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Great Piece by Daugherty.


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The only difference between the principal owner of the Reds and the principal owner of the Yankees is that the principal owner of the Reds has more money.

Oh, and this: He chooses not to spend it on his baseball team.

Fair enough. Whatever piggy bank Carl Lindner decides to put the almost $1 billion in stock he'll get from selling his stake in Provident Financial Group to Cleveland-based National City Corp. is his business. But let's not blame George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees for anyone else's problems.

Now that Steinbrenner has bought Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers, the owner of the Boston Red Sox has decided baseball needs a salary cap. That's a laugh. The root of baseball's money problems - if you believe baseball has money problems - is not player greed. If someone offered you $16 mil a year to sell soap or bananas, you'd probably take it. The problem is the greed, egos and fractious relationships of the team owners. The way some of them run their baseball teams makes you wonder how they got rich in the first place.

Three years ago, Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks paid A-Rod $100 million more than any team was offering. At the time, the Rangers had arguably the worst pitching in the game. No shortstop could cure that ill. Hicks didn't understand that. Now, Hicks is paying the Yankees $67 million to make A-Rod go away. If you take my Porsche, I'll throw in an extra $100,000. This guy's a great businessman?

Baseball is the last big-sports place where big-bucks capitalists like Steinbrenner are free to roam. Of course, other owners want a salary cap. It'd protect themselves from themselves. If it could be designed like the NFL's cap, it'd guarantee them a profit every year, even if their team were persistently tragic. Mike Brown had a stateroom on the S.S. Gravy Boat for a decade.

Yet we see it as a problem when Steinbrenner spends to keep his team at the top and his fans happy. What we ought to wish is that Lindner were a little more like Steinbrenner. Greg Maddux would have looked good in red, don't you think? He just signed with the Cubs, three years, $24 million. What's $24 million when you just made $1 billion?

As The Boss himself said Tuesday, responding to Boston owner John Henry's whine: "Unlike the Yankees, (Henry) chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston."

(It should also be noted that the core of the great Yankees teams of the late '90s wasn't bought, but rather homegrown or acquired in a trade: Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Paul O'Neill.)

If C-Lind wanted to go checkbook-to-checkbook with G-Stein for A-Rod, he could. Unlike other teams - the L.A. Dodgers, for one - Reds ownership isn't carrying a huge debt. They paid Marge Schott a reported $67 million for most of her majority ownership. Frank McCourt paid $430 million for the Dodgers last month. Unlike the San Francisco Giants, the Reds' new ballpark wasn't privately financed. The Giants need to fill Pac Bell Park just to pay the mortgage. Their payroll is comfortably higher than Cincinnati's.

Steinbrenner's Yankee war chest - more than $100 million in ticket sales last year, another $70 million from local TV and radio - dwarfs what Lindner and his partners get here. But The Boss's personal wealth isn't in the same ballpark. It's all a matter of where you choose to spend your money.

Steinbrenner spends to satisfy his ego and to keep the Yankees' profit engine humming. And to please his customers. Lindner runs a business. It is a difference in philosophy, is all. To which we must say: Go Yankees.

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A lot of us should like Daughertys' column. If you read our posts on this subject and then his column, it looks as though we were contributors. They're even getting around to admitting that the current system doesn't work and that they need some sort of cap. At least they've gotten half the idea. To me it's only common sense that if you say there is a limit at the high end on how much you are able to spend on players salaries ...... then there has to be a lower limit on what you are required to spend in order to keep your team competetive.

We've all pretty much agreed that spending money on players isn't going to guarantee success. Until recently, Steinbrenner wasn't a whole lot more successful at his efforts to buy a winning team than Snyder has been in Washington. Unfortunately, there are as many or more cases of owners packing it in ..... dumping salary in fire sales .... not keeping even the players that they've developed, and not even participating in free agency to replace lost talent. ( note the Reds inactivity during the winter meetings ) All this adds up to the opposite of the Yankees of the world, and that is a team that is at an unfair disadvantage. Again, say you are obligated to spend x number of dollars isn't going to mean that you are going to do it well or wisely and you could still end up with a bad team. But ..... it would remove the incentive of fielding a bad team in order to line your pockets.

That Lindner is running his team like a business is a point well taken, but it needs to be expanded on. Following the model of businesses today, it should be about 2 years till he announces that operations and games are going to be moved to Mexico or Malaysia, and that the games will be fed live to the ticket buyers at GABP on a jumbo tron bulit in Japan.

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