This competition between the large and small markets is the lifeblood of the NFL and 2009 may serve as no finer example of small market success. The top four records in the NFL are held by Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Diego, and Minnesota. What do these locales have in common? Only two have the where-with-all to support MLB in their cities and even those two have been rumored to be on the move. Minnesota was part of contraction talks not too long ago and without the 1998 World Series appearance for the Padres, Petco Park never would have been built and perhaps contraction or relocation would have been in their future. Indianapolis, San Diego, and New Orleans are cities that only support and house two professional franchises and all of the above cities but Indianapolis** have lost a franchise (Northstars, Clippers, Jazz).
At some point one of these NFL franchises has relocated or has been rumored to be on the move but there is one constant: revenue sharing (and capable stewardship) allows the teams to compete each year. All any fan wants to know is that in devoting time to a passion there is an opportunity for there to be a reward, but so few fans have this belief in baseball because the field is so unleveled.
Baseball becomes inherently more interesting when there are not only more teams who can compete but also different teams from season to season. A wise move by the Commissioner would entail not only a salary cap that could fluctuate with league revenues (like the NFL) but also a floor that would require the smaller market teams to spend the windfalls that are given to them each season.
Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox have revenue at their disposal but more importantly, they are operated better than most organizations. While this is a fact we must also not forget that the Yankees and Red Sox do not exist with out clubs to play through out the season. This interdependent relationship is what drives the need for meaningful payroll reform.
I believe the Padres will rebound over the next few years but their renewal will be short lived because of their inability to retain the players they develop. As a Charger fan, I have hope each year. I would like the same hope for the Padres, as I am a baseball fan first.
* With the exception of the Lions who are run by a family, the Fords, who cannot even excel in their primary field and the Raiders who are run by the Crypt Keeper.
** I can’t be bothered to research this but I think I’m right.
Thanks! And my response, in picture form, to the right.
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