careers, Jimmie Foxx was at the beginning of his, and Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, and Lefty Grove were right in their prime, ready to lead the A's to the next three pennants and two championships (albeit without Cobb and Speaker, and very little help from Collins).

  174. I'm not so sure about that, as far as the "whys" are concerned.

    Ever hear the story about the Boston cab driver and Harry Frazee, after the cabbie found out who his fare was (the man who sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees)?

    And then punched him out.

    We all have our stories about how P.O'd we were/still are, at a player being forced out or traded, against his wishes.

    True dat, however, about the '27-'28 A's. Collins retired after just a few at bats in 1930. He had been playing a backup role for the previous two season, behind ol' "Camera Eye," Max Bishop.

    The A's actually won more games from 1927-'32 than the Yankees.

  175. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The cabbie was angry his team no longer had Babe Ruth, not that Ruth had played for more than one team.

  176. But the "why" (to raise money, so he could mount a broadway play) may be why (we'll never know, for sure)the cabbie punched Frazee, which was my point about caring. For Frazee, it was all about money. Nothing more.

    Perception matters. There is usually never as much animosity towards the player in question, when it's the team's decision to move him.

    Had free agency as we know it today been in existence, and Ruth walked, the Babe surely would have taken the hit (though maybe not in the literal sense that Frazee did).

    Mariners' fans mostly hated on management, when the club moved Randy Johnson. Management had always been viewed as a bunch of cheapskates.

    Johnson had the M's over a barrel, with his impending free agency looming. But he largely won the P.R. debate, as evidenced by the wildly-enthusiastic greeting he received when he returned with his new club. He was also invited back to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day this season.

    When A-Rod left of his own accord, he bore the brunt of the rage. Both cases were about money. Johnson was viewed as forced out; A-Rod was seen as a money-grubber.

    A-Rod will never get the "welcome back" that Randy got.

  177. Fireworks Says:

    Good/terrible thread. Wish I hadn't missed it.

    Whether or not Steinbrenner is HOF-worthy is entirely dependant upon whether you wish to keep him out for his transgressions (participating in collusion, Winfield [though I don't care about that Nixon stuff and don't think it's very relevant]), and though I am a Yankees fan, I'm not sure how I feel about him being in the Hall. I'd probably lean toward induction.

    As for the rest of the talk about The Evil Empire and the "good ol' days," I find it all hilarious. All Steinbrenner did was take advantage of the system available to him. He'd be a damned fool not to do so. I agree with a lot of the other intelligent points made here.

    Baseball is a sport that is a business, Congress' dumbass determination notwithstanding. The fan is a consumer--a consumer of entertainment--and has a myriad of sports and teams from which to choose due to the packages offered by cable and satellite systems, as well as other entertainment options to attend live. That sports leagues have monopolies over their local market doesn't make the fan any less of a consumer. No one in the New York area is forced to attend a game at Yankee Stadium, or a baseball game at all.

    The idea that there should be no free agency as some sort of nostalgic nod to fans is, dare I receive the wrath of the mods, stupid. The book "Lords of the Realm" is a great read about the history of labor negotiations in baseball, and I was a wiser and less naive fan for reading it. There was never a "golden era" of owner-player labor balance. The owners had the upper hand and now the players have the upper hand. Both are bad; most appropriately there would be a balance between owner power and player power.

    After reading a book like "Lords of the Realm" I don't care if Selig is commish or not based upon him being a former owner--the previous commissioners were always the owners' man, and after the mistake they made with Landis' lifetime contract, the owners always tried to keep the current commissioner close at hand, like a pet. And occasionally that commissioner would bite and get himself sent to the pound (fired, if you don't get the analogy). In fact, because the players union generally stood as a united front and the owners have somewhat disparate priorities, every time the commissioner would intervene in labor negotiations in the "best interest of baseball," he'd basically just cause the owners to lose solidarity. In short, in addition to their own greed and infighting, previous commissioners are partly responsible for the current power the player's union wields, and thus the escalation in salaries.

    I've rambled a bit now so I'll just echo what someone said earlier, which is my personal best real-world solution for the current economic inequities (which have *always* existed. They just weren't always as easy to identify because overall revenues and player salaries were less), and that's a soft (or hard) salary floor, a soft (but extremely punitive) salary ceiling, and a couple exemptions that promote players staying with their current team.

    I've probably missed out on a couple things I wanted to say, and I probably should have formatted this better, but I'm late to the discussion and not many are going to read this anyway :)

  178. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Fans are idiots. Randy Johnson sulked and pitched like crap until the Mariners traded him. Ken Griffey essentially forced his way out of town, while only accepting a trade to one team so he could be (not at all) close to home. Mariners fans love them. Alex Rodriguez was the most highly coveted free agent ever but received a pretty insulting offer from Seattle. Mariners fans hate him. People can root for and against whoever they like and it's not always based on logic, but that has never made any sense to me.

  179. Personally, I would agree with you about Johnson and Griffey.

    If I recall correctly, the M's did reportedly offer A-Rod almost the same money per year, but for five years instead of 10 (what the Rangers offered).

    The M's shorter offer also had the potential upside (for A-Rod) of giving him free agency at the age of 29.

  180. Johnny Twisto Says:

    OK, my recollection was that the Seattle offer was fewer years and a lot lower salary, but I didn't bother to check. Anyway, the Rangers contract had the opt-out, so he got the security of the long-term plus the opportunity to become a FA again when he was 31 (as he did).

  181. In rechecking the available info (through you are probably closer to the truth, as it turns out (though I'm likely closer to senility).

    It seems the M's best offer was a $117.5-million, eight-year, extension.

    Still, it ain't chump change. And his explanation that the Rangers were a legitimately competitive franchise lent an air of absurdity to the whole affair.

    If anything, the money that Tom Hicks poured into the deal (at the expense of every other area of the franchsise -- like pitching) made them even less so.

  182. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Of course it ain't chump change. The league minimum is a nice salary, but it would be ridiculous for Rodriguez to accept that. He was the best player in the game and only 24 years old. He absolutely deserved to get the biggest contract ever. Maybe he would have stayed in Seattle if the offers were close. Texas blew it out of the water. It's pretty hard to prefer less than half as much money.

    And blaming Rodriguez's contract for the Rangers' failures is absurd. The very next season they gave a $65M contract to a pitcher. Unfortunately it was Chan Ho Park, and he was terrible. They spent more than the rest of the division even if you subtract A-Rod's salary. A-Rod was money well-spent. The rest of the payroll was not so well-spent.

  183. Matt Young Says:

    Certainly different games and different mediums of communication, but what a contrasts in styles ----gasbags like Sterling and Kay, and class and elegance of Sheppard.

  184. No one is talking minimum salary here.

    Eight years, $117.5-million, is more than fair for a 24-year-old ballplayer. To infer anything different is to dine at the table with the likes of Latrell ("got my family to feed") Sprewell and Patrick ("But we spend a lot") Ewing.

    Maybe if Hicks had balanced his spending a little more, he would have enjoyed better results.

    I won't argue against A-Rod's being tabbed as the best player, and deserving fair comp. But, how early in a player's career do you want to annoint him as the highest-paid player in the game's history? What do you then (have to?) do for an encore?

    With the salary structure in baseball already so out of whack that three-quarters of all teams couldn't even afford a ticket to get into the ballpark range of Hicks' offer to A-Rod, what logic was there in escalating the salary structure that much? That early in A-Rod's career.

    What's wrong with giving A-Rod a shorter (solid, yet competitive with market rates) deal, and let him continue to show what he could do? Then, at age 29-30, at what would be expected to be the peak of his earning potential, give him the blockbuster mega-deal.

    At age 24, though, a little bit of cost containment might still be in order.

    If the goal is to win -- and owners have to be measured by the results of their spending -- then Hicks flat-out fails. Hicks' maneuverings improved the club by exactly two wins. They went from 71 in 2000 to 73, the most games the A-Rod-led Rangers won in his three seasons there.

    Hicks finally admitted to his mistake when he was forced to trade A-Rod. He couldn't afford the contract, and it was costing the club when it came to (finally) trying to find the pitching help it so-badly needed.

    Even then, there were no more than two or three clubs that were willing to get in on the trade talks. The potential deal with Boston -- for Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester -- was nixed by the MLBPA, because it called for a voluntary salary reduction on A-Rod's part (horrors!).

    A-Rod was making too much money, even for the Red Sox to be comfortable with spending. That left just one club: the Yankees.

    When a player's salary is so high that only one team out of 30 can (or, is willing to) afford him, what does that say?

    Hicks should have spent the money on pitching from the start. True, the Rangers had slipped to just slightly below average in runs scored in 2000. But they were dead last in pitching, by a substantial margin (a quarter of a run per game worse than the Royals).

    Hicks was not addressing the club's biggest need when he signed A-Rod. Interestingly, they jumped from 71 wins to 89 after they dealt him. Even at their worst since Rodriguez left for New York (2007 -- 75-87), the Rangers have been better.

  185. Matt Young,

    Is there any avenue for Bob Sheppard to make the Hall? I'd surely rather vote for Bob than George. 😀

  186. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Giving the blockbuster deals when players are 29-30 is why so many blockbuster deals end up looking terrible. Most players, even the great ones, are declining from age 29 to 35 or whatever. A-Rod reaching free agency at 24 was the perfect storm. He was already the best player in the game, except maybe for Bonds, and he was quite likely to maintain his performance -- and possibly even improve -- over the next several years. He didn't have anything to prove.

    If Hicks couldn't afford the contract, then he's an idiot for offering it. A-Rod shouldn't be blamed for that. And as I said, the Rangers spent more on the REST of their roster than the rest of the division spent on their entire teams. So one cannot argue A-Rod's contract prevented the Rangers from winning. They were spending plenty of money on the rest of the team. A-Rod also can't be blamed if that money is not being spent intelligently. He lived up to his contract.

    As for only the Yankees being able to afford A-Rod, they were only paying him $16M/year after the trade. The Rangers were still paying the rest. Any team that claims they couldn't afford to pay a player of his caliber $16M is simply lying, par for the course for Selig and his minions.

  187. Johnny Twisto Says:

    As for the poor choices made in giving big long-term deals to free agents past their prime, look at the performances of the highest paid player in the NL over several recent seasons:

    2001: K. Brown, 15.7M -- 116 IP (albeit very good ones)
    2002: K. Brown, 15.7M -- 64 IP
    2003: M. Vaughn, 17.2M -- 27 games
    2005: B. Bonds, 22.0M -- 14 games
    2006: J. Bagwell, 19.3M -- Did not play

    Kinda makes $16M for A-Rod's 2007 MVP look like a bargain.

  188. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Incidentally, amid all the shock and consternation over A-Rod's big contract in 2001, I actually thought it could turn out to be a good thing for salary control, in a way. Over the previous decade-plus, guys kept signing bigger contracts, setting new records for highest average salary -- Puckett, Mattingly, Sandberg, Belle, etc. And almost all these guys would not perform as well after signing the big deal. So when the next big name would be eligible for free agency, he could easily point at Player X and say "Well look, he's only batting .250 and making $5M a year. I bat .320, I should get more than him." And so a new Biggest Contract Ever would be signed. But no one had ever reached free agency with A-Rod's combination of youth and talent. It was very unlikely that in two, three, four years he would decline. He would probably still arguably be the best player around, so no future players would be able to point at him and say "A-Rod's making $25M and only batting .250. I bat .320, so I should get $30M." And indeed his contract has served as a sort of unofficial cap on any one player's earnings. Except for his own new contract, which will be far more difficult for him to live up to...

  189. Johnny Twisto,

    I've assumed from what I've read over the years that a player's potential peak years are the 28-32 range, then they begin to taper off (at various paces).

    Scott Boras is likely as much to blame as Hicks in all this. True, it's Boras' job to get his players as much money as possible. But would he have actually held A-Rod out, if the Rangers had not made that offer?

    It was a perfect storm, in terms of A-Rod's meteoric climb, combined with his free agency. How much is too much, though?

    What's right and fair? Is it as much as only the richest can/are willing to pay? Or something that we can all live comfortably with?

    Whether or not more owners than those who came forward can afford it is irrelavent. Why can't we have a little fiscal discipline? Unrestrained spending is why we are in this mess, to begin with, and why so many people are so opposed to the positive spin on Steinbrenner's legacy.

    I don't want to wind up paying $50 for bleacher seats some day, just so the salary escalation can continue.

  190. Johnny Twisto,

    "Kinda makes $16M for A-Rod's 2007 MVP look like a bargain."

    A bargain for the Yankees, perhaps. How much are the Rangers still paying (you implied that they are still paying part of the contract)? It's not too much of a bargain for them.

    And how unfair is it, that the richest team in all of baseball can still get the Rangers to pay for part of that contract?

  191. Peak years are historically 27-29 although steroids et al messed with that to a certain degree. I suspect the peak age will be below 30 going forward.

  192. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The Rangers are not paying anymore. Once Rodriguez opted out and then signed a new contract (after 2007?), the Rangers were off the hook.

    I sincerely doubt anyone with the Yankees held a gun to Tom Hicks's head (though I never trust that Randy Levine....). "Unfair"? If the Rangers feel like shattering contract records, and then three years later decide they have to be rid of it so badly they are willing to pay more than a third of the remaining contract for him to play somewhere else, we're supposed to feel sorry for them? The guys writing the checks are the ones asking for fiscal discipline. It's hilarious.

    And not to start that argument all over again, but A-Rod's contract has nothing to do with the price of bleacher seats. The willingness of fans to pay for bleacher seats affects the price of bleacher seats. If no one will pay $50, they won't cost $50.

  193. Matt Young Says:

    I must say it's not that simple. Yes, fans will pay more, and it's also their fault, but salary escalation has also been the cause to a degree for the higher ticket prices. These are not mutually exclusive. It also depends on what team we're talking about to a degree.

  194. Matt Young Says:

    I think announcers can clearly go into the Hall, but I'm not sure that a stadium announcer would. Perhaps. He'd be an easier vote for than Steinbrenner.

  195. Andy,

    Don't you think that the peak trajectory might stay a little higher, since there is now so much attention paid to conditioning (in-season, as well as year-round), and healtier choices?