SBD/April 1, 2013/MLB Season Preview

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig Touts League's Increasing Competitive Balance

Selig says competitive balance has been the goal for two decades
MLB, "by the standard of increased competitive balance, is bigger and better than ever," according to Mark Bauman of MLB.com. With 12 games scheduled today, the "larger renaissance sets in," and by tomorrow, "weather permitting, all 30 clubs will have played baseball." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "It's a beginning. You have a sense of renewed hope." Selig "speaks frequently of baseball owing its fans 'hope and faith.'" Bauman wrote that is "what the push toward parity has been about." When "another April comes around, the more franchises that have a genuine chance to win, the stronger the game is." One "can make an argument that at least 22 teams -- or more than 73 percent -- have a genuine chance to win something of value." Bauman: "Try that out on the other North American professional sports." MLB is "becoming a role model for competitive balance." Selig said, "Opening Day is exciting, not only for baseball, but for the entire country" (MLB.com, 3/31). Selig said, “I can really very very candidly say to you this morning I've never seen our sport where we have more teams that really believe they have a great chance, not necessarily win but get a playoff position.” Selig noted of the competitive balance, “This is what I set out to do 20 some years ago. In the '90s, we really didn’t have competitive balance. We thought we did and said we did but we know that we didn’t. But we know we have it today” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 4/1).

GLORY DAYS
: FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal writes these are "baseball’s glory days," as attendance is "booming, revenues are soaring [and] performance-enhancing drugs no longer seem to be as prevalent." All but three teams have reached the postseason since '00, and "nine different teams have won the World Series." But Rosenthal notes Selig "should worry ... the most" about competitive balance, a "problem that baseball has addressed at great length, yet can never solve." Well-run low-revenue teams "reach the postseason often enough, or at least they have lately." But as high-revenue teams "benefit from increasingly lucrative regional TV contracts, the financial gap will only widen." The growing disparity "could influence the choice of the next commissioner if Selig retires as planned" after the '14 season. It also could "jeopardize labor peace when the current agreement expires in ‘16." The way to "better level the playing field is by giving low-revenue teams greater advantages in the draft." The current system "is not a fair fight," not when "local revenue drives baseball economics." The complaint of "some low-revenue executives is this: A poorly run high-revenue team gets rewarded by securing a higher draft position and larger bonus pool, while a well-run, low-revenue team gets penalized by drafting lower and receiving a smaller pool." Some question "whether the spending limits actually will benefit low-revenue clubs." MLB "can’t ask high-revenue teams to share more money." The league "can’t help the low-revenue teams better compete in the free-agent market." The draft, then, is "the most logical vehicle for the sport to address the growing imbalance between the haves and have-nots" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/1).

WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN: In a special to SPORTING NEWS, Will Leitch wrote like "most baseball fans who initially were skeptical, I’ve come around to interleague play." It is "a gimmick that has gone on so long we’ve forgotten it’s a gimmick ... and it has changed the way we look at the All-Star Game, if not necessarily for the worse." But "even if it gets a little bit less different every year, it’s still different." Leitch: "Once we accept that there is nothing unusual about interleague play, that it’s just another game on the schedule, it both normalizes it and makes it not matter anymore" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 3/31).

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE: In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes baseball "is not romantic," but fans are "supposed to think so, this time of year." Opening day is "definitely fresh," but "not romantic." Once the first pitch is thrown, "the grind begins." A baseball season "is many things," but "primarily and happily, a baseball season is an unwritten book, just waiting for players to provide the plot points and write the manuscript" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/1).
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