Salary Cap

The issue of a salary cap is one that has troubled Major League Baseball for over a decade now, dating back to before the labor strike of 1994. It is my belief that a salary cap is necessary for baseball to continue to thrive and profit while maintaining its current league set up.

A salary cap, I believe, is somewhat of a misnomer. A salary cap would serve not to limit how much a player can make. It could more aptly be called a “payroll cap”, since in essence that is what it does; the league would set a maximum payroll restriction that limits the amount of money a team can spend on their players, the idea is that it would give all major league teams the same budget to spend on its players.

Obviously different people involved in this issue are prone to having different opinions relating to the fairness and benefits of implementing a salary cap. There are three main sides that I want to look at regarding the issue. They are the fans of the game, the owners of the franchises, and the major league players.

From everything I was able to find, I would say that fans are slightly divided on the issue, but most are in favor of the salary cap, with somewhere between 60 and 90% of fans supporting a salary cap. I think the average fan is disgusted with the way that the game has been tainted by wealth and greed. Quite simply I don’t think fans have much room in their hearts for sympathy for players earning millions of dollars when that fan can barely afford to take his family to a game and buy them a couple of hot dogs.

The owners are also divided on this issue, even more than the players. What is interesting here is how the owners are divided amongst themselves in terms of market size. Owners whose teams play in larger financial markets (bigger cities) tend to oppose the idea of a salary cap because these are the teams who have the financial resources available that allows them to have a bigger payroll and still be profitable. Teams in larger markets (New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles) get better media contracts because more people watch their games, they tend to sell more merchandise on the national level, and they actually tend to be owned by the owners with the most available money because these are the most expensive franchises to purchase. It is somewhat of an ugly cycle because these teams make the most money, which allows them to spend the most money, giving them the best chance at signing the available free agents, which gives them a better chance of winning. Winning teams are more profitable because the franchise earns even more money to spend as a result of the added revenue they receive from things like playoff tickets and commemorative shirts. This is a pretty big contrast from the situation of the small market owner, whose team does not have the same large media deals and available resources. These teams seldom have the money to pursue the top level players, and as a result have to rely much more heavily upon their development of players in their minor league system. Small market owners are much more likely to be private owners instead of corporations, and do not have the financial resources to back their team in the same way that a multi-million dollar company does. Small market owners tend to be in favor of things like revenue sharing and a salary cap because they are struggling to remain competitive within the current system.

Players obviously tend to be opposed to the idea of a salary cap. Many see it as an obstacle in their making the greatest amount of money possible, and are vehemently opposed to the idea. One big issue is the MLBPA, the Major League Baseball Players Association, which is generally referred to as the “players’ union”. Professional baseball has always had a very strong union when compared to those found in other sports. The strength of this union can not be ignored or underestimated, as it has pushed for and received things like free agency and has also forced work stoppages when they feel threatened,