Monday, January 12, 2009

a positive to the Yankees' spending?

Before you laugh off the headline and remove your link to this blog - give this a moment's thought.

Every sports fan, baseball or otherwise, has definite thoughts about the significant spending spree of the Yankees over the past few weeks. So far this off-season, they have spent more than the value of some pro sports franchises on 3 players. Some argue that the front office is doing all it can to produce a winner for this year and beyond, which is more than certain teams seem to attempt. Others argue that this over-spending is driving up costs to the point that we will all be priced out of going to sports events in person, even once or twice per year, at this rate.

I'm all for a team to outbid another for a particular player, but this is insane. Yet, I see one positive about what the Yankees have done, and for all I know, are still doing when it comes to free agents.

One of the overlooked methods the players used to create their outrageously high salaries was the baseball collusion lawsuit, which they were able to prove. Ever since, the owners have been more or less forced to overspend on players.

Well, now the Yankees have signed two players for amounts among the highest paid ever at their positions. So as far as I'm concerned, the rest of the free agents out there don't have to get anywhere near what they think they should.

The Yanks have, in effect, made it possible, for the other teams to hold the line on additional spending. Maybe even to dump off some of the huge salaries they are stuck with. This is the year they can do it.

Why? Because based on the Yankees' payroll, there is no way these greedy players could win another collusion suit. The "average" MLB has already gone out of sight higher than ever, even though more free agents remain unsigned than signed for the upcoming season (as of this writing).

The other owners don't have to get silly this year. Let's hope they heed this advice.

If they don't, and continue to raise ticket prices and the overall cost of being a fan to the point of no return, they are risking damage with fan relations for the future.

After the owners gave up in 1996 and rendered the strike in 1994 meaningless by caving in to the players outrageous demands, I made a half serious + half in jest comment:

Come spring training, I would review the rosters, past performance, upcoming projections, farm system, stadium, and attendance histories of all of the MLB teams. I would use this to determine which team I would root for during the upcoming season.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Choosing fandom based on a bunch of statistics and intangibles?

But it isn't. Never was. That's how the players look at us as fans. The players don't give it back or accept a hefty pay cut when they don't achieve the expected statistical level. They expect us to buy game tickets based on a projected first place finish. If the team comes in 4th place, we don't get any of our ticket money back.

Now, thanks to the Yankees, the owners can collectively not spend one more dime on free agents and increasing existing contracts. The Yankees have already raised the average salary level another notch. No need for the other teams to further this along.

This is the remaining owners' collective chance to hold the line on the cost of free agents. The players wouldn't have a leg to stand on if they want to cry collusion, based on the rise of average salary no matter what else happens.

As a fan, I would like to look at it like this. If "my" team gets rid of $10,000,000 of salary for the coming season, and is expected to draw 2,500,000 in attendance for the season, they should then lower all ticket prices by $4 each. The team "savings" get passed along to the paying customers, as it should be. If "my" team saves me enough money, and performs at or above expections during the season, I could reward them by attending one or more additional games.

C'mon 29 owners. This is your chance!

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