Thursday, May 29, 2008

Since We're Talking About Mark Cuban . . .

Following up on the Mark Cuban post from this morning, I thought some of you might like to read his thoughts on salary caps, which he posted on his blog the other day:
Can a league survive without a cap ? Yes, but I think it must be a league where it takes more than 1 or 2 players to lead a team to a championship. Otherwise, the richest teams can just buy those 2 players, with a 3rd as insurance, which means the competitive balance of the league is purely dependent on finances. That is not a good position to be in. Baseball and football are 2 leagues that I can think can survive (as baseball has) quite nicely without a cap. The NBA and NHL would struggle competitively without them.
There's a lot of analysis leading up to that conclusion, so please, click through and read it all. I'm kind of a dolt when it comes to capology because you don't need to understand it when all you really care about is baseball, but Cuban seems to make a lot of sense.

When times get tough again for baseball, as they most certainly will, ownership is going to start beating the salary cap drum again. Query: given that Cuban is on record saying salary caps are bad for baseball, is he the kind of guy they're going to want in their club?

I think the answer is no, but based on what I wrote this morning, I don't think they have a choice.


Baseball Savant said...


I wrote about this on my blog in response to your earlier post. If Cuban wants into baseball and the legal course is as you say, then if you are MLB, aren't you better off having Cuban own the Cubs? It's a built in excuse as to why the Cubs would win. Cuban is going to spend money because he certainly has shown a HUGE propensity to reinvest money into his product. He's also shown a great ability to look at a business model, find the market inefficiency and then exploit it.

Given that nature, if it's inevitable that Cuban be a MLB owner, the built in excuse of having one of the most storied franchises in baseball in a huge market with tons of money insulates baseball. If I'm Cuban and really want to bust baseball up, why not buy the Pittsburgh Pirates if possible and do all those things that small market teams aren't supposed to be able to do and cause some havoc?

I could see calling for salary caps when hard times come, but then again after the big A-Rod, Jeter and Ramirez contracts came about, contracts didn't escalate but rather came back down and we heard all about collusion. This could very well happen again as I'm sure the labor union would rather deal with a market correction than a firm cap.

But if I'm baseball and want to keep the illusion of antitrust as it applies to buying/selling teams then it sure does make sense to let Cuban by the Cubs because giving him a small market team like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Oakland or Kansas City could cause a storm.

Pete Toms said...

Cap schmap! Salary caps are awful. And don't think that caps are great for owners and bad for labor. I was surprised to learn earlier this year that the NFL players are garnering a larger % of league revenues than the players.

Justin Zeth said...

Cuban is from the Pittsburgh area and expressed interest in buying the Pirates last year. The Pirates ownership, which is quite content with intentionally fielding losing teams and bagging a very steady, predictable stream of profits, flatly told him no, we're not selling, period.

themarksmith said...

I keep hearing support for player's unions, but I question the validity of "union" for those organizations. Most of those players are not being mistreated or abused in any way, and all professional athletes make more than the average person (unless in the minor leagues) by about 10 X at least. If they aren't smart with their money, then that's their fault. Now the ones who need unions are the retired players who didn't make quite so much money and would have a need for a union.

Craig Calcaterra said...

But themarksmith, what do you think got the modern players the money they make today? It certainly wasn't the kindness and charity of ownership. It was the union who challenged ownership and got the concessions that made the difference. The reason those old guys didn't make much and need help now is because they didn't have a real union to speak of.

And I don't buy the appeal to what the common man is making. That may be an interesting philosophical conversation, but if you're a baseball player, that is irrelevant. All that is relevant is what your labor is worth, and it is totally accurate to say that that a given ballplayer being paid below that amount due to collusion or artificial or anticompetitive labor conditions is being exploited.

themarksmith said...

Yes, I understand what the union has accomplished for the players. The past players actually being underpaid. I was really talking about today's game. Baseball players today don't need a union. They have agents now that do the same job. All the union does now is hide those who use steroids by accepting some test but refusing blood tests that would be more conclusive (a bit cynical, I know).

As for getting market value for the player's "labor". Why do we demonize Scott Boras for getting the market value for his players by using his sometimes questionable tactics, but then applaud the union for defending players' rights? Boras does the same thing as the union but receives different treatment.

As for the common man appeal, I don't think players are exploited even if they don't get "market value" for their "labor". You're using a definition for one item and using it here. A rookie is paid under market value. Do you think Jeff Francoeur would make $400,000 on the market? Someone making $400,000 to play a game is not exploited. If they fail to use their money wisely, then that's their fault. If the players' salaries go down to $50,000 a year, then the union can come back.

Ron Rollins said...

Because Boras is the devil!!!