Thursday, June 7, 2007

6-7-07 MLB Draft

Just killing a little time before the first television broadcast of the MLB Draft. Exciting! Of all the sports with drafts (well, all professional sports), baseball has the most boring and meaningless of them all. It has historically been a conference call among all teams, and it goes by fast. I think it's 90 seconds per pick. That's efficiency. That's something I've admired. Now they want to showcase it, which I can't blame them for.

But the real problem is this: it's meaningless. With the invention of free agency years ago, the role of the draft in professional baseball has become nothing more than a feeder system for MLB in general. Players move around so much, at every level, that if the Red Sox were to pick Joe Schmidt (fictional character), he could very well pass to three different teams before eventually make his MLB debut with the Red Sox, years later. Here is how baseball compares to the other major sports, and the roles of their drafts:

Hockey - next to baseball, it's the least spectacular draft. Though, it has a great deal more meaning. Young players dominate hockey, and a top draft pick can have a definite influence the very next year. Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is the best example of this. At 19, he won the Art Ross (scoring title) in his rookie season.

Basketball - probably the biggest of all drafts as far as popularity, and rightly so. Young draft picks like LeBron James can have huge impacts on their teams in next to no time. With no real minor league to speak of (does college count?), the NBA has had big names come directly out of high school (Kobe Bryant and the aforementioned King James). They've changed that rule, wisely. Now you have to be 19 or one year of college. And, with so many European and other international players, the NBA draft is a hotbed of talent.

Football - right up there with the NBA draft. The thing I really like about the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL, is the salary cap. It plays a huge role in how the draft is done, and just how fair the playing ground is. Top draft picks usually take a year or so to develop, but, like in the NBA, they have a foreseeable effect on the team they are drafted to.

In general, with no salary cap, the MLB draft is just a means to bring new talent into the two major leagues. Young players are mostly used as trade bait. It's a meaningless draft so far as to see which teams will succeed in the near future. If anything, the top draft pick MAY have an effect on SOME team in two or three years. My bet: next year's draft won't be on TV.

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