More Bud Selig Scare Tactics

Right, Bud. You lie about so much other stuff–including disputing Forbes‘s review of baseball’s likely revenue streams, trying to call them a two-bit rag in the process–and now you want us to believe that two teams won’t survive the 2002 MLB season?

I’m not buying it. I want to see those two teams fold up, and when they do, I want their books exposed in a court of public record and pored over by some accounting firm–but preferably not Arthur Andersen.

Look, I don’t deny that baseball needs some fiscal reform. But that reform is solely on the side of ownership, where I can see that two things will solve the basic problem:

1. Revenue sharing of local funds. Take in all local revenues [TV and radio contracts, ticket sales, concessions, parking, whatever your stadium lease allows]; 50% is yours, 50% goes to MLB. MLB takes the total pool, divides by N teams, and sends it back to you.

2. Salary floor. The salary floor for payroll on the 40-man roster is 1.3 times the value in step 1. above. This forces teams in small markets not to cry foul and keep payrolls low and pocket the revenue sharing money, which surely angers the large-market teams who’ll be forking over a large amount of cash. Even so, 130% of the revenue sharing pool should be something that any team can make and still be above water after all other expenses are made.

The penalty for falling below the salary floor is simple: for every dollar you’re below the floor, you are docked two dollars from your shared revenue apportionment for the current season, and one dollar for the next season. [That way the effects are not just immediate.] The penalty for not reporting local revenues to MLB? Revocation of your franchise.

It’s that simple. Yes, this does some funky things to the marginal costs of winning, and it screws up some of the long-term deals in place, but you know, every fundamental change in sports economics has a shakeout period. The NFL has just now figured out how to make the salary cap work … this system is a damned sight simpler, as you just have to spend enough money and not spend too much.