There's been CBA talk out the wazoo lately, and with good reason. The new agreement between Major League Baseball and the players will lead to over 2 decades of continuous labor peace for baseball, which is great news if you're a Yankee fan or a baseball fan in general. And generally I agree with all that's already been said in analyzing the new agreement. I agree that today's players and owners made a sweet deal for themselves while overlooking future players; I agree that the new rules on draft slotting and limits put on international free agent spending are a blow to the Yankees; I agree that the new luxury tax rules that will come work to the Yankees' advantage. All of my colleagues at TYA have already done a fantastic job at breaking down the good and bad in this new deal, and I agree with their points so there's no sense in re-hashing any of that here.
My biggest problem with the new CBA, and the whole labor negotiation process in sports as it's been a big part of the recent NFL and NBA news, is the constant talk about "competitive balance" and the strive for parity amongst the teams that has become the new goal in baseball. In my opinion, that goes against everything that sports is supposed to be about and what life is supposed to be about. In professional baseball, the goal is to win. You get more hits, you score more runs, you make more good pitches and good plays in the field, you win the game. You win more games, you make the playoffs. You win in the playoffs and get a championship. It's similar in life. You use your talents and skill sets to the best of your ability to make a more successful life for yourself, whether it's a better job, more money, a nice house, a family, whatever.
Some people are bigger than others, faster than others, smarter than others, prettier than others, work harder than others, and some people come from backgrounds and family situations that give them greater opportunity to be successful in life. And in the world there are a bunch of winners and a bunch of losers. It's harsh, but it's reality. Baseball is no different. Some teams have better players, better coaches, better scouts, better facilities, and more money and resources to help maximize the opportunity for success for their players as individuals and their organization as a whole. And this constant drive for parity, evening things out so the loser teams can catch up to the winner teams, is flat out unfair to those winner teams.
It's not the Yankees' fault that they have better players on their roster and more money than everybody else to spend on better players, be they high school or college draft picks, international free agents, or high-profile MLB free agents. It's not their fault that the Pirates don't have that much money to spend, or that the Orioles can't develop any of their high draft picks to become "great" players, or that nobody wanted to go watch the Marlins in their crappy old stadium. And the Yankees shouldn't be treated like it is. They already contribute their chunk to revenue sharing every season and to the luxury tax. It's the price they have to pay as a winner and they accept it. But to continue to have their advantages taken away from them and to continue to have to pay more prices in ways that limit their strengths in an attempt to try to turn everybody into a winner is wrong. Whether the new rules help achieve that goal or not is irrelevant. It's the fact that the losers are being given opportunities to be a winner that they didn't earn at the expense of teams, like the Yankees, who have already earned their winner statuses.
And I know people out there think that it's the right thing to do and it's good for the game and it keeps people interested, but to me that's all BS. Since the early days of baseball there have been good teams and bad teams. There have been winners and losers, record-setting ones in fact, and it has never damaged the game. The game has grown over time and continues to grow today, and no amount of winning by one team or losing by another has changed that or will change that. Almost every single game that's ever been played in Major League history has had a winner and loser. That's how they score it in the standings, "W-L." Nowhere in there is there something for "Almosts" or "Close Games." So if we're going to continue to use that as the measuring stick on the field, why does winning and losing have to be eliminated off the field?
Parity and competitive balance make that game better? Hell no, they make it boring. I don't want to see a bunch of perfectly even matched teams play to 3-3 extra-inning ties every game. I don't want to see teams barely over .500 participating in the playoffs. I don't want guys winning batting titles hitting .280 because there aren't any crummy pitching staffs out there any more to feast on. I want to see Robinson Cano facing some overmatched slob called up from Triple-A so he can take him deep. I want to see a sparkling 20-year-old rookie out of the DR come up and shut a team down with a 100-MPH heater in the postseason because the better big market team had the money to spend on him when he was 16 and did. I want to see somebody hit .400 again because he's been working with his dad and professional hitting instructors in a cage at his house since he was 7, and he was such a beast coming into the draft that only a big market team with a great hitting coach could sign him.
Speaking of playoffs, I also hate the additional Wild Card team. Hate it. For the same reason that I hate parity, it's soft and weak and lowers the bar to reward mediocrity instead of rewarding the best. If this is how it's going to be, then why not agree in the next CBA to have "win sharing?" Teams that lose too many games can get a portion of the Yankees' and Phillies' and Rangers' wins at the end of the year. How's that sound? And a predetermined number of wins to qualify for the playoffs can be established each season based off last year's win sharing average so that 24 teams can all make the postseason and the poor teams that don't can still get a participation trophy and a pizza party courtesy of MLB.
Is this a bit over the top and Carlin-esque in its black-and-whiteness? Sure. Is my opinion jaded because I'm a Yankee fan? Absolutely. But I still can't, don't, and won't support the idea that parity is good for baseball and good for sports because it's not. Parity waters down the talent pool, rewards the weak, and cuts the strong down at the knees. You win World Series championships, you don't competitively balance them. This is Major League Baseball, not the Little League World Series. If other teams can't figure out how to become winners, that's their problem. And if MLB wants to help them, great. But that shouldn't come at the expense of other teams that already are winners. Doing that takes the true essence of competition right out of the sport, and THAT is what would ultimately drive fans away.