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Tanking: The Art Of The Rebuild |
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7/13/17 1:10 PM
For many years following WWII 1945-1980, hardly any teams were known to have purposely set themselves up to finish in contention for the worst record in their respective sports league.
Then there were rumors that the 1983-84 Pittsburgh Penguins unloaded some of their better players in trades so they could beat the New Jersey Devils to the cellar, thereby getting the first pick in the following NHL draft, where phenom (what they now like to call "generational player") Mario Lemieux lay in waiting.(Then a lottery for the draft would be considered, then implemented several years hence).
The Indianapolis Colts had their "Suck for Luck".
The current Houston Astros seem to be the analytics model for rebuilding a team. They lost a ton of games for three straight years, then, with great draft picks and other good young prospects, they are currently the best team in baseball.
Deal veteran players to contending teams, get as many young assets in return, and wait for them to blossom.
Sounds simple. Always made sense to me but foolish, impatient team owners foiled the plans of many of their personnel people back in days gone by.
But the media has gotten more diverse. They are brighter. Technology has helped. This has trickled down to the fans, who, with their supercomputers in hand, have themselves become more savvy and enlightened. Witness the scheme playing out before our eyes concerning the 2017 New York Jets. It is now assumed that the team will tank this season to jet-propel their rebuild. And polls suggest most of their fan base is hip to that--something that fans (remember "fan" is short for fanatic) had not been receptive to back in time.
This is helping teams in their rebuilding schemes. But leagues best be wary of too many games becoming noncompetitive.
The remedy: Have an NHL-style salary cap, with a floor and ceiling, offer sheets for RFA'S with similar compensation, etc., but then remove the draft order for the first round. Instead, pick numbers randomly to decide the draft order. Tell the teams the results of the draft order three weeks in advance, so they may prepare accordingly. For the second round and beyond, the draft selection goes as it currently does.
This will prevent teams from trying to finish last or almost last in their league. The NHL-style salary cap will almost ensure competitive balance, which most owners desire.
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