The Teixeira Backlash Begins

The news that Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees on Tuesday was surprising, but some of the reaction to it was easily anticipated. The Yankees are buying a pennant! There's too much economic inequality in baseball! Athletics Nation's response is indicative of that viewpoint.

Still, I'll just argue that I still think baseball needs a salary cap.  It will never happen, but I love what it's done for other sports like hockey and football.  Yes, you can still have dynasties emerge, but it seems like everyone has a chance.  Everyone will use the Tampa example of a team that is in a horrid market that has risen from the ashes.  The problem is that it took the Rays years and years of wallowing in those ashes and getting tons of remarkably good draft picks in order for them to do their phoenix impression.

You'll notice that basketball, which has had a salary cap longer than either football or hockey, doesn't appear in the argument for a cap. Perhaps that's because a grand total of seven teams have won NBA titles since 1984-85, when the system came into place. Contrast that with the last eight World Series, which have been won by seven different teams. Since basketball went to a cap, 17 different baseball teams have won titles.

Clearly, there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. The complaint is that it doesn't seem like everyone has a chance, but the reality is far different. Teixeira doesn't mean the Yankees will win even one AL title, just as A-Rod didn't guarantee anything. They've spent vast amounts of money for years, but none of those last seven teams to win plays in New York.

What would you have the Yankees do? They generate massive amounts of revenue from various streams, including exorbitant ticket prices, and then they reinvest that money into their business. That's their advantage over their competition in baseball, and not using it would be insane. You can argue that it isn't fair, but you could count on one hand the amount of things that are.   

Would it really be a better thing if the Yankees just pocketed their revenues and didn't invest them in their product? Cry if you like about teams in Minnesota or elsewhere, but they regularly post larger profit margins than the Yankees. All of this financial talk just obscures the fact that building around talent developed other places isn't the best way to create a team.

Look at the number of good young players who have been signed long-term over the last few years and you'll see that there's, finally, a reaction to free agency. When other teams realize that they don't have to just hand over talent to the open market, it makes it infinitely harder for teams that rely on outside sources. The Yankees got lucky this season that two, grade-A, 28-year-old talents hit the market, but that won't keep happening. Which means they'll need to adapt or baseball will continue crowning other teams in October.

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