No, the Red Sox signing Pablo and Hanley is not proof that baseball needs a salary cap

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It’s like friggin’ clockwork. A team signs a big free agent or two and someone argues that baseball is doomed without a salary cap. It’s always baloney — baseball has had greater competitive balance without a salary cap than any of the other three sports which have them — but people have repeated it enough over the years that everyone believes it.

The latest to repeat it is Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. What set him off? The Red Sox signing Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, claiming that “the wealth of the Boston ownership and the loyalty of Red Sox Nation has allowed it to work the system,” and that it’s a game “where only the uber-rich can compete.” Then he trots out perhaps the most famous and tired pro-salary cap cliche there is, claiming that teams like the Indians “have no realistic chance” at winning the World Series due to payroll discrepancies.

Thoughts:

  • Did Hoynes watch the World Series? The one that ended less than a month ago? The Royals were in it. Really, they were. And the Indians, just a year ago, were in the same position the Royals were in: wild card winners from the AL Central.
  • Does Hoynes know that the Red Sox lost 91 games last year? That’s one fewer loss than the Astros and the Twins had. Yes, Boston is rich and yes, they won the 2013 World Series, but I’m not quite sure how “team that came closer to losing 100 games than it came to finishing at .500 spending money to get better” is some sort of threat to the system that should inspire such pessimistic fatalism. The old argument used to be that rich teams always stayed good and poor teams always sucked and there was no hope for them to get better. Nice that we’re moving the goalposts here.
  • Speaking of goalposts, does Hoynes realize that the Cleveland Browns play in a league with the salary cap? Quick question: how many Indians fans would’ve traded the last decade of their team’s experience for the last decade of the Browns? You don’t have to answer now. I’ll wait.
  • Does Hoynes think the Indians had no chance to sign Ramirez or Sandoval? Well, maybe they didn’t. But does Hoynes know that the Sox signed Ramirez to stumble around left field and that the Indians happen to have Michael Brantley playing left field and that he got a ton of MVP votes this past season? The Indians would’ve lost the bidding for those guys if they entered it, but they didn’t enter it because THEY DON’T WANT OR NEED THOSE GUYS. Meanwhile, the Tribe may have one of the best rotations in baseball next season. One the Red Sox would kill to have.

This isn’t the silliest salary cap rant I’ve ever seen. No, the all time champion there was John Feinstein, who in 2010, without any apparent irony, gave a full-throated “we need a salary cap!” rant because the Yankees traded for Austin Kearns. AUSTIN KEARNS was the bridge too far. Alrighty then.

But it is silly. It ignores the fact that the Red Sox, no matter their promise for 2015 — and their winning is by no means guaranteed next season — lost a lot of baseball games last season. And two years before that. And that the Indians won a lot of games in 2013 and were quite competitive in 2014.

It also ignores the fact that 27 different teams have played in the 48 Super Bowls with 18 of them winning it while 27 different teams have played in the last 48 World Series with 20 different teams winning it. And that this trend holds for more recent years as well. And I won’t even get started on the NBA which has a salary cap and, suffice it to say, is not a bastion of competitive balance.

I will not go so far as to say that baseball’s system is perfect. It’s not perfect. But to the extent it needs fixing and to the extent we’re assigning blame for its imperfections, the imposition of a salary cap will neither address the former nor will its absence stand as a reasonable culprit for the latter.

Ohtani homers twice, including career longest at 459 feet, Angels beat White Sox 12-5

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CHICAGO (AP) Shohei Ohtani homered in consecutive innings, including a 459-foot drive that was the longest of his Major League Baseball career, and drove in four runs to lead the Los Angeles Angels over the Chicago White Sox 12-5 Wednesday.

Mike Trout put the Angels ahead 2-0 with a 476-foot home run in the first that was four rows shy of clearing the left field bleachers. Taylor Ward also went deep as the Angels hit four two-run homers plus a solo shot.

“Those are the guys you lean on,” manager Phil Nevin said. “They can certainly put the team on their backs and carry us and that’s what they did today.”

Ohtani drove a first-pitch fastball from Lance Lynn (4-6) just to left of straightaway center in the third, where the ball was dropped by a fan who tried to glove it. That 425-foot drive put the Angels ahead 4-1.

Lynn didn’t even bother to turn and look when Ohtani hit a full count fastball more than a dozen rows over the bullpen in right-center in the fourth. The two-way Japanese star is batting .269 with 15 homers and 38 RBIs to go along with a 5-1 record and 2.91 ERA.

“I’m feeling good right now,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I’m putting good swings on pitches I should be hitting hard.”

Ohtani increased his career total to 13 multihomer games with his first this season.

Trout pulled a hanging curve for his 13th home run. Ward hit a two-run homer against Jesse Scholtens in the seventh and Chad Wallach, pinch hitting for Ohtani, had a solo homer in the ninth off Garrett Crochet.

“Usually when that happens, we’re in a good spot to win,” Trout said.

Trout and Ohtani have homered in the same game for the fifth time this season. The Angels hit a pair of 450-foot or more home runs in the same game for the first time since Statcast started tracking in 2015.

Lynn allowed eight runs, eight hits and two walks while hitting two batters in four innings, raising his ERA to 6.55. He has given up 15 home runs, one short of the major league high of Kansas City’s Jordan Lyles. Lynn had won his previous three starts.

“It seemed like he didn’t get away with any today,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “Just one of those days, man.”

Jaime Barria (2-2) gave up one run and four hits in five innings with six strikeouts and two walks.

Los Angeles won two of three from the White Sox after being swept by Miami last weekend.

Jake Burger homered for Chicago, which has lost four of five. Burger hit his 11th homer in the ninth and Hanser Alberto had a two run double off Tucker Davidson.

Chicago’s Romy Gonzalez, who’d homered in three straight games, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

THE NATURALS

Twenty-three people became naturalized U.S. citizens during a pregame swearing-in behind home plate.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Trout fouled a pitch off his right leg in the fourth but remained in the game.

White Sox: INF Elvis Andrus (strained left oblique) and RHP Mike Clevinger (right wrist inflammation) are close to returning but Grifol wouldn’t elaborate on either player’s status.

UP NEXT

Angels: Reid Detmers (0-4, 4.93) starts Thursday’s series opener at Houston against fellow LHP Framber Valdez (5-4, 2.38).

White Sox: Have not announced a starter for Friday’s series opener against visiting Detroit, which starts RHP Reese Olson in his major league debut. Olson is 2-3 with a 6.38 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Toledo.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports