Major League Baseball is a great league and remains the backbone of American sports to this day. Although money at stake largely influences professional sports (and college sports for, that matter), the joy inherent in baseball must not disappear. Mega contracts jeopardize the ideals of the game, the integrity of players and the joy for fans.
Many leagues such as the NBA and the NFL impose rules to limit lengthy rich contracts. The MLB does not, yet it should. The 162-game season grind requires essentially the same commitment from each player on the roster. A rookie contract is roughly $500,000—plenty to live happily—but many players make millions via long contractual agreements.
I agree that baseball highlights one-on-one competition most of the time and that individual performances can bring more paying fans to ballparks countrywide. But what happens after a player signed for upwards of $200 million over 10 years begins to age, and his production begins to decrease? Big market teams, such as the Yankees, need to be penalized for bullying smaller market teams. The league tries to penalize teams for spending a lot of money by charging a luxury tax instead of having a salary cap. It’s clear that the luxury tax does not inhibit teams from doing so.
The “win now” mindset is appropriate, but the best teams in the MLB should continually change. Mega contracts lock players in a winning environment until long after their winning ways end, and the players basically serve as negative-minded benchwarmers. MLB roster spots are meant for the best in the world, not millionaires that are a pain to share a field with, let alone watch.
If the MLB could limit the contract length and yearly payout, fans and players alike would be happier. Players like Alex Rodriguez, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado play because they’re currently great in their prime, but they’ll simply become thorns in their owners’ sides. Skill and luck is often attributed to a higher power, but if the MLB continues to let selfish, egotistic moguls get their way, the league will rot alongside the stars of today and musty ballplayers of the future.
Money causes the love of the game to diminish. The only way baseball will succeed in the future is the ability for change towards a level playing field for all teams.