Well, it’s the halfway point in the 2009 baseball season, and I thought this would be a good time to throw my hat into the ring in regards to this familiar and annoying topic. I’ve had this conversation with many people, as all baseball fans tend to do amongst themselves.

Why can’t they pay baseball players according to their statistics, instead of to what their potential seems to be? How many times have we seen a guy sign a big contract, for zillions of dollars, in ANY sport, not just baseball—only to see the athlete just tank and under-perform the next season.

Then there’s the owners, all the variables that go along with running a league, merchandising, licensing, agents bargaining… so many things that affect the bottom line in regards to any pay structure, and to expand, on any economic model. And as an artist and not being born with a left-side of my brain (I use that part of my skull for Christmas ornament storage),  talking money is a true stretch for my poor little lonely right brain to handle.

So I don’t know why I am obsessed with how I think ‘we’ should pay baseball players—maybe it’s because it has led me to a way to combine different Structures of Thought™ on how to cope with this March to Ruin that is our economy right now—or whatever the corporatocracy wants us to believe at this moment in history. Since the entire system is basically shot, now is the time to just change the whole structure—not just the Thought Structure, but the entire economic process. And we can start by trying it out on how we pay baseball players.

This is the start of a framework for this pay structure. It melds lines of thought into different branches of how to handle the different ways to pay, through the separate schools of thought. The roots of where the revenue comes from is the green circle, and this Visual Display of Quantitative Information (thank you Edward R. Tufte) is just a first draft as to how it could work. And I believe this could be applied across the board to other revenue-driven models.

This is the start of a framework for this pay structure. It melds lines of thought into different branches of how to handle the different ways to pay, through the separate schools of thought. The roots of where the revenue comes from is the green circle, and this Visual Display of Quantitative Information (thank you Edward R. Tufte) is just a first draft as to how it could work. And I believe this could be applied across the board to other revenue-driven models.

First of all, the NFL more closely follows this model, by somewhat pooling all their revenue and approaching the distribution of money within the league, the use of salary caps, and the loose philosophy that health of the league as a whole is in the best interest of all teams, and that parity within the league gives all a better chance at winning. Plus it keeps all fans interested, because every year their team has a chance.

Baseball, because of greedy owners and selfish policy, figures it doesn’t have to have that attitude, and that is why there is always (usually) the same teams competing for the playoffs year after year, and why the same teams are the perennial doormats… year after year. These are well-worn paths of philosophy, so I’ll table it for now.

Here’s the way this payment schedule works. Instead of having just one way to pay the players, owners, hot dog vendors, coaches, etc., you divide it up into multiple revenue streams, that are based on philosophies of governance, some with Bad, nasty Names, instead of just one. Can’t you have a Combo Fajita, instead of JUST chicken, beef or shrimp? Why not have all three?

For now, I think ‘Communism, Socialism and (instead of ‘or’)  Capitalism’ are the best descriptors for how each branch works… and in heeding to the symmetry and beauty of sacred numbers and geometry, as nature does, this is more in line than a one-pronged linear solution… except when you are running a vineyard of course. Of course. (lame!)

The first basis of this is by how long a player has played in a league, or been involved with the organization. From Single A ball to all the way up to the Big Leagues, everyone has a minimum starting salary. If you start the year in double AA ball, and you get called up in September, you get big league rookie pay from that day on. All players/employees of the league are rewarded for longevity, and the longer you are in, the more exponentially you are paid.

In the league for more than 20 years? You’re getting huge money, just from this revenue stream alone. I can’t think of any other label to put on this lower, blue section of the graph above but as the ‘communist’ part of the Payment Thought Structure™.

This money is paid out over the course of the year, in weekly or monthly portions.

Next comes the ‘socialist’ part of the payment structure… based upon team performance. Actuaries and statistical geeks who love it will do a much better job of figuring all the ins and outs of the next 2 parts, but each player gets a lump sum for how their team performs during the year, with waves of compensation reverberating to everyone within the organization.

So, that when your team actually wins, it is felt financially throughout everyone involved with the team. And it’s based on total games played over games won, with a value for each game. I guess that’s pretty simple.

Then there is the ‘Capitalistic’ part of the pay structure… based on individual stats. And here is where a player, if he dominates, even if he’s on a team that is in last place, can make his pay count. Based on all the usual statistics, and the newer ones that have come out and been more prevalent in the past ten years, value each individual stat broken down to a point value.

Both the team awards and the individual statistics awards would be handed out at a ceremony after the end of the season, which then would reset to the next season. Injured players would be paid on the trajectory of the way their stats were trending combined with the actual statistics, over games played. Or something like that.

I think this would change the game—bring it closer to perfection, towards what it’s like when you play when you’re a kid. More reckless abandon, guys would try harder, not just during contract years. It would free all our minds from needless distractions. And I’m not saying there isn’t that attitude now – there are plenty of great players who play @ 100% all the time. But I bet you’d notice a difference.

Is this method perfect? Of course not. But this is meant to just get a discussion started – I’m looking for feedback. Feel free to tell me I’m a moron, a dreamer – that it’ll never happen. If you look back into recorded history, that’s what was said about everything that was new, bold, crazy, different. And I’m sure there are other opinions out there that are similar to this in regards to this topic… if you know of any similar rants, feel free to post the links here with a comment. Next Week – part two… Let’s have a discussion people!

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