Salary caps make poorer teams worse off

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Practically speaking, the idea of a salary cap in baseball is dead. Deader than vaudeville. It blew up the game in 1994-95, and the owners and Selig blinked rather than try it again in 2002.  Since then the money has been flowing, competitive balance has been better than most people will admit, and the owners seem to have very little desire to fight that fight again.  It’s not going to happen.

But that won’t stop some people from calling out for it.  Every time the Yankees sign someone people scream salary cap. Every time a homegrown star leaves a small market team they do the same.  I can assure you, I get at least one comment or email a week from someone that contains a sentiment akin to “. . . this will continue to be a problem until baseball has a salary cap.” Otherwise smart people claim to shun baseball based on it not having one. From what I can gather, the thought process goes “Football popular. Football have salary cap. Baseball have salary cap too or me no like baseball.”

But guess what: the salary cap doesn’t help. To the contrary, they have made matters worse. That according to Matt Ozanian of Forbes, who has studied the matter and reports that salary caps have “served to make high-revenue teams enormously profitable and low-revenue teams unprofitable, or marginally so, relative to their rivals. The growing distortion in profitability has resulted in a bigger gap in team values.”  The rich get richer?  Wasn’t that supposed to be the problem salary caps designed to solve, not the outcome they sought to promote?

But even they weren’t bad ideas economically speaking — which they certainly are — they’re awful from an aesthetic perspective as well. They insert unsightly, unwieldy, and downright complicated concepts like “franchise tags” and “expiring contracts” into the sporting discourse. Sure, that stuff is comprehensible — every team can hire a cap guru if they felt the need and most of us could get our heads around caponomics if we had to — but it’s just depressing business.  One team trading its dead weight to another team is simply dreary. I mean, we hate it now when some teams make great efforts to acquire all the best players. How would we feel about it if they spent a lot of time trying to get the worst, most overpaid ones? Blah.

Anyway, I know some of you have been brainwashed into thinking that salary caps = fairness and parity. If you have, please take a closer look at the linked article and the NFL, NBA and NHL as a whole and ask yourself if their systems really make things better than baseball’s admittedly imperfect system.

Mets pitchers strike out 26 Braves batters in 14 innings

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New York Mets pitchers struck out 26 Braves batters last night. That ties a major league record for strikeouts in a game. Four other teams have performed the feat. The Mets joined the the then-Anaheim Angels, however, as the only two teams to strike out 26 batters and lose. Those Angels fell to the Brewers 1-0 in 17 innings in 2004. The Mets fell to the Braves last night, 2-1.

Jacob deGrom led the charge with 13 Ks in seven innings of work, with his only blemish being an RBI single surrendered to Freddie Freeman in the sixth inning. deGrom atoned for that himself, however, hitting a home run off of Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up at one. That’s how things would remain when both starters left the game and it moved on to extra innings.

The first arm out of the pen for the Mets was Seth Lugo, who struck out four batters in two frames. Then came Edwin Díaz, who fanned two, followed by four relievers who each punched out one batter. The Mets final reliever of the night, Jeurys Familia, worked the fourteenth inning and recorded three outs, all via strikeout.

Unfortunately, he also gave up two hits and walked two batters. One of the hits was a ground rule double off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarría. Hechavarría, of course, was designated for assignment by the Mets earlier this month, one day before he was to earn a $1 million bonus for days on the active roster. Take that, old boss. He was then singled in by another recent Braves pickup, Billy Hamilton to make it 2-1, which would prove to be the final score.

In all, 26 strikeouts and a loss. I’m guessing the Mets would’ve taken fewer Ks and a win.