As kids growing up in the Midwestern United States, my friends and I loved baseball. We spent many hours each summer day playing the game, and when we weren’t out on the sandlot, we were reciting the stats of top players, arguing the merits of our favorite teams, and trading baseball cards. Baseball is more than America’s pastime. It is a sport on which millions of Americans have cut their athletic teeth, laying a lifelong foundation of physical fitness and instilling important lessons about competition and character.
Imagine my distress, then, in beholding the state of major league baseball in 2015. Stalwart players such as Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and Robinson Cano of the Mariners have been posting career-worst numbers, and even a venerable team such as the Boston Red Sox, which boasts the fourth-highest payroll in all of baseball, is stuck in last place in its division. And this problem of poor performance is not a fleeting phenomenon. Consider the Chicago Cubs, who have the worst home field record of any team over the last 50 years, and haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
Clearly, the best interests of our youth, the American public, and baseball fans everywhere are not being well served by our current largely unregulated approach to baseball quality. Poorly performing players are appearing in game after game, and losing teams keep showing up on opening day season after season. This isn’t just a matter of pride. The economic implications of Major League Baseball are huge – the Los Angeles Dodgers have a payroll of nearly $300 million, and the New York Yankees franchise has an estimated worth of over $3 billion. Something has to change.