Thursday, January 15, 2009
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Some baseball owners call for salary cap

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[January 15, 2009]  PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) -- Some baseball owners say it may be time to reconsider a salary cap after the New York Yankees spent nearly a half-billion dollars on free agents during a recession that may cause some teams to retrench.

Insurance"I would ask, if it's such a bad idea, what sport doesn't have a salary cap other than us?" Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said Wednesday.

A salary cap isn't on the agenda of the major league owners meetings this week. But it could become an issue when the present collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2011 season -- especially if the economy worsens.

"I think there's a lot of owners that would like to have that right now," Oakland owner Lew Wolff said. "I think the parity is what we're looking for, and the more ways you can get to parity the better. I think it's pretty good now, but I think it could be better.

"It's a very good question, because maybe this recession, depression, whatever we're in may be a change for a lot more years," Wolff said.


The bleak economy was on the owners' minds as they gathered at an exclusive mountainside resort to begin two days of meetings. Owners compared notes on ticket sales and sponsorships and other indicators of the economy's squeeze.

Wolff said the Athletics' ticket sales are down about 10 percent from a year ago. The Brewers lost Mercedes-Benz as a sponsor but added a presenting sponsorship agreement with Potawatomi Bingo Casino -- part of an expected double-digit percentage gain in sponsorship revenue.

A salary cap wouldn't solve baseball's economic issues. But some owners say it would give smaller markets a fair shot at signing top talent.

"There's no question that, a market like Pittsburgh, a salary cap would be advantageous," Pirates owner Bob Nutting said. "And if that were a direction that the industry were moving, it would be advantageous to Pittsburgh, but it can't be the primary focus of how we're running our business this year and next year and the following year. We need to stay focused in the real world and not use that as an excuse."

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Not all owners are critical of the Yankees' acquisition of pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and infielder Mark Teixeira.

"I've been asked about the Yankees' spending," Chicago Cubs chairman Crane Kenney said. "I have no problem with what they've done. They've done it within the rules, within the confines of our agreement.

"And if you look at the reality there, they've got a $1.3 billion stadium coming online," Kenney said. "They were probably relying on Wall Street to fill a lot of those seats. And they missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. So their reaction is probably similar to what I would do, which is, you've got to put a compelling product on the field when you open the doors of that new ballpark, and that's what they did. Listen, they played within the rules, so I have no issue with it."

[Associated Press; By ANDREW BAGNATO]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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