For a dwindling number of aging Baby Boomers, the announcement of pitchers and catchers reporting to training camps next week is a harbinger of spring.

Everyone else knows better, particularly those with advanced interests: Football replaced baseball as the nation’s pastime decades ago.

Almost DailyBrett used to be a baseball fan, now he doesn’t care about the World Series, much less spring training and the interminable season that follows.

Many complain about income inequality. There is no part of US society that is more inequitable than … baseball.

Some celebrated Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” about General Manager Billy Beane and his Oakland Athletics trying to compete in an unfair game.

Now the game is just unfair, and still boring and desultory. Where are the socialist justice warriors when you need them?

Everyone in Washington D.C. has been on pins and needles. Impeachment? No Stephen Strasburg’s salary.

The Nationals’ pitcher turned down the remainder of his $100 million over four years contract. The club ponied up $245 million for the next seven years.

Instead of $25 million per year to throw a baseball, Strasburg will receive $35 million per year to throw a baseball.

Best of all, he will stay in DC. Whew … that was close!

MLB Payrolls Bigger Than Entire Country Budgets?

Almost DailyBrett has never been a fan of socialism. Having said that, a reasonably controlled market (e.g., salary caps) has worked extremely well for NFL and NHL competition. In stunning contrast, the unfettered baseball free agent market has resulted in usually the same low-payroll teams being completely out of the running by June, virtually each-and-every year.

Let’s compare the budgets of sovereign countries in comparison to the baseball team payrolls for … 25 players.

Samoa in the South Pacific provides essential services for its 196,000 citizens with an annual budget of $233 billion. The New York Yankees put food on the table for its 25 studs with $217 million ($8.68 million per player).

Caribbean islands St. Kitts and Nevis serves its 55,345 residents with $233 billion. The sign-stealing cheating Houston Astros allocate $206 million for its 25 heroes ($8.24 million each).

Gambia in West Africa maintains a $230 million budget for its 2.10 million citizens. Conversely, the Boston Red Sox make do with $200 million for its family of 25 ($8.00 million per player).

The average salary for MLB’s 988 players, who mostly stand around for hours in the infield and outfield, is down two consecutive years. In 2019, the average was $4.051 million (1.1 percent less), 2018, $4.095 million, and 2017, $4.097 million.

Should we hold bake sales for these starving players?

Black and Gold Futility Beside the Monongahela

Considering that your author was born in Western Pennsylvania, he has a soft spot in his heart for the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB, five World Series titles), the Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL, six Super Bowls) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL, five Stanley Cups).

Pittsburgh with its 301,000 residents and 2.36 million in the metropolitan area is considered a small-market sports city. The differentiator for the three teams is the Steelers and Penquins compete under the terms of respective NFL and NHL salary caps. The Pirates ($41 million, $1.64 per player average) fend for themselves in an unfair sport dominated by the most militant of unions (e.g., MLBPA) and greedy sports agents (e.g., Scott Boras for Stephen Strasburg).

Consider that the Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 2017. The Steelers hoisted their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2009.

The We Are Family Pirates last won the World Series 40 years ago in 1979 (Carter was president). Since that time. the Pirates have been a non-factor because they simply cannot compete against the big market teams. Will 2020 be any different? Don’t think so.

For a Pirates fan, the obvious question comes immediately to mind: ‘Why bother with baseball?’ Why bother, indeed.

Some have suggested that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in all of sports. What? Literally hundreds of humans past and present, alive and deceased have hit major league pitching.

How many can carry the ball from the five-yard line (red zone) in an NFL game? How many can hold LeBron to 40 points in an NBA game? How many can stop a Alexander Olevchkin slap shot in an NHL contest?

Let’s face it, baseball is an increasingly unfair and fraudulent (i.e., steroid kings, stolen signs) game, which at best represents America’s sporting past (i.e., Barry Bonds, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson). Traditionalists may still get their collective knickers in a twist in February, but the younger ask the more salient question:

When do college football training camps open?

https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll/

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28320193/stephen-strasburg-returns-nationals-hopes-never-leaves

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28341983/average-mlb-salary-drops-second-straight-year

2020 Spring Training Reporting Dates