Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

When I first met Craig my co-editor we must have talked baseball for an hour and we both probably mentioned the owner a grand total of never.

I take that back, I think we mentioned him once when I joked that if I were Bob Nutting I’d hire an actor to be the new owner. I mean if they ever win its not like he’ll be looked at as the reason they got it done anyway.

Clearly this wouldn’t work as eventually people would discover the ruse. But it would be just as effective as getting a new one.

Mark Cuban, Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle, everyone has their favorite new owner and if anything I’d say all three of those have experience helping to usher in and enjoying the benefits of a salary cap.

I get it, Bob sucks and I’m not going to pretend he does all he can but I will say a little better is about all you could hope for. Baseball’s real problem and for that matter the Pirates is being the only major professional sport that doesn’t have a salary cap. That’s the real fight.

One that could very well be on the table when the CBA negotiations start. Rob Manfred already spoke out loud some sacred cow phraseology that has been avoided like the plague.

As you actively watch Kansas City run roughshod through the NFL and markets like the New York Islanders who can barely establish a home compete at the highest level of the sport, keep in mind none of that happens without the cap.

It’s no guarantee either, look at the Jets for God’s sake. In fact what the Pirates have done worst over the years would actually be highlighted, drafting and development. For instance, the Dodgers would still be pretty damn good, and the Orioles would still stink.

I think that’s the biggest reason I’m able to see past the ownership, because I can honestly say they wouldn’t be much better, they’d just spend more.

Doesn’t mean I’m happy. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t replace him happily, after all if the fish truly stinks from the head there is no way to avoid realizing he is ultimately responsible for the poor execution.

What the cap does most is make it possible for a team that generates less revenue to retain players, not necessarily acquire them. Sure you’d have some Tom Brady like moves where someone who was the franchise in one location tries for one last ride somewhere else but for the most part good players would be more likely to stay where they were drafted.

If you think back about the Pirates, and let’s stick to fairly recent history, I can’t say I see more than 2 or 3 players I’d move heaven and earth to keep. Trades would still happen to try to rebuild, look at the Dolphins.

Really what it means more than anything is every team has an even playing field. It’s not your market size, your owner’s willingness to spend, no it’s just how well do you run an organization.

That’s part of what makes all the other pro sports fun to watch. Now, the NBA has largely been taken over by wherever Lebron plays or the onset of super teams where players come together to take less and make a championship run but when you only play 5 guys at a time things like that become more possible.

In the NFL it’s a franchise QB who carries the weight. Have one and you have a chance, don’t and you might as well have nothing else. The NHL probably has the best cap but even in that case keep in mind Sid and Geno wouldn’t still be in Pittsburgh if they didn’t personally decide to take less than they could to try to win. I guess that’s another way an owner can have an impact.

It comes with benefits for the players too, service time manipulation is one thing that would have to go the way of the dodo and larger money contracts would have to come earlier in a career. Could even lead to expanded rosters.

The bottom line, MLB needs a cap, and true revenue sharing to really bring back the consistent ability to compete. Oh, I almost forgot, a floor always comes with a cap and no, not even Bob Nutting would cheat the system because the penalties are crippling.

The players will never accept it! I can hear some of you screaming it as I type. Yeah, that was said for each and every other league who’s gotten it done. The big markets won’t ever go for it! Yeah, again, the same thing was said, but here we are.

The breaking point tends to be when revenue sharing becomes lopsided drastically, and we’re getting there.

I’m not saying they’ll finally make it happen in this CBA negotiation, but I will say the climate is right and if nothing else, they’ll move closer to it. Building in poison pills that lead more to get on board is probably in the cards.

If a cap comes in there will be little to blame for ineptitude beyond running the franchise poorly, and for growing a sport there is little more important than truly believing your team has a shot no matter the market size.

Keep calling for the owner’s head, I truly don’t care, but at least realize a new owner might dip into their person wealth for a moment but they won’t do it indefinitely. Rich people don’t get rich by finding ways to lose money.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

3 thoughts on “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

  1. I agree with trying to get a cap in MLB, but that’s not the entire reason the Pirates under Nutting’s control suck. He could spend a whole lot more on this team than he does. I think revenues in 2019 were 270 million & payroll was around 70 million, which I believe was third lowest in the league. Payroll in 2020 was $45 million!?! By far the lowest in the league. I’m doing all this by memory so my numbers might be off some, but you get my point. Look at every single team in the playoffs and there are at least one ex-Pirate playing and contributing. Cincinnati is a comparable market, but they stepped up and spent some money last year & were competitive. #boycottnutting

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand what you’re saying but the 2020 payroll figure just came out and if it were a full season would have been 63. The AP end of year report is the only vetted and fact based figure. He could spend more certainly, but as I wrote on who?


    2. The part about all of this that sticks out to me is the definition of competitiveness. The Reds made the expanded playoffs, which has become the goal for some Pirates Fan; which I can’t blame them for because it became ingrained in our brains for 20 years plus.

      Liked by 1 person

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