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MLB sees record revenues, and players still aren’t seeing enough of them

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A recent Forbes article shows that MLB is making a ton of money. But yeah, teams are struggling to pay players.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Ah Giant Steinbrenner Face. I can always count on you when I need an image of money.
Photo by Kathy Willens-Pool/Getty Images

Money has been a hot topic of discussion lately. One such reason we’re talking about it so much is because the Yankees have yet to flex their wallet and pay for the services of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, or Greg Kirkland. The market is at a virtual standstill waiting for a team to sign one of them. Eventually, we’ll get articles about their contracts, which team offered what, payrolls, markets, and so on. Since we’ve evidently got a bit before they’re signed, let’s discuss money some more.

A recent article from Forbes states that MLB has once again set record revenues in 2018. That would be for $10.3 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a B. Baseball also starts with a B, as does the word bull$#!t. As in, when you hear about how teams can’t afford to pay minor league players a livable wage or afford the likes of Machado or Harper — that’s bunting bull$#!t. Bunting also starts with a B.

As I’ve written about before, the Yankees will make the playoffs without either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, due to already being really good and other teams intentionally being awful. That is not a good thing for the sport. Baseball and the owners of baseball teams are doing a wonderful job of sabotaging the sport we love while simultaneously making a sweet profit off of it as well. I could go further on this matter, but actual baseball player Sean Doolittle already did a fantastic job of explaining the issues in this Twitter thread.

While I constantly bring up Harper and Machado, this problem stretches way beyond them. Despite the amount of zeroes at the end of their contracts, players are getting lowballed. As mentioned earlier, minor league players aren’t even earning a livable wage. They only get that if/when they make it to the majors. The current system in place makes it where they get kept down in the minors so that teams have an extra year of control. Just so you’re clear, control equals not paying them what they’re worth for longer.

What’s so frustrating is that fans buy into this crap. Fans now talk about an extra year of control as if the teams cannot actually afford to pay these players once they hit free agency. As you can see by those revenue numbers, and the numbers still to come, that excuse is laughable. The Yankees could pay for Harper and Machado and still make a profit. Other teams could give Harper or Machado a mega 10-year, $300 million deal and still make a profit.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I just do not understand what goes on in the brains of fans who root for owners to save money. A Pinstripe Alley commenter once called it “capitalist stockholm syndrome” and good lord is that just the perfect description. I’d go back and look in the comments to see who it was, but I’m too lazy. If it’s you, give yourself a pat on the back.

Players being paid more money is not making your ticket or concession stand prices more expensive. Them being paid less will absolutely not lower those prices. If you’re concerned about the years of service in the eighth or tenth year of the contract, teams can usually solve that situation by working around it, with it, or perhaps by throwing money at it. As we can see, owners have plenty.

This was supposed to be the offseason for the ages. The one worth breaking the bank over. Yet here we are with it feeling a whole lot like the 2017-2018 offseason. Slow. Pedantic. Plodding. Tepid. Then articles like this come out, saying how insanely well MLB is doing when it comes to turning a profit. This is not going to get better. Make no mistake, at the rate baseball is going, we are looking at another strike in a few years.

Oh, and there might be some of you who think that the Yankees need to save that money for when Aaron Judge is a free agent, or something like that. If you think the Yankees won’t try to lowball their own superstars, I invite you to look at the past 20 years of them negotiating with their homegrown superstars. At one point, they implied that literally Derek Jeter should test the market, as if they weren’t going to bring him back. It’s not pretty. None of this is pretty.

At this point, I’m just tired. It’s getting consistently harder to care about a sport where the only real winners in all of this are the insanely wealthy owners who will profit, win or lose. I’m exhausted with discussing the business aspect of the sport like it’s something I should be rooting for. The Yankees could sign Machado or Harper and there would be so many think pieces and comments about how much of a waste of money it is or whatever. I’m just tired.

For my next article, I’ll explain how Hal and Hank Steinbrenner profit off of the unreasonable expectations fans have for the team.