The Pirates are stealing money…from the Cardinals

A disturbing story came out of Pittsburgh over the weekend, detailing the profits earned by the Pirates at almost $30 million over the last two years. Particularly disturbing was the report that the Bucs took in $69 million in revenue sharing. Made $35 million a year in revenue sharing, and put $15 million a year in their pockets.

The Pirates quickly got some of the local media together…not including the AP, which broke the story…to tell them that the AP numbers weren’t correct. The records the Pirates showed the Pirates had a net income of $15 million in 2007, $14.4 million in 2008 and $5.4 million in 2009.

I don’t begrudge anyone or any team making a buck. Or a lot of bucks. But the Pirates have set a pro sports record with eighteen consecutive losing seaons, and they haven’t show much inclination to keep players that have a chance to make them better. Brian Giles, Jason Bay, Nate McClouth, Aramis Ramirez and Adam LaRoche are all players that could have helped the Pirates had they been kept around, and the Bucs traded them.

There are two points I have to make here. First, when Bud Selig talked of contraction a few years ago, Pittsburgh is a franchise that should have been brought up. Pirate fans didn’t even show up when the team was good in the early 90’s, and it’s not worth the effort to continue to prop it up.

Second, there should be some sort of requirement that teams have to spend at least what they get in revenue sharing. If the Pirates got $69 million in revenue sharing over the last two years, they should have had to spend at least that much in player salaries. (They did, spending $48 million each season) This season, the Pirates are spending $34 million on payroll, and presumably taking in $35 million in revenue sharing. If they don’t spend that much, then the difference should be returned to teams that paid into revenue sharing.

If the Pirates want to be bad, that’s fine. That’s good for the Cardinals. But if they choose to be terrible on the field, they shouldn’t be allowed to profit OFF the field unless they make that money themselves.