Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette acknowledges the obvious; salary cap; NFL 2011 lockout/strike

Sometimes we can better understand the situation in baseball by comparing MLB to the NFL. The NFL followed MLB into free agency, but with substantial differences. Salary caps and revenue sharing have prevented the NFL from turning into the complete free-for-all poker game that baseball has become. I will explore this subject further in greater detail, but a small item in a Pittsburgh newspaper has acknowledged what everyone seems to know, but what few say openly on a regular basis:
Many people are worried about an NFL lockout in 2011 and the long-range impact it might have on professional football. Will it leave the sport without a salary cap? Will it turn football into baseball? Heaven forbid, will it turn the Steelers into the Pirates?

Legitimate concerns.
[The remainder of the article focused on other football issues]

While I do not believe the impending strike/lockout will produce these dire results (if it happens at all), that a newspaper would make that comparison between the two sports is significant.

The Steelers have been successful (mostly) for forty years. The Pirates have endured 18 losing seasons (including 2010) in a row. Pittsburgh sportswriters and Marvin Miller apologists around the country blame the Pirates' (and other teams') failure on stupidity. Numerous general managers in a row have coincidentally been unable to evaluate talent and draft the "right" players for 18 consecutive years. That is the accepted explanation.

But yesterday the Post-Gazette contradicted the official storyline. The Post-Gazette writer has acknowledged that a salary cap is all that stands between the Steelers' winning tradition and the Pirates' recent failure.

If the accepted storyline is correct, it should not matter how high the salaries are. The Steelers are good at evaluating talent and the Pirates are bad. That is the story and the Miller apologists are sticking to it. But the Post-Gazette writer knew better (at least for a day). Marvin Miller-era free agency is at the heart of the problem. An uncapped salary structure would doom the Steelers to the Pirates' fate.

If the NFL salary cap goes away, Steeler talent scouts and management are about to get a lot more stupid. Maybe Pittsburgh should start building an even more expensive football stadium in anticipation of the day when this fear becomes a reality.

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