Recent New York Times and Fox reports chronicle the demise of Major League Baseball ratings. There is only one logical conclusion-the elimination of revenue sharing and a return to the survival of the fittest.
Even though MLB is certainly financially sound, as the world changes, this problem only picks up speed as it rolls down hill. In today’s society, the suggestion is that baseball just isn’t as cool as football or basketball. There are too many games. When the playoffs roll around, football tops baseball because every game is an elimination game.
But the real problem was revealed in the second half of Jim Gray’s interview on Fox this past weekend. As baseball increased from 16 to 30 teams, many small markets got their chance. The problem is, big market fans don’t care about small market teams.
It’s time to admit that the root of the problem came with the revenue sharing plan. For all of its good intentions, the plan is destructive and just plain wrong. Here is why. When you buy a ticket to a New York Yankees game, you don’t do it to support any small market team. It doesn’t matter what it says on the back of the ticket in small print, you’re a Yankees fan. You probably just don’t care what the Tampa Bay Rays do in the playoffs.
You spend your money to support the Yankees. Okay, the revenue sharing primarily has to do with advertising revenue. But it’s all related. A fan sees a commercial about the Yankees, or about a business that supports the Yankees, and it encourages him to see a game or go to that business and spend his money.
A small market city that has a full stadium when the team is winning, but a near empty stadium when it is losing, does not deserve to have a team. Why should it be subsidized?
Imagine if McDonald’s was forced to give money to Burger King or Wendy’s (or conversely) just because McDonalds has more customers. Taking it a step farther, it’s just not fair that a Jaguar is more prestigious and expensive than a Kia, so let’s give Kia some of Jaguar’s money. That’s the logic, or lunacy, behind revenue sharing.
The fallacy is the claim that MLB is one big business with “franchises.” They are not really franchises, they are separate businesses. If you don’t believe that, ask any Yankees, Dodgers or Red Sox fan which they would rather go see- their own team or some small market team.
Give the Yankees back their money, they earned it and deserve it.