Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oligarchy and MLB

It doesn't matter who the opponent is, I have to oppose the Yankees every year in the post-season because they simply aren't good for baseball. It's not enough to say the Yankees simply buy their championships - for in many ways, all teams are seeking the same goal. But the Yankees symbolize something far more serious, far more sinister.

The Yankees represent oligarchy - rule by a dominant, wealthy elite. They marginalize the common man, blue collar, raise-yourself-up by your bootstraps spirit that is integral to America's game. Walt Whitman once said, "I see great things in baseball." This man of the people would be nauseated by the undemocratic spirit of the game today.

Granted, success by smaller market/payroll teams like the Twins and the Rockies and the A's are testament to a degree of parity. And Michael Lewis effectively argued this in his excellent baseball treatise Moneyball. But they are the exceptions, not the rule. The Yankees' dominance is the rule, and the size of their market and their exclusive TV rights and their merchandizing and their payroll rule the post-season year after year.

MLB can and should learn a lot from the NFL, and I still can't fathom why the bottom 2/3 of MLB teams that never compete simply don't demand some parity and revenue sharing in a market that depends on them. It seems logical that the next time the contract comes up, the owners in Colorado and Kansas City and Toronto and Oakland and Pittsburgh and the others should simply say "No. We are not going forward and we will not play in a league where the Yankees can always outbid us for players we have brought up through effective farm systems and skilled management."

Let the Yankees go play with themselves.

No comments: