If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. Drafts ensure an equal distribution of talent.

But is it really true?

The concept behind drafts in the major sports is that the teams with the worst records receive the top picks in the annual draft of amateur players. In baseball and football, this is as simple as assigning the top pick to the team with the worst record. Basketball employs a lottery system. The worst teams receive more ping pong balls in the lottery, but they are not guaranteed the top pick.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, you probably spotted the moral hazard. If you’re having a bad season, it can be a good move to intentionally lose games late in the season in order to get a good pick in the draft.

Let’s take a deeper look at the core assertion that drafts ensure an equal distribution of talent. This isn’t true, of course. The best that the draft process can hope to do is produce parity in terms of win-loss records. Some organizations are simply much better at maximizing talent than others. Throw a bad coach and GM into the mix, and the team will easily under-perform the level you’d expect based on the talent.

There’s another question to be addressed – even if drafts did ensure an equal distribution of talent, should this be a goal of a league? If your team allows stars to leave via free agency, makes bad trades, and makes inefficient use of the players, should the league bail you out by handing you high draft picks each year? This really amounts to a subsidy of the bad teams at the expense of the good ones.

What’s my solution? Throw all the team names in a hat and randomly draw to determine the draft order.

OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, and could lead to massive apathy for some teams that struggle to improve. However, at the very least, baseball and football should adopt a lottery similar to the NBAs.

The Resin Bag

Like Johnny Goodman, I was a bit surprised to see Tim Tebow taken with the #25 pick in the draft. I’m not as down on Tebow as Johnny. I think he’s a project that could pay dividends down the road. However, you don’t take projects in the first round, particularly with better QBs still available.

I was hoping the Rams would break from conventional thought and nab Texas QB Colt McCoy with the top pick in the 3rd round (McCoy was taken by the Browns later in the 3rd round). It’s true that the Rams have a lot of holes, and that spending two high picks on quarterbacks is a luxury. However, picking a franchise quarterback can be a real crapshoot.  (For the latest proof of this, look in JaMarcus Russell’s direction).  If Sam Bradford fails, the Rams may be back to the drawing board in a few years, using another #1 pick on a quarterback. McCoy would have given the Rams a second roll of he dice for a lower price. Not only that, but he could have pushed Bradford for the job, bringing out the best in both players.  It’s hard for a sense of entitlement to set in when there is another quality young QB gunning for your job.  After years of battling in the Big 12 South, it would have been interesting to see them battling in training camp.

Iowa State basketball coach Greg McDermott left for a new job as the coach at Creighton. McDermott had a very successful run as the coach of UNI, but his Iowa State teams never won more than 15 games, and the patience of the fans was growing a bit thin.

After McDermott left, the ABC station in Ames began to report the news that favorite son Fred Hoiberg was being considered for the vacant Iowa State job. Hoiberg went to Ames High School before becoming one of the most popular players in the history of the program. His nickname was “The Mayor.” My business law professor was he actual mayor of Ames at the time, and he even referred to Hoiberg as “The Mayor”.  Hoiberg doesn’t have any hands-on coaching experience, but he did spend the last few years in the front office of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard signed a 5 year contract extension that pays him $25 million per year.  Seen licking him chops after the announcement was Cardinals first baseball Albert Pujols, who will become a free agent after the 2011 season.  Pujols is a better offensive and defensive player than Howard and could command upwards of $30 million per year.

Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will finish the month of April with a record of 5-0 and  0.79 ERA.  If those numbers aren’t enough to warrant the National League Pitcher of the Month honors, perhaps his no-hitter will push him over the edge.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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