When the Philadelphia Phillies lost the World Series to the New York Yankees last night, I felt anger, heartbreak, frustration and the burning desire for a salary cap in Major League Baseball. Of course, I’m happy for those who saw their team win the World Series. But in the 108 years that the Yankees have been around, they’ve won the World Series a whopping 27 times. That’s right: 25 percent of the time. And in the 126 years that the Phillies have been around, they’ve won twice. Yep, two percent of the time (rounded up).
And that’s no mistake. In the past decades (and the foreseeable future) the Yanks have held a crushing financial advantage over all other major league franchises. This year, for example, the Yankees spent $208 million on player salaries, more than $60 million more than the second highest-paid team (The Mets) and nearly what the Phillies spent on their payroll ($111 million). A-Rod alone made $33 million this year, nearly a third of the entire Phillies payroll.
Baseball needs a salary cap. Think of it like campaign finance reform in politics. If the world’s richest donors could shovel all their cash to a single candidate, that person would flood the market with advertising and crush his or her opponent. But the government has deemed this unfair because it elevates the influence of rich voters above poor voters. Without a salary cap, the MLB elevates the hopes of fans in rich cities over fans in poor cities. Baseball is supposed to be about home team rivalries and anxious competition, not the size of each team’s checkbook. Forgoing a salary cap allows rich teams like the Yankees to swallow up promising talent when it matures, which is too un-American for America’s favorite past time.