Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bud Selig's Lasting Legacy: Competitive Inbalance

Many have pointed to taxpayer-funded stadiums as Bud Selig's lasting legacy on the MLB landscape.  But I'd add another legacy: competitive imbalance.

I've written before about how the influx of cash - and the league's inability to share it all among its franchises - has created an unfair system that rewards teams that happen to play in larger cities.

According to the LA Times' Bill Shaikin, Selig blamed Tropicana Field's revenues for failing to keep the Rays competitive.

Sorry Bud - for $35 million and potentially $25 million, respectively, Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon would have left the Rockies, Brewers, or Orioles too.

It's the system, stupid.

Success is not directly related to attendance, or the Rockies, Brewers, and Orioles would have been in a lot more playoff games in the last 20 years.

Selig simply hasn't fostered a culture of sharing revenues to preserve parity in MLB like we see in other leagues.  With somewhere around $9 billion in revenue this year, there is no shortage of profit in baseball - merely a shortage of sharing.

This is not the fault of Tampa Bay - this is the fault of Major League Baseball.

Why didn't the Buccaneers' struggles at the gate affect their payrolls?  And why are small-market basketball and hockey teams from San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Pittsburgh able to thrive?

It's the system, stupid.

Which is why Selig, Sternberg, and everyone else would rather focus the conversation back on the Tampa Bay taxpayers, (whom the league has been profiting off since the early 1990s when several teams used the market as leverage for new stadiums).

Shaikin describes Selig's response yesterday to a straightforward question:
Does Selig consider Tampa Bay a viable major league market?
He paused — a long pause — then declined to answer. He said he prefers to leave that judgment to the owner in each market.
Funny...I seem to remember a lot of opinions from Selig and MLB's richest owners about the Tampa Bay market...

It's the system, stupid.

A brief history of Selig and the Stadium Saga:


  1. I just clicked on the 1995 link - Selig demands stadium subsidies in Milwaukee

    Wow! I did not realize that Namoli was expecting 3 million a season attendance back in 1998 (37,000 per game average). So what is acceptable attendance for Sternberg for the Trop and for stadium to be built later?

  2. It's time for low class st. pete to let the rays leave for Tampa. The rays owe st. pete nothing. Just let them go. St. Pete a low class city with a low class population!!!!

  3. Don't look now but Sternburg is playing the Montreal card again.

  4. "Low class" because they won't shell out precious dollars?
    Hillsboroites must be as "low class" for not getting off their fat butts and - heaven forbid! - actually drive east of Dale Mabry for entertainment! They're staying home in droves also, there's no concrete evidence that will change even if the opportunity is closer.
    Noah, Bud-the-grease's DNA is chock full of "owner" genes,
    he is of them and would not twist their arms to "share" local media revenue or he would have been out on his ugly butt
    years ago. His anointed successor isn't likely to reverse that trend.
    Using the NFL structure is a bit of an apples v. oranges situation, MLB owners feverishly covet their local media revenues. Local NFL media income streams pale in comparison, that's why decades ago Pete Rozelle saw weekly national coverage of the NFL as their cash cow and twisted owners arms to make it so.

  5. St. Pete is far from being "low-class." Low Class St. Pete made the NY Times "Top 50 Places to Visit (in the world)." Tampa, on the other hand, DID NOT.

  6. If we are to have any hope of keeping the Tampa Bay Rays long term, it will take St. Pete and Tampa, and the rest of the Tampa Bay area, all working together - not name calling each other.

    Can't we all just get along?

  7. Rayz aren't going anywhere, no need to "sweetheart" them to potential prosperity. Make 'em sweat.