Monday, December 15, 2008

Who is worse for baseball: Yankees or Padres?

This topic was not my creation. I caught a bit of the MLB Home Plate morning show on XM radio (channel 175) on my way into work today. Admittedly, I am just getting into this as I recently switched from Sirius to XM*. The chatter of the day was the question: Which team is worse for baseball, the Yanks or the Padres.

* Pos-like aside: I had a Sirius unit installed when I got my car in 2005, even though XM came pre-installed. I just liked the music selections better. Now that programming is almost identical, I switched to XM (better signal strength, cheaper with my wife having XM too) which gave me access to MLB Home Plate (all baseball, all the time) and will eventually give me radio access to every game for every team. I'm getting into the discussions a bit.

The easy answer to the above question is the Yanks due to their payroll and spending. They are flaunting their money while most teams are cutting back, shedding office staff, etc. They are routinely the highest payroll with very little to show for it the last few years.

Then there are the Padres. They are slashing payroll to something in the neighborhood of $40m. No player is untradable. Heck, they let legend Trevor Hoffman go and maybe you heard that they are trying to unload Peavy. Their owner, John Moores, is going thru a divorce that threatens his ability to own the team. The team has no chance to be competitive for many years, unless they can get the bounty they are looking for to deal Peavy...and even then, it might take several years.

So what's worse for the "game of baseball"? A team that overspends or a team that underspends?

I'm not so biased that I can't see that many of the things the Yanks are doing aren't good for the name of "competitive balance", but there's nothing against the rules of spending. And, as of now, they will be bringing their payroll down in 2009, even if they go and add Teixeira after Sabathia and Burnett. Sure, it looks ugly when they do it because it's so over the top. Did the Yanks really need to tack on the extra year for both Burnett and Sabathia? Well, yes. The cost of not getting these guys was greater than the risk of getting them. Sure there is risk in both pitchers' arms and bodies. But if the Yanks have to eat the last few years of either/both contract, that's a pittance in their overall operating budget. If you dropped a $20 bill and lost it, you'd be angry at yourself but you wouldn't have to change your lifestyle. If the Yanks have to eat the last two years of each contract, so be it.

Except MLB, across the board, is better off when the Yanks are doing well. The team drives attendance everywhere they go. They pay a ton of money to other teams via revenue sharing and luxury tax payments. HUGE amounts of money. It's one thing to spend like a madman, it's entirely something else when you are paying an extra 40% on those binges to give to their competition. Hating the Yanks is good for business.

And not for nothing, MLB has to be the only business where outsiders (you, me, the fans) are pro-Management instead of pro-Labor. Just saying... Would you want GM to push the hourly rates for their workers down so their management could make more money? No, you want labor to get what they can for putting the product on the road (or field, as the case should be).

Now, the Padres have summarily sandbagged their fans' hope for the 2009 season and at least the next few years. They will not have a Rays-like resurgence, which was the result of many, many years of sub-basement performance which resulted in a bevy of top-of-the-draft players finally maturing at once. The Padres, if not sold to an owner who is committed to spending, will be terrible for the foreseeable future. I wish this wasn't so, but it it is. They weaken the competition for the NL West teams, giving an unfair advantage to the Dodgers and D'backs, who already get to feast on the Giants and Rockies. Post that against the backdrop of the NL East featuring the Braves, Mets and Champion Phillies.

The Padres do not drive attendance. They will absorb revenue sharing/luxury tax receipts with nothing to show for in terms of on-field talent. They are shafting their fans who will pay full price for a AAAA team. And that's a vicious circle they've created. Fewer fans will come, lowering their revenue base, which will, in turn, lower they spending further.

The Yanks will have over 4 million fans come to their new Cathedral, which they helped pay for, like it or not. Seating prices will be crazy, as will concessions. Parking was already silly (but at least there will be a MetroNorth stop for Westchester residents like me). But at least we know we have ownership who is committed to putting their money where their gaping mouths are. It comes off as obnoxious and offensive because it is. But don't forget that their payroll will be lower than last year despite moving into TNYS. And by lower, I mean that it will still be the highest in the game.

What's worse? The ownership who overspends or the ownership that underspends? Worse to thumb your nose at the issues affecting everyone else or to thumb your nose at your singular fan base?


Ron Rollins said...

I vote for the Yankess. Can I vote multiple times?

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Yes, Ron, leave an extra dollar in the tip jar first.

Alex K said...

My general feeling is that neither is terrible for baseball as a whole. But if you put a gun to my head I would say the Padres because attendance is going to most likely be down this year anyway due to the economy. Now the good people of San Diego have NO reason to pay for a Padres game since it's going to be AAAA baseball everyday.

Steve said...

Easily the worst thing a team/ownership can do is purposely restrict funds or just plain put mediocre AAAA type players out on the field and expect fans to pay to watch. Teams like the Padres and Pirates are very guilty of this.
What the Yankees do while bordering on insanity(Kei friggin Igwa for example) at times, does ensure that from a business standpoint, that they are committed to putting a winning and entertaining(and yes even a profitable) product out on the field 162 times a season.
Is it at the detriment of other teams? Probably not as the Marlins have 2 WS championship in the past 15 seasons and the Rays and Rockies both played in the WS the past 2 seasons.

EEIE5 said...

As a life long (and I've been around for a bit) Yankee fan, WE have come to understand that winning means the WS only. We don't display Divisional Banners or League Banners. Just 26 WS banners. The reality is that most of us didn't pay for tickets a few years back (someone always made them available) or back further we didn't get 4,000,000 so there were always seats there to buy, most at reasonable prices. Now none of us buys seats, just those who can or the Corps. We get the occasional freebe or we watch it on tv or in my case on Slingblade because I now live in SD. I have this actual perspective living here.

When the Padres made the playoffs there were LOTS of seats unsold. They don't understand how to be fans and they don't understand loyalty! They live to get the Yankees $$$$$. Can you imagine walking up to the Stadium box office on a playoff game day and having a choice of seats at actual cost!

I could care less how much we pay to get talent! I could care less what those who live on restricted budgets have to deal with, with us as competition! I only care that we try to put the best possable team out there TO WIN!

I hope all our young pitchers and position players mature and take their place as winning Yankees. Those who can't or those who go in trades or those who have to wait for their opening have to learn that this is NY, the big stage and this is the way it is. It will never change; never has never will!

Jason @ IIATMS said...

EEIE5 is not a socialist.

EEIE5 said...

"I remind me of me"