Hank Steinbrenner, having inherited a wildly profitable sports franchise, is understandably concerned about plans to share some of his franchise's massive revenue base with smaller-market teams:
Steinbrenner also said baseball's revenue sharing and luxury tax programs need changes, and that Commissioner Bud Selig is open to the idea.
Steinbrenner said he doesn't know what the final figure is, but expects the Yankees' 2010 payments for the two to total about $130 million.
"We've got to do a little something about that, and I know Bud wants to correct it in some way," Steinbrenner said. "Obviously, we're very much allies with the Red Sox and the Mets, the Dodgers, the Cubs, whoever in that area."
"At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor," Steinbrenner said. "Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."
Of course, if you define a system of sharing revenue between every franchise and forcing them to compete on the basis of managerial skill rather than raw economic power as "socialism," then of course socialism can work. It works in other sports franchises. But clearly owners who are long on economic power and short on brainpower will oppose a system like that. Why force yourself to out-scout the Milwaukee Brewers when you can spend them into the ground?
The Yankees are sitting on a massive market that guarantees the franchise larger profits than most major league franchises. With its extra money and lack of any payroll cap, the Yankees can buy up top talent, thus cementing their tradition as a perpetual winner, which in turn solidifies the team's revenue base. It's a nearly idiot-proof racket.
Now, given that the current system is so obviously unfair, defenders of it do gesture toward an alternative. They say you could have a system without revenue sharing by abandoning the idea of spreading baseball teams throughout the country. Get rid of small-city teams and create, say, 4 or 5 New York-based franchises. Steinbrenner endorses that idea, but I suspect the odds that he would favor it if it had an actual chance to come into effect -- as opposed to being a theoretical plan useful as a bludgeon to preserve the status quo -- are roughly zero.