But here's a tough question - why is that Tampa Bay's problem?
With support and excitement for the team at an all-time high, one could argue the team's struggle to balance competitive and financial issues isn't a product of the market...but of Major League Baseball's business plan.
As the leaked documents showed us - especially in the case of the cash-rich Pirates and Marlins - the revenue-sharing system is broken. ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a high-ranking executive:
"We're sharing $450 million and very little of it is going to competitive balance. We need to get back to the original goal -- to provide enough money for small-market teams to spend an appropriate amount to be competitive."Right now, you have teams like the Rays - very well-run and successful in player-development - that still can't compete in the standings every year because they can't compete on the free agent market.
This is a serious flaw in the game right now.
Whether the problem lies in revenue sharing or the league's inability to reign in the spending of major-market teams, the result is the same - teams like the Rays have no choice but to settle for long-term mediocrity...or plead for public dollars.
That's not the fault of the Rays' front office or its Tampa Bay fan base.
That's the fault of the Yankees, the Red Sox, Major League Baseball, and the mighty MLB Players' Association; all the parties that let the businesses' overhead (player salaries) grow faster than many cities can bear.