Mets Bidder Alex Rodriguez Walks Back Calls for MLB Salary Cap System

In Friday’s Hot Clicks: A-Rod’s bad idea to save baseball, a flood at one of the NHL’s two restart venues and more.
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A-Rod is already thinking like an owner

Nobody has ever made more money playing baseball than Alex Rodriguez. Over the course of 22 seasons in the majors, A-Rod earned nearly a half-billion dollars in salary ($448 million), not to mention endorsements and investments. 

Now that he’s retired, A-Rod is all in on turning that money into more money. He appears on Shark Tank and uses his investment vehicle, A-Rod Corp, to back everything from real estate developments, to Snapchat, to a protein shake bottle created by the Gronkowski brothers. 

His latest venture is an attempt to buy the Mets (with many other investors, including his fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, and a bunch of other pro athletes). A sports team owned by several athletes is an interesting idea. It could be a pro-player sort of team, bucking the trend of ownership trying its hardest to hold players down. Or not. A-Rod is already thinking like an MLB owner. 

On a conference call with reporters Thursday, Rodriguez suggested the key to elevating baseball’s status in the American sports landscape was to have players and owners work together to raise revenues that they would then split evenly.

“The only way it’s going to happen is if they get to the table and say the No. 1 goal, let’s get from $10 to $15 billion and then we'll split the economics evenly,” A-Rod said. “But that's the type of conversation instead of fighting and fighting against each other because there’s too much competition out there right now.”

This sort of revenue-sharing arrangement is a salary cap, which the MLB Players Association has fought against for decades. The absence of such a cap is what allowed Rodriguez to become as rich as he has. But now that he’s on the other side, he sees things differently. 

MLBPA head Tony Clark called out A-Rod in a statement to ESPN.

“Alex benefited as much as anybody from the battles this union fought against owners’ repeated attempts to get a salary cap,” Clark said. “Now that he is attempting to become an owner himself his perspective appears to be different. And that perspective does not reflect the best interests of the players.”

Rodriguez has since clarified his comments, emphasizing that he never said “salary cap.”

“I suggested on the call that both sides—players and owners—work together to make baseball as big as the NFL and the NBA,” Rodriguez said. 

A-Rod is fully aware that baseball is less popular now than it was when he broke in with the Mariners in 1994. 

“Then we had a stranglehold on professional sports. Baseball was 1,” he said on the conference call. “Today the NBA has become an international conglomerate, NFL’s a juggernaut. Back then there was no Netflix, there was no Snapchat, there was no Disney+, ESPN+ and everything they’re doing to attract their attention. So today we have to really work collaborative, with the players and the owners, to say how do we compete together to become No. 1?”

That’s all true, but it’s also nothing the players can fix. It’s all on the owners and the league office. The players aren’t responsible for how MLB failed to adapt to the digital age. The players are the ones trying to inject some excitement and personality into the game. It’s the owners’ fault that it’s not translating into increased interest in the game. While the NFL and NBA sell TV packages that let people watch (more or less) any game they want, MLB’s overzealous blackout policy makes it a pain in the ass to watch your favorite team. In the first half of the last decade, when NBA became the top sport on social media by allowing fans to post clips of game action without fear of copyright claims, MLB went after GIFs and Twitter videos with a vengeance.

There are reasons why baseball isn’t as prominent now as it was when A-Rod was a rookie, but the answer isn’t a 50-50 revenue split. 

That doesn’t look good

We’re about two weeks away from the NHL holding exhibition games in its two hub cities as it prepares to restart the season. Let’s check in on Edmonton, one of the hubs. 

Ah. 

Edmonton was rocked by severe thunderstorms last night that left the entrance to the Oilers’ arena completely flooded. 

The Oilers are still assessing the extent of the damage but say it shouldn’t keep them from hosting games.

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Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.