It has once again become crystal clear there are two sets of rules in Baseball: One for the Yankees and one for everyone else. In a matter of hours, ‘The Evil Empire’ handed out almost a quarter of a billion dollars as if they were the Federal Government bailing out Wall Street.
By signing CC Sabathia for 161 million and a marginal pitcher in AJ Burnett for 82 ½ million, the Yankees have once again demonstrated why they are the most despised team in professional sports. Their fans will defend their team by claiming they are hated simply cause they have won so many championships and yes, that is part of it. But there’s more.
They have a history of ‘buying’ players and attempting to ‘buy’ the World Series. To borrow a line from a famous movie, from Babe Ruth to Roger Maris to Roger Clemens, the one constant through all of time has been the Yankees deep pockets.
In all fairness to them, they have the money and they want to win. They have every right to spend it how they choose. However, it is not only a slap in the face to the other teams in Baseball, but to the entire nation.
This is a website dedicated to the Mets. And to Baseball. Not to politics. But Baseball is a business and in the case of the Yankees, a very successful business.
This nation is in the throes of the worst economic times since the 1930′s. Americans are fearful for their own economic future. Saving for retirement years away has taken a back seat to paying this month’s mortgage…if you’re still lucky enough not to have foreclosed on your home. Corporate American icons like Citibank, General Motors, A T & T and B of A are struggling to stay afloat. But the Yankees seem immune…or oblivious to the rest of the world.
Commissioner Bud Selig recently requested that all 30 teams take a hard look at raising ticket prices for the 09 season due to the economy. The Yankees answered by spending $243 million for 2 players! 2 players who will pitch for them in their 1.6 billion dollar stadium which comes fully equipped with a Martini Bar. Some seats will go for several thousands in the ‘new’ Yankee Stadium. Think about it: You can either take your family of 4 to a ballgame…OR…purchase a new car.
The non-Baseball fan or the casual observer frequently remarks about the ‘high salaries’ that players get. I, for one, have never shared in this belief. When all is said and done, the average salary for a major leaguer is not that much more than any other major sport. Also, keep in mind, the Baseball season lasts longer. However, how will the Yankees recent moves reflect on Main Street? Bud Selig has prided himself on trying to maintain a high level of integrity for the National Pastime. It’s not working.
Try to explain this to the ‘man on the street.’ As families struggle to meet monthly expenses, as a single parent works two jobs and has to decide what bill not to pay this month so they can buy a Christmas gift for their child, as a Senior Citizen decides if it’s going to be food or medicine this week and then they try to ‘escape’ from their own worries. They turn on the TV and hear how a pitcher with a 4.07 ERA just was handed $82 million.
In all fairness to our cross-town rivals, perhaps we Mets fans have no room to talk. After all, we had a pretty hefty payroll last season as well. However, there is a difference. Last season, we needed an ace. We got one. This year we needed a closer. We got one. Whereas the Mets spend millions to fill a need, the Yankees spend millions to collect a bunch of big name players.
When the Yankees won 4 Championships in 5 years (96-00), they did it as a ‘team.’ Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Paul O’Neil were not household names. However, since these players have been replaced by better known ‘All-Stars’ like Giambi, A-Rod and Damon, the Yankees have not captured that elusive 27th title. As we Mets fans can testify, big salaries do not mean big rewards. The Phillies had the 11th highest salary last season, the Rays 27th.
CC Sabathia now joins a very select few. Only a handful of pitchers have signed contracts exceeding $100 million. With the exception of Johan Santana, the others (Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown, Barry Zito) have all flopped. It’s also interesting to note that in spite of the great year that Sabathia had, his ERA for the month of October was 7.92. A poor post-season? Hmmm, do I sense another A-Rod?
So, let the Yankees buy up their All-Stars while we build a ‘team.’ In Baseball, the best “TEAM” wins, not the best collection of big names. Don’t believe me? Ask the 69 Orioles who were loaded with All-Stars. And just imagine how sweet it will be when the Yankees very possibly fail again. Who knows? Maybe in 2010, Hank Steinbrenner can dig up Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig and try again.
Or maybe they can kill two birds with one stone: Lets have the Yankees bail-out the American auto industry.