I don’t know that anything drawn from the Orioles’ streak of throwing up on themselves 18 times in a row could be considered good. But MLB executives making asses of themselves, and the writers who carry their water right behind them, certainly is illustrative.
While the Orioles pile up losses like a doomsday-er stacks canned food, apparently executives around the league consider it an embarrassment. That’s what Ken Rosenthal has been led to believe by the people he talks to.
Of course, the whole premise is laughable. This is the system that these execs and their bosses created. There’s a matter of degrees to it. The Cubs can simply surrender their chances of competitiveness and you won’t hear a peep from these guys. Cleveland has waved on any chance of improving their team since about 2017, nothing. But the Orioles ineptness becoming a national story is too much. Perhaps the light they shine on this method of team management is just too harsh?
They’ve spent years convincing fans around baseball that this is the only way. Without using the words “trust the process,” they’ve said everything short of that catchphrase. Legions of fans have some version of Stockholm syndrome, lustily perusing prospects lists and pouring over minor league highlights in accordance. GMs and writers can’t wait to point to the Cubs and Astros as examples of this being the best way.
This is why they’ve attached draft picks to free agent signings, and capped what teams can spend on their own draft picks and international signings. They’ve basically made going full blow-up-and-recover the only way to build the team. And when anyone complains and points to the Dodgers, they’re treated as some mythical creature with a TV deal that only could have been produced by Midas.
GMs have done their best to vilify any player approaching 30 years old, which is just about the time they hit free agency. “Cost controlled” has become a phrase that has become far too central to every fan, and used in pretty much every trade or trade rumor to assess value for a player.
Rosenthal is no better, of course. He can’t wait to point out the A’s as an example of a team that hasn’t spent a lot, has never entered a full rebuild, yet can still compete for playoff spots. Except the A’s ownership has cheaped out on assembling a roster for decades now, always citing problems with their stadium. But they won’t build a new stadium until the residents of Oakland respond to ownership’s mask-and-gun treatment of them. And if they refuse to comply, they’ll get the residents of Las Vegas to do it.
As has been the wont of baseball writers of late, Rosenthal can’t wait to pump the leaked proposal of a “salary floor” in the owners’ latest offer to the players regarding the new CBA coming after this season. While I’ve been a proponent of the players having to accept some sort of cap to get a floor, the owners’ lame ass attempt at it in that offer is laughable if it wasn’t so in-character for them.
The owners proposed cutting the luxury tax number some $30 million, which would take far more money out of the players’ pockets than the introduction of some floor that’s 55 percent of what their proposed high-limit would be. For comparison’s sake, the NBA salary floor is 85 percent of the cap, and the NHL’s is 90 percent. An 85 percent floor this season on the $210 million luxury tax threshold would be $178.5 million. Now that’s a level that would pump a bunch more money toward players, and make a whole lot more teams pay a lot more for players — and maybe even accidentally put a competitive team out there. The horror, the horror: MLB owners would drink turpentine before even considering such a level, but that’s where the contemporaries are.
But Rosenthal and his kind can’t help but take the Orioles’ plight and then scream from the hilltops about the generosity of MLB owners disguising the proposed floor as some urge to spend more when in fact it’s a cynical bid to spend even less.
We know the tactic of course. When the MLBPA rightly tells the owners what they can do with their $100 million floor (put it in an uncomfortable place), they’ll be painted as the villains and greedy and lacking any ambition to meet the owners halfway. And Rosenthal and his ilk will only be too happy to parrot that.
At least we can thank the Orioles for peeling the cover off just a little more.