So what is “MLC” you ask. It is Major League Communism and it has been in existence here in Pittsburgh for many years. Major League Baseball has implemented a mini-communist experiment that would make Karl Marx proud “to each according to his needs and from each according to his ability” or as MLB calls it, revenue sharing. This seems like a fair thing that the “richer” clubs pay more to support the “poor” clubs. Maybe we should call this “Sports Justice.”
For instance in 2006 the New York Yankees “contributed” $77 million toward MLB revenue sharing and the Boston Red Sox antied up $51 million to promote Sports Justice. Since these and other large market teams have the ability to make more money they can afford much higher salaries and would naturally be able to to buy the better players from the small market teams thus making MLB less competitive or unfair. All teams contribute to the pot based on their ability and remove based on their need. Baseball parity at last? Does Major League Communism work?
Yes it does! It works just like communism always works. The rich are still rich or as in the case of the Yankess they still can afford the highest payroll and are generally at the top of list for payroll (often nearly $100 million more than the second place team). The poor teams still cannot afford to keep their best players once they are eligible for free agency. There are still the “haves” and “have-nots” just like before.
An interesting phenomenon that always is part of communism is that someone always figures out that they really don’t have to really try and yet still get a piece of the pie. Perhaps the quintessential MRC scammers are my home team the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates seem aptly named as they take a substantial chunk of revenue sharing (over $70 million in 2009 and a payroll of only $48 million according to Sports Business Daily) and yet have just fielded their 18th losing season. They even have gotten pretty close this year to having the worst MLB record of all time (modern era).
Many fans were shocked when someone leaked the financial reports of the Pirates and other baseball teams recently. It seems that the Pirate owners have found a way to make money. They gleefully accept the shared wealth and choose not to field a real team. They make a profit before a single ticket is sold. It doesn’t hurt that they have one of the nicest ballparks paid for by the local taxpayers. Why should they try when someone else will pay the bills? Sound familiar?
This model just never works…just ask Fidel Castro.