February 26, 2014 by NowhereButPop
I’m a big fan of America, and if I were an alien from outer space who was studying all of humanity and the myriad of different cultures of this planet, I’m about 94% certain that I’d still be a fan of America. But because I’m not, I just seem like a jingoistic asshole…because any admiration or patriotic display of affection for the U.S. is now considered reminiscent of colonial rule.
In all honesty, I probably have too many reason to enjoy America, least of which have to do with our unalienable rights and freedoms. As with most relationships, it’s really the little things that make me appreciate the U.S.A. Our stubborn refusal to adopt customs that have smitten the rest of the world, like soccer and the metric system, and lower New York State are two of my top five favorite things about America. Rounding out the top five is our sheepish and passive aggressive preoccupation with sex, and the MLB, with number one on this list being the fact that the U.S. is not a communist state. In fact, if ever one existed, the United States is the most anti-communist state in the universe.
Despite my anti-communist leanings, I can’t help but find communism to be one of the most amusing concepts on the planet. The fact that someone out there came up with a theory that everyone is capable of the same amount of input and should therefore receive the same amount of output is very comical. If that were the case, then there should be no reason why I can’t be the starting point guard for the Knicks. God knows the majority of Americans could run an offense better than Ray Felton.
But I’m not starting point guard for the Knicks because my skills don’t merit that I be put in such a position. The reason why they don’t is because there is a disparity in skill set between myself and those deemed skilled enough to play in the NBA. On a macro-economic level, this is the reason why the USSR collapsed, why Cuba is nothing more than a joke, why 99.97% of North Korea is famished (quite literally, unfortunately), and why China only began to develop itself economically after Deng Xiaoping introduced capitalistic practices into the government. In every single example, communism doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work because it’s an inherently flawed system wherein its own ideals cannot sustain, or even muster up any semblance of success.
With that being said, my stringent opposition to communism intersects with my devotion to the MLB, both of which are major reasons that I consider myself lucky to be an American. Baseball, in its purist form (prior to revenue sharing and the wild card), is the greatest and most faithful interpretation and execution of capitalism.
The strongest piece of evidence lending itself to this theory is the fact that unlike the NBA, NFL, and NHL, the MLB is not plagued by a salary cap. A team can spend as much as they want, without limit or restraint in order to become as competitive as they see fit. Granted, this model of free spending doesn’t always work (New York Yankees 2002-2008), but the beauty of economic freedom, as presented in the MLB, is that it’s not necessary for teams to be free spenders. Teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, who have about 18 fans nationwide, remain competitive in spite of their financial shortcomings. They do this by developing talented young pitching and enforcing defensive innovation. Occasionally they’ll plunder another team’s farm system, but that’s only if they need to. But, what the Rays (pseudo) success show us is that there are many different ways to be competitive besides being a financial juggernaut. At the end of the day, that’s what capitalism is all about: choice and freedom of operation.
There is such a devoted dedication to free spending and lassie-faire economics in baseball, that the players went on strike in 1994 to prevent the imposition of a salary cap. But through luxury taxes, and the stipulation of revenue sharing (both an attempt to give the Milwaukee Brewers a chance at making the playoffs), commissioner Bud Selig has sought to create some financial restrictions. Even with the charity that is revenue sharing, a bullshit concept, the recipients of free money (men who are already billionaires) are free to do whatever they want with that money. Most of the time, owners will pocket the money for themselves instead of investing back into their own product.
Player salaries are even dictated by the law of supply and demand, unlike in the NBA or NFL where they are dependent on max contracts agreements, cap space, or spiteful financial tactics. However much a team values on a player is how much they will spend on him, when there is a higher demand for this player, his worth will increase. Whether it be from speculation or simple supply and demand, the natural market flow is what ultimately sets the price of skill.
It’s worth noting that in sports with stricter financial flexibility, several oddities exist which betray their spending limitations. For one, since the institution of a salary cap in the NBA, every team that has won the Finals have all been over the salary cap-meaning that in order to win, money, more than the allotted amount, is necessary. In the NFL, contracts are restructured all the time to make room for improvements. Furthermore, such limitations will always invite corruption and illegal circumvention. In the NBA, Kevin McHale, then GM for the Minnesota Timberwolves was found to have illegally tampered and manipulated the contract of forward Joe Smith in order to save money to sign other players. As a result the team was heavily fined and robbed of draft picks which had immediate negative repercussions for the franchise. Celtic pride at its finest.
The MLB understands and believes in letting the dice fall where they may. The fear that only the spenders will win championships is rendered moot when over the past 30 years 20 teams have won the World Series. Having been invented and endeared in the U.S., there’s no way that baseball couldn’t have captured our innate sense of capitalism. Baseball is uniquely American; it’s our game, our pastime, something that we can call unique and our own. Let the rest of the world play soccer and obsess over multiples of ten. We have baseball and capitalism, the perfect marriage of Americana.
 I suspect the only other person who would agree with this would be the late George Steinbrenner. Had others realized this, he would be in the Hall of Fame already. But he isn’t….because the Veterans Committee is run by assholes.
 Essentially, the more money the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers make, the more free money Jeff Loria gets for fielding a shitty team