Spiegs, your topic is one I am currently doing research on. It is quite compelling and has received a lot of scholarly research in the recent past. You may want to consult a book by Andrew Zimbalist, who besides being a professor of economics at Smith College has also done work for the United Nations. He is an avid baseball fan and has written two books and several articles. The book you may want to check out is "Baseball and Billions". It's an indepth look at the business of baseball, and the fuzzy accounting that takes place there.
As fans, what we see are the millions and millions of dollars players receive to play a game that we have loved since we were kids. However, there is one thing as fans we do not ever look at - the antitrust exemption baseball enjoys.
To make a long story short, baseball as a regulated monopoly forces everyone to pay. Cities are asked to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars for stadiums, fans are asked to pay cable fees to watch games, and the federal government agrees to let the power broker owners maintain their monopoly thru a limited antitrust exemption. No other sports league has it. Not the NFL. Not the NHL. Not the NBA. Only baseball enjoys this exemption, and it is no wonder they continually seek new ways to regulate this mess they have created.
As fans, owners are directing us to the players as the fault. Here is the cold hard fact:
51,000 people, on average, at a New York Yankees game is essentially saying that the cost to go to a game is worth the price they are paying.
Some other tidbits that are interesting as well:
Paul Beeston, a former MLB Chief Operating Officer(COO, 3rd in command) has said in the past that "Under general accounting principles, I can turn a $4MM profit into a $2MM loss and I can get every national accounting firm to agree with me."
These things may seem a bit off topic, but think about exactly who is doing the spending the next time you read the newspaper.
Theo? George? I myself am a Red Sox fan, and I know going to a game is big $$.
These are the guys who are driving the salaries, and the players are the goldminers who have struck the mother lode.
This may seem longwinded, but back in 1976, owners had the opportunity to create a negotiated settlement with the players and refused. They believed the reserve clause as it stood was the only way they could survive. Quite the contrary, since the advent of free agency, teams such as the Yankees and Dodgers have maintained a competitive advantage, however, it has been a greatly reduced advantage, and one need look no furhter than a World Series Champion St.L Cardinals team that won 83 games and had the 11th highest payroll in the game.
Other recent champions and payroll notes:
2005 WS White Sox - 13th highest payroll
2004 WS Red Sox - 2nd highest payroll
2003 WS Florida Marlins - 25th highest payroll
2002 WS LA Angels - 15th highest payroll
I agree, however, that the costs of the game have spiraled out of control. The answer lies not in a salary cap, however. The true answer, I hope to have convinced you, is in a re-examination of the removal of the antitrust exemption baseball currently enjoys.