Masoud: Time to trim the fat of the four major sports (Feb. 2)
Chris Masoud | Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I’m going to skip to two topics and two topics only: contraction and contracts.
As the Sultan of Sports, I have supreme authority over the four kingdoms of the NBA, the NHL, the MLB and the glorious realm, the NFL. My first order of business is to cut the excess fat holding back each league from reaching its true potential, and that means axing teams through contraction. Nothing is quite as embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch as a sporting venue take place in a half-filled stadium, even when the home team is battling for playoff contention.
Day 162 of the 2011 baseball season may go down as the greatest regular season day of play, with the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals both fighting their way into the playoffs thanks to the collapse of the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox. With their season on the line, Evan Longoria and the Rays closed a seven-run deficit in the eighth and ninth innings to clinch a Wild Card berth in extra innings. They did so in front of less than 30,000 fans, or about 65% of the capacity at Tropicana Field.
The Rays are just one of several teams I’m shutting down for good. If your city can’t even sellout a play-in game three years removed from a World Series appearance, you simply don’t deserve the privilege of hosting a professional organization.
The contraction of just four MLB teams (Rays, Padres, Marlins and Royals) from 32 to 28 would create a more competitive environment, one in which Prince Fielder may actually deserve a $214 million contract. Not only would rotations be stacked, but lineups would give fans what they longed for during the steroid era: power hitting. Contraction would also preserve the sanctity of the Hall of Fame, which honors former players who regularly competed against teams brimming with fellow Hall of Famers.
And contraction would not be limited to just the MLB. The Jaguars (NFL), the Lightning (NHL) and the Bobcats (NBA) are all on the chopping block (maybe I’ll just contract Florida sports under an executive order). Again, more competition leads to more fun for the fans and a better product on the gridiron/diamond/ice/court.
Now to contracts: Scott Boras, you are hereby relieved of your duties, and Dwight Howard, you are hereby ordered to stay in Orlando or remain silent.
But seriously, Scott Boras throws his weight around harder than Fielder rounding the bases. I realize he represents the greatest players in baseball, but owners and general managers quiver in fear at the sight of his phone number across their cell phones. Now playing hardball with Boras is a losing prospect, because if you tick him off once you lose access to the best talent.
But if everybody plays hardball …Which will never happen without a salary hard cap rather than a luxury tax. If you really want parity in baseball, stop letting the big markets push everyone around.
Finally, prospective free agents, you must first become a free agent to act like a free agent. Nothing is more unsettling than watching a seven-footer with massive deltoids cry his way out of a city. Hate LeBron all you want, but at least he waited until his summer of free agency to make a Decision.
One more thing: I am moving the headquarters of sports from Bristol to San Francisco, removing Skip Bayless from television and replacing his show with my own: West Coat Bias, airing Monday through Friday at 8 p.m. Pacific Time.
The views expressed in this Sports Authority column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
Contact Chris Masoud at firstname.lastname@example.org