Through changes such as revenue sharing and draft lottery pools, the people who run Major League Baseball have made efforts over the past few years to create parity throughout their league. They have accomplished their task and guess what? It stinks.
As of July 2, 2014, not one team in the MLB has a winning percentage below .400. When was the last time that happened? 1974. How many readers of this blog were alive then?
The Oakland A’s are the only team with a winning percentage over .600 but barely (.607).
According to Baseball-Reference.com, as of July 1, MLB stadiums are seeing 195 less fans per game than last season, for a grand total of 244,429 less fans so far this season. Ouch.
Some say this is good because now everyone is in the playoff hunt, but does that make for a compelling and exciting sport?
Every great story needs a villain. The NBA has the Miami Heat, the NFL has the New England Patriots, the NHL has the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the PGA had Tiger Woods. Many fans would tune in, not to cheer for the opposing team, but to see the big bad powerhouse fall.
The MLB used to have the New York Yankees, but they are currently 41-42. They can certainly talk the big talk with their latest free-agent spending spree and new rookie pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but their “guns” look more like balloon animals.
As I stated before, the Oakland A’s currently have the best record in the league, but is anyone really tuning into ESPN Sunday Night Baseball to see Josh Donaldson or CoCo Crisp? Do baseball fans even know who Josh Donaldson is?
Parity has pushed the best teams in the league down and now no team is dominant; the league is just a hodgepodge of mediocrity. Even the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox are now 38-46 and losing Jacoby Ellsbury is not enough to warrant that collapse.
One of the most exciting days of the season, the trade deadline, could be a massive disappointment. With most teams just “a good two weeks” away from being in first place, why will anyone want to sell? Yes you will see David Price and Jeff Samardzija traded, but those are forced due to contractual issues. Who will be the biggest hitter traded? No one really knows?
Speaking of no one knowing, who are the favorites to play in the 2014 World Series? Does anyone have any clue? With absolutely no confidence, I would guess the Detroit Tigers vs the Milwaukee Brewers. When was the last time anyone can remember almost reaching the mid-point of the season without clear cut favorites for the fall classic?
Parity works really well on paper. Everyone has a fair share and maybe some team will shock the sport and make a surprise run to the World Series. In reality, it creates a frustrating sport for the fan.
Many teams have no identity.
You used to have your juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox. You would have that “second tier” team such as the Anaheim Angles and San Francisco Giants, always trying to prove they belonged in that upper class. On the other end you had your bottom feeders like the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, who would try to develop younger talent and win through their own resources. They would stockpile prospects and try to build from within.
Now everyone is going to be looking for that veteran bat or pitcher to help put their team over the edge and it just makes for over population within the classes. There are no juggernauts and there are no bottom feeders. Every team is gathering on the middle floor for cocktail hour.
Don’t get me wrong. I love baseball and I will always love baseball; however, the way things are currently going, I see my once-great sport declining rapidly into something that is simply average.