Cutbacks and Other Band-Aid Requirements

Major League Baseball owners are an interesting breed of animal. I have never seen such a contrary bunch of men in my life. On one hand, they spend money like drunken sailors throwing millions of dollars at players who are mediocre at best. There is no way you can justify the salaries that these players are making but the owners keep besting themselves with each deal. The players of course love it. They find themselves being rewarded beyond their wildest dreams for putting up numbers that would make the players from yesteryear embarrassed and ashamed. The same owners who would give Jose Mesa a 3 year contract for over $7.2 million dollars will turn around and complain about how much money they are losing and that it just isn’t fair. The claim that baseball is not profitable for them and that they need a new stadium or they need to raise ticket prices if they wish to stay competitive. The Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves in just such a situation. First, their payroll is well over $80 million and may of those making the most money are not producing. Second, after good ticket sales the first season, the Diamondbacks have seen their fan base shrink each successive year. Some of this is due to the novelty wearing off, some is due to a lack of marketing or poor marketing. People have only a finite number of entertainment dollars to spend. The Diamondbacks need to find a way to entice more of them to spend them at Bank One Ballpark. Over the past three years, I have seen the same promotions done time and time again. People are looking for something fresh and new, not the same tired ideas re-used over and over. Third, their organization has changed and their skill sets must change as well. At first, they were a new franchise very similar to a start-up company. They needed people and positions associated with building up a company and an organization. Now though, they are an established firm and as such, they need different skills and positions to sustain the organization. So for the Diamondbacks to announce they were laying off workers should not have been unexpected.

All of this though is skirting the real problem. There are severe economic disparities within baseball and the chasm is widening. Something needs to be done to solidify the financial status of baseball if it is to survive. We have all heard that the existing labor agreement will be over after next season. We are also being warned that there will be another labor stoppage should ownership attempt to institute some form of salary restraint. Someone needs to get the owners and players in a room and make them understand what reality is really like. I can tell you right now that things have got to change and they need to without a strike. I am not sure fans will be willing to accept another lock-out or strike without dire consequences. If clubs think they are losing money now, just wait until fans quit coming to the games because they are fed up with millionaires fighting with millionaires.

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