America’s great pastime may represent America in a negative light, proving that whether on the field or on the streets, inequality is rampant. How is it fair that players who hit home runs get paid the most?
According to Sports Illustrated, the highest-paid position in baseball, on average, is the designated hitter a position that is filled overwhelmingly by a player who can hit lots of home runs. But not everyone can hit 40 home runs a year. By the laws of physics, the big and strong hitters have the highest potential of hitting home runs while smaller players hit less. And yet there is no outcry?
With the 1280 players in the MLB it makes sense that bench players aren’t paid the most, because they play the least. That’s just basic economics. On the flip side designated hitters don’t even play defense, which is half of the game, and yet their salaries look like they play the whole game, including extra innings. The 14 starting designated hitters in baseball make up less than 1% of the entire league, play the least amount of innings, and yet earn the most. And yet there is no outcry?
So why do we have this inequality? We could blame it on the greedy owners looking to keep positions like designated hitter in place. It gives wealthy American League teams a competitive advantage. However, their support for such “specialization” is creating greater inequalities in the sport. According to Dan McLaughlin, between 2006 and 2010,
“The average winning AL team had a payroll of $108.4 million compared to $88.7 million in the NL. That’s a $20 million-a-year difference.”
That’s a huge gap and that only compares the winning teams from each league. That doesn’t even show the large payroll of winning American League teams compared to the payroll of losing American League teams.
“Over the same five seasons, the average AL team that finished .500 or worse had a payroll of $71.1 million, indistinguishable from the $72.0 million average in the NL but $37.3 million behind the winning teams, while the NL teams trailed the winners in their league by $17.6 million.”
It seems that money always wins and smaller market teams just can’t compete.
The 1% of major league baseball players shouldn’t be paid the most for playing half the game. Supporters of specialization argue that any player can get stronger and fill the position. They also argue that not every manager plays the best home run hitter in that position. Yet, that simply is not the truth; we already know that every owner’s main concern is the profits, wins, and success of his or her team. Of course smaller players can improve their strength but with 162 games a season, spring training, and having to maintain their defensive abilities it seems that weak baseball players have no time to improve their strength. They are at a disadvantage. Also, due to the fact that designated hitters don’t have to worry about their defensive abilities, designated hitters continue to develop their strength. Therefore weak players are at an inherit disadvantage with less of an opportunity to get stronger.
So what about managers not filling the position with homerun hitters? Yea, okay that’s great, but it doesn’t solve the fundamental issue. Homerun hitters are paid the most. If you don’t believe the discrimination yet, just wait, it gets worse. First base, a position also known to be played by bigger and stronger players, also hits many homeruns too. Not surprisingly, the second highest paid position in baseball is first base. In addition, the often interchanging between first base and designated hitter shows the easy mobility between positions for bigger and stronger players. The system right now favors the bigger guys.
So how do we solve this rampant inequality? We should just create new laws like we do for all the problems we face here in America. Here’s a law: eliminate home-runs entirely from the sport of baseball. By eliminating home-runs, we can level the playing field. America is all about equality, and right now the poorer teams can’t even compete. We don’t want greedy capitalists winning all the games! Therefore, this new law would require all baseballs hit over the fence to be automatically ruled a triple. By turning homeruns into triples, we create greater opportunities for the less-capable to perform on a leveled playing field with their bigger and stronger counterparts. This will even out the income disparities and make America’s pastime the beacon of equality. It is simply unfair that smaller players are punished for their inability to hit homeruns. Don’t we want the more “equal” America that President Obama keeps talking about?