One of the reasons Major League Baseball has credibility issues—even in the Oscar-nominated film The Big Short, one of the main characters comments on baseball’s fraudulent existence in comparison to Wall Street—is the lack of a salary cap. When one team spends $70.8 million on its starting rotation alone, it should beat a team that is spending $86 million on its whole roster put together.
Therein lies the fundamental failure—along the lack of integrity to permanently ban all performance-enhancing drug users forever—of the Bud Selig Era in baseball history: no salary cap. The ruinous effects of Selig’s greed (for that’s what you get when you replace the commissioner with an owner) were on display this week in Detroit, where the host Tigers and their Top 4 payroll took three of four games from the Oakland Athletics and their Bottom 5 payroll.
Detroit’s $71M rotation took on Oakland’s $8M rotation, and the result was a slaughter: The Tigers outscored the A’s overall, 24-15, as Oakland starting pitchers combined to give up 17 runs in only 16 1/3 innings, while Detroit starters gave up just 11 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings Yes, it sure is nice when you have a modern ballpark and a lucrative television contract to fund your roster: The A’s have neither, mostly because of Selig and current commissioner Rob Manfred.
Through the wisdom and innovation of front office executives, however, we all know Oakland has remained relatively competitive despite the ongoing disparity of spending on the field—winning six American League West Division titles since 2000 and making the postseason two other times as a wild-card team. Meanwhile, there’s a team across the Bay that is fifth in overall payroll this year and still complains about the top-spending team because it happens to be a historical rival.
Yes, baseball is broken, and we haven’t discussed the PED issue today at all. With the pathetic nature of bandwagon fans today tossed into the equation, how is a team like the A’s supposed to survive in this modern MLB climate? We all know Oakland could spend more money on its roster, but it’s also a business being run by smart business minds. The owners are trying to make a profit, and they have that right to do so when being handcuffed by the commissioner’s office and laughable, antiquated legislation in attempts to reap more profits.
In truth, it’s amazing to think that the A’s still have fans, when so many bandwagon East Bay residents have abandoned them in recent years to go root for the team in the fancy, trendy ballpark across the Bay, with its PED-infused home-run records and recent sudden success on the field out of nowhere just after that PED-infused record made the team a ton of money from fans that didn’t care about integrity—while Selig looked the other way himself, basically enabling the PED use and letting the team profit from cheating to fund its newfound success.
Is that what baseball has come to? The same ethics and morals that Wall Street represent? That’s a shame, to be sure, if so. Baseball used to represent America, or so MLB told us just a few weeks ago on Jackie Robinson Day. Now all baseball embodies, really, is more of the same greed that has dominated the nation since the Baby Boomer generation came of age. The A’s and their fans suffer because of it, like low-income Americans without a chance at class mobility, through no fault of their own.
The system is broken; MLB is broken. It’s hard to ask Oakland to keep supporting such a system when all it does is benefit teams in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Detroit. Why should the poor continue to support the schemes of the wealthy? Yes, MLB is truly the nation’s pastime, still—for better or for worse, sadly.