The big teams like the Yankees and Dodgers bite their tongues and pay their revenue sharing money out to the Pirates and Royals of the world because, well, that’s the system we have. They may not bite their tongues much longer, though, because they really, really don’t like paying a large-market team like the Nationals — which Forbes Magazine rates as the second most profitable team in baseball — that kind of scratch. Tom Boswell:
As Washington’s obvious promise has been thwarted by its gruesome
won-lost reality, resentment toward the way the Nats do business,
already prevalent in Washington, is now spreading through the game . . . “You’re probably going to see revenue-sharing reform pretty soon,” an
American League executive said. “It’s usually small-market teams like
Pittsburgh that are the issue” . . . But the Bucs have an excuse: Their metropolitan market — like Denver,
Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and Milwaukee — is less
than half Washington’s size (No. 9 in the United States).
Given the financial disparities in the game, some form of revenue sharing is essential. But a system that rewards a team with huge welfare checks for keeping its payroll lower than its market and revenue would rationally dictate (and losing tons of ballgames in the process) is not a sustainable one.
I suspect that the “revenue-sharing reform” Boswell’s source is talking about would take the form of requiring any teams receiving checks to spend the money on players as opposed to simply pocketing it and declaring a profit like the Nats and Pirates do every year. Such a thing might be hard to implement and could lead to a huge battle between baseball’s high payroll and low payroll teams. It’s a battle worth fighting, however. Because if the high payroll teams win it, more teams will be putting more resources into their product on the field. In that case, we as fans win too.