12.23.08

Matthews : The Yankees Are Beyond Reality

Posted in Baseball at 9:39 pm by

(this man just lost himself a customer)

I’m through with baseball,” writes Babes Who Love Baseball‘s Lizzy, the Yankees’ $180 million acquisition of Mark Teixeira causing her to pledge,  “I will never pay to watch a game, purchase team merchandise, or read the sports section of any paper that I’m not paid to read.” She has a tough time reconciling the Bombers committing $423 million to free agents this offseason, just months after requesting nearly a half billion in public money towards the completion of the new Yankee Stadium, and while Newsday’s Wallace Matthews echoes these sentiments (“sometimes it seems as if the Yankees inhabit some alternate reality, a bizarro universe in which the AL East race is not a competition among ballclubs but among bankbooks, one in which the recession doesn’t exist, unemployment has been eradicated and depression is a word for shrinks, not sharks.”) the columnist insists that back on Planet Earth, “Boston is no longer the enemy and money is no longer the answer — if, in fact, it ever really was.”

While the dinosaurs of the division were sleeping, the Tampa Bay Rays shot past both of them. The Rays return in 2009 a year older, a year more experienced, a year better. But not a penny more expensive. Unlike the Yankees, they win baseball games the old-fashioned way — on the field, not on the balance sheet.

And the Rays are not alone. Since the last time the Yankees actually won a world championship, 11 of the 16 teams to make it to the Series have come from decidedly middle-market cities, places such as St. Louis and Colorado and Detroit and, oh yeah, Tampa Bay, which until proven otherwise continues to be the best team in the AL East.

Once again, the Yankees remind us that they don’t really want to compete, they want to be coronated. Just hand them the rings now, because on paper, they can’t lose. George Steinbrenner may be out of the loop, but his philosophy of winning is alive and well.

But no one could have imagined the kind of shameless shopping spree the Yankees have been on this month — $161 million for CC Sabathia, $82.5 million for A.J. Burnett and a reported $180 million for Teixeira — at a time when more than 10 million Americans are out of work and another 4 million might join them in 2009.

But no matter. Those 4 million out of work will be offset by another 4 million, the ones who still can afford to pay their way into the new Yankee Stadium. And the luxury boxes, averaging a half-million dollars a pop, are at 100 percent capacity, scarfed up by those corporations who still can afford such luxuries, even if they have to use your tax money and mine to pay for them.

While many of the rest of us are struggling, the Yankees are making so much money that they can afford to give away two exhibition games. Making so much money that their luxury-tax bill for 2008, $26.9 million, is petty cash, slightly less than the Marlins pay for their entire roster and less than the Yankees pay for A-Rod.

Even for the prototypical Yankees fan — and you know who you are and what I’m talking about — this manner of excess is distasteful at best, wastefully insane at worst.

And besides, there’s no evidence that it actually, you know, works.

I guess it depends on how Matthews defines success.  One post season absence in 14 years isn’t too shabby, nor was 4 million paid customers at Yankee Stadium in 2008. I’m hardly in a position to speak on behalf of Yankee fans but I have a sneaking suspicion another 3rd place finish would be considered far more distasteful than the fiscal largess Matthews deplores.

5 Responses to “Matthews : The Yankees Are Beyond Reality”

  1. Augra27 says:

    Every single year, this comes up: “(whine) the Yankees bought another absurd team (whine) for an absurd amount of money (whine)”.

    In what alternate reality (your term, Newsday, not mine) is this new? How is this different than Jackson, Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Ruth or any of the other multitude of “absurdly expensive” New York Yankee off-season purchases? It is not? Just because the dollar figure is enormous does not mean the inflationary value of the funds paid are any different.

    Granted, inflation adjusted (and notwithstanding free agency’s non-existence) Babe Ruth was purchased from the Red Sox for $2,500,000 in today’s scale but 1. that was his purchase from the club and 2. there was not that money in circulation then to equal the inflation adjusted rate of $423 million in free agency deals.

    This is nothing new. This is how the Yankees (a business) continues to be profitable – by attracting visitor’s to the ballpark, attracting viewers and thus advertisers to YES and attracting sponsors to the team in general.

    As a Yankee fan, am I less than pleased with the taxpayer footing of the stadium as well as the Yankees creating their own vertically integrated concessions? Yes. That said, am I very happy the Yankees acquired 2 pitchers who have plagued us for seasons and a top shelf switch hitting Gold Glove First baseman? Damnnnn skippy.

    So quit your whining. This is 89 year old news. Relax.

  2. Chef Salad says:

    What does work? If it isn’t money, then what single defining characteristic will “guarantee” the World Series? There is none, nothing, nada, nyet. St. Louis and Detroit are middle market teams? Okay, but they are teams with upper-echelon payrolls. AND, if they win without a high payroll, the only guarantees for the next years is that the payroll is higher, or the team sucks.

    So why shouldn’t the Yankees spend? They’ll STILL have a lower payroll than last season, having lost the multi-million dollar salaries of Giambi, Pavano, Abreu, Mussina, Pudge, and at this point, Andy Pettitte. That adds up to 90 million dollars, more or less. And why shouldn’t they replace that money with some good players? Weren’t these players being wooed by similar dollar offers from other teams? Weren’t the Red Sox just a few bucks shy on Teixeira? Didn’t the “low market” Nationals enter this fray?

    So again, why not? I am a Yankee fan, but not always enamored of the management’s decisions. Still, getting those pitchers was insufficient without getting a big hitter. Giambi and Abreu hit a combined 52 home runs, 192 RBIs, and .372 on base percentage. They had a significant percentage of the team’s game winning RBIs, and Abreu was a terrific outfielder. He also took a million pitches, and Giambi worked a walk in dozens of clutch situations. They cost over 36 million dollars last year and the Yankees replaced them collectively with Nick Swisher…who hit sub-.220 for the ChiSox.

    If this were your team and you could afford one of the best hitters in the game who happened to be a very good first-baseman (when was the last time the Yankees had one of these?) would you NOT go get him, just so you could seem tasteful?

    Last year was the year of the Yankees young guns…kids who weren’t making the big bucks were to lead the team for the first time since the mid-90s. What happened? What is the correlation between big spending over the last 14 years and the Yankees success?

    The Yankees made the post season for 13 straight years, making the World Series SIX times, and winning it 4 times. This is quite simply the reason to continue to spend: IT CLEARLY DOES WORK.

    PS Yes, I endured my team during the late 60s and early 70s and again through the 80s and early 90s. Every team has its struggles. And money doesn’t always buy success. And money is kind of vulgar, obnoxious, and arrogant…which generally describes the kind of rich people who run professional sports. If you are going to love pro sports, you have to deal with money, and you have to deal with winning and losing. Phooey on those who will abandon their teams because they went out and tried to buy players. The Yankees are the easiest target because they are rich. But like the Dallas Cowboys, Boston Celtics, and Manchester United, those teams with money tend to do very well. Root for your team, rich or poor; don’t let the money have anything to do with your loyalty.

    PS Who are you listening to today?

  3. Kent says:

    I can’t stand the Yankees or their “brand,” but if their management wants to invest that money and those years for Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeira, then let them. Who knows how it’ll work out (see: Damon, J or Pavano, C) for ‘em and it’ll probably keep them from serious future signings (especially if they go after Manny as well). What does make me angry is all the public financing of stadiums. But, if characters on Friends were able to make a million an episode…

    (Also, Manchester United is HUGELY in debt! If they weren’t to make the Champions League, they’d have “financial problems.”)

  4. Greg D. says:

    What’s this “us” crap, “Wallace” doesn’t represent me as much as the man in the moon.

    Because if anyone knows about the people it’s the schmuck who thinks the closing of the chop shops by Shea Stadium is worth a sob story and believes he was the reason Johan Santana came to NY.

  5. I like to kick a plutocrat just like anybody else, but not on an obviously false basis. The Yanks’ multi-year record is impossible to ignore. True enough that the Rays are more inspiring – so don’t walk away from baseball, become a Rays fan. They could use a few during the regular season.

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