The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

In defense of athletes’ salaries

A salary cap in Major League Baseball would be unfair

As the baseball playoffs begin, the Yankees have bet a lot of money that two pitchers can improve on their recent lackluster postseason performances.

This past offseason, they signed C. C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett to multi-year contracts worth a total of $243.5 million in the hope that the two stars would jump-start the Yankees’ starting rotation.

So far, it seems to be working. The Yankees won 103 games in the regular season, six more than the next best team. Sabathia won 19 of those games; Burnett 13. The Yankees’ success or failure this October will almost certainly depend on these two starters.

Sabathia and Burnett aren’t the only two major investments the Yankees have made over the past few years.

This year alone, they shelled out $33 million for Alex Rodriguez, $21.6 million for Derek Jeter, $20.625 million for Mark Teixera. Andy Pettitte made a paltry $5.5 million, but I’m guessing the $32 million he made between 2007-2008 will help ease that pain.

All in all, the Yankees spent over $201 million on players this year, almost double the next highest amount spent by any other team. With a payroll so gigantic, it’s no wonder the Yankees did so well this year; what’s more surprising is that teams like the Rangers and the Rays remained competitive after spending less than $69 million and $64 million, respectively.

Given these inequities, it should come as no surprise that some people want to level the playing-diamond. How can teams like the Rangers reasonably be expected to compete with the Yankees?

The solution most often bandied about is to institute a salary cap on Major League Baseball similar to that already in place in the National Hockey League, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Soccer.

As a Rays fan, I’m sympathetic to this argument. It’s rough seeing your team get pummeled year after year by opponents able to buy half the previous year’s All-Star Team.

But Major League Baseball should resist the temptation. Like almost anything else, baseball salaries are determined by the market. And no matter what people tell you, markets do a really good job of allocating resources almost every time.

The Yankees are willing to pay Alex Rodriguez so much because they think he’s worth it. And the reason why he’s worth it is because there are enough Yankees fans out there willing to pay the extra money to come see him wear the pinstripes. You may not be one of them, but the fact that he’s making what he is proves that a lot of people are.

A salary cap would mean that the Yankees couldn’t have such a star-packed roster and the Nationals would have a better one, not because more people suddenly want to see the Nationals win and the Yankees lose but because the market for players had been distorted.

That would mean that the average Yankees fan’s enjoyment matters less than the average Nationals fan’s. It would mean that Alex Rodriguez wouldn’t be able to earn what Yankees fans are willing to pay him.

That just wouldn’t be fair.

Nathaniel French is a junior theater studies major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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