Thursday, July 3, 2014

Should rich teams be allowed to buy players from poor teams?

The Athletics (As) franchise sold contracts for some of its players when the team was in Philadelphia, twice dismantling championship teams (1914 and 1933), and Kansas City but was hampered when trying that in Oakland.

In the 1920s and 1930s the Red Sox sold players to the Yankees, most famously Babe Ruth for the 1920 season after he had broken the season home run record by hitting 29.

Even the Yankees sold off in the late 1930s when owner Jacob Rupert died January 13, 1939 and there was a perception that the team needed money.  Vince DiMaggio, older brother of Joe DiMaggio, was acquired by the Yankees February 4, 1939 from the Boston Bees (Braves) but assigned to a minor league team and never played for the Yankees before ...

August 5, 1939: Traded by the New York Yankees to the Cincinnati Reds for players to be named later and $40,000. The Cincinnati Reds sent Frenchy Bordagaray (January 27, 1940) and Nino Bongiovanni (January 27, 1940) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

The players the Yankees received were marginal.  It was basically a cash transaction.

Vida Blue pitching in Yankee Stadium
Bowie Kuhn was the fifth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from February 4, 1969, to September 30, 1984.  Kuhn basically stopped significant player sales when he blocked Oakland As owner Charles O. Finley from selling players: pitcher Rollie Fingers and outfielder Joe Rudi to Boston and pitcher Vida Blue, 1971 AL Cy Young award winner, to the Yankees.  Kuhn later also prevented Finley from selling Blue to Cincinnati.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowie_Kuhn#Charles_O._Finley

In 1976, when Finley attempted to sell several players to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees for $3.5 million, Kuhn blocked the deals on the grounds that they would be bad for the game. Some[who?] believe that Kuhn's actions were simply a revenge tactic, aimed at Finley, after Finley attempted to force an owners vote to remove Kuhn as commissioner in 1975.
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This was at the dawn of free agency.  But since then a soft team salary cap has been created and a luxury tax on big spending teams.  So what about just letting rich teams sell players to poor teams?  It might actually simplify things and be less hypocritical.  All baseball assets come down to cash at some point.

The main supporting argument for blocking such sales is that teams would buy championships.  But that argument has been prevalent for decades, pretty much form the start of free agency, especially concerning Yankee owner George Steinbrenner who tried to acquire Vida Blue from Finley in 1976.

Allowing the flow of cash would infuse poor teams with ... cash.  Isn't that the American way?  Organized professional sports is weighed down with corporate socialism.  What's so good about that?

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