Why There Is a Lack of Parity in Baseball

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Why There Is a Lack of Parity in Baseball
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People have complained about the lack of parity in basketball. Sure, with all the teams getting "big three" sets, the parity there seems to be low. But those teams have a terrible supporting cast (with the exception of Boston). The Lakers have a great one, but they don't have three megastars eating up the salary cap. 

In baseball, it is much worse.

The Yankees not only have some of the best players in baseball, but they also have huge depth up and down their lineup. And by depth, I mean these players are all All-Star candidates. I am terrified at the thought of them signing Albert Pujols—just imagine their team then.

So people have complained they need a salary cap. People think this will solve everything, but that is not necessarily the case.

The salary cap idea is great, with the Yankees spending $200 million on players annually while some teams don't even spend a fourth of that. So the Yankees naturally have an All-Star lineup. The Phillies also spend around $140 million, and as such have one of the most feared offenses in baseball. There are more examples, but you get the idea.

Money equals success. Thus, the lack of parity.

Well, that last argument does not hold for all teams.

The Detroit Tigers spend a lot, as do the Cubs and Mets. The Tigers have had moderate success, while the Cubs and Mets have been disasters; however, this is an extreme case of a general manager not building his team properly, and in some cases, very bad luck.

There is also the Tampa Bay Rays who were very successful a few years back as were the Marlins, but in most cases, money does equal success. As such, the teams that have been an exception to this rule have had their reasons, but they still have more resources to deploy.

One of the worst arguments is that it would not make a difference if there was a salary cap. Teams would just spend that money on scouting. I ask myself though, would they be able to build such great teams like that? No, you don't need great scouting to pay Teixeira $22 million per year; you just would need the cap space.

Another argument I hear is that teams will need a long time to adjust to the salary cap. After all, lots of salaries don't come off the books for years. That leaves teams with a lot of payroll locked up. If we don't get the ball rolling, though, we will never get it in place.

For reasons of parity, a salary cap is probably needed, but it will not be enough.

Baseball also has problems with the luxury tax. This is money charged to teams who exceed a certain amount of money in player payroll. The percentage that is charged is tiny, so big market teams just consider it the cost of doing business and can easily be paid. To discourage this, the luxury tax percentage should be 100 percent. For every $1 you spend over the threshold, you pay $1 in tax. 

Also, the threshold is too high; it is always over $100 million, and only eight teams had more than $100 million in payroll. In fact, only the Red Sox, Angels, Yankees, and Tigers have paid that tax, yet there are plenty of teams, such as the Mets, that spend a lot. Baseball clearly needs to lower the threshold; $80 million seems reasonable. 

Then there are the teams that receive the luxury tax but just put the money into their owner's pockets. The rule for the luxury tax is that you must spend it improving your team (with stadium or players, possibly other things). This is not done by teams, so MLB  should keep the luxury tax and give it to teams when they want to spend the money.

Furthermore, to expand on the previous topic, the teams should only be given the money to spend on players. If it improves the team's finances, there's no guarantee they'll spend the money in the future instead of making the team more profitable. This causes a huge disparity between rich and poor teams.

Finally, they should consider expanding the playoffs. Certain teams will always find a way to be very competitive, making it extremely difficult for other teams to win the division and make the playoffs.

This is the only major sport that does not have 16 teams making the playoffs. If you play in the tough AL East and your record is decent you should get a playoff shot instead of being told you can only do so if your team is division champ or wild card winner. This helps parity as more teams will make the playoffs and in October and leave it as anyone's guess who will win. 

 

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