The infallible braintrust that is the Major League Baseball owners have decided that the best way to run the sport is to allow teams to spend as much on players as their little hearts desire. As I assume most readers of this fine blog are avid sports fans, I will spare you the long-winded lecture about the impact that the absence of a salary cap has had on the game. Simply stated, there are "haves" and "have nots." Now, this may come as a shock to some of you Indians fans but we....gasp....are a "have not"... as in, " We regret to inform you that we 'have not' got the money to buy quality baseball players to play for your team."
The recent drunken sailor spending by the Yankees has only served to remind all of us small-market baseball fans that every offseason, we are destined to find a lump of coal, or worse yet, Dave Dellucci in our stocking. But do not feel sorry for yourselves Tribe fans, and all you other small-market loyalists as well, because after much thought, I have decided that I would much rather be a baseball "have not" than a "have." My reasoning is set forth below:
1. So, now that you've just spent the GDP of South America on these guys, how do you enjoy them?
As a sports fan, I've come to realize that winning is fun, but some types of winning are more enjoyable than others. There is no greater feeling in sports than pulling the upset...than exceeding expectations...than growing with your team and watching them go from irrelevant to championship contender (right Cavs fans?). If you're a Yankee fan and your team wins it all in 09, will you enjoy it? Of course you will but you will never experience the pure joy of watching your team succeed organically. You'll never get to experience the indescribable rush of an upset. For a team like the Yanks, every single year, it's World Series or bust . So, at best, the team can meet expectations, but never exceed them. Even though this might be a foreign concept to Cleveland fans, it's not difficult to understand how such inflated expectations might drain some of the fun out of the fan experience.
Moreover, if you're a Yankee fan and suddenly your team is dominant, doesn't it all seem a little premature? Your team went from being a mess to being the best in baseball with a few strokes of a pen. You never got to watch them develop. You never got the joy of realizing for the first time that the team was finally starting to learn how to win. It's almost like a mother that just wakes up one morning and is handed her child. She just skipped the pregnancy and all the bonding that comes with it. She'll never be able to relate to the child in the same way that she would have if she'd gone through the entire process. If I'm a Yankee fan and my team wins it all this year, a part of me would feel like I missed the best part of the journey.
2. Go Mercenaries!
As a fan, when a player makes his mark in the league with your organization, you always feel a special connection to that player for the rest of his career. Now, I'm not saying that a player has to come up through your minor league system to create that connection, but at the very least, his breakthrough moment has to come with your team. Can a Yankee fan ever feel the way about C.C., Burnett, or Teixeira the way we felt about guys like Ramirez or Thome in the 90's (remember, at that time we had no idea Ramirez was completely controlled by Jeff Moorad or that the MLB Players Union would threaten to kill Thome if he turned down the highest bidder), or even about Sizemore right now? The answer is no. Yankees fans can root for their new employees all they want but they'll never have that special fan/player connection.
3. Thank God Steinbrenner has to pay for these guys and not me! Wait? Are you serious?
Yeah, about that bill...See here's how it works. Greedy owner gets a ton of public financing and tax breaks to build a $1.3 billion dollar ballpark. Then, greedy owner claims that he needs a bunch of expensive new talent to justify the absurd ticket prices at said new ballpark. Then, somewhere down the line, greedy owner raises ticket prices again because he claims that he has to be able to afford all of his new toys.
For those of you who aren't finance majors out there, let me simplify that for you. These wonderful free agent signings mean that Yankee fans essentially get to bend over, grab their ankles, and take it in the...wallet. And keep in mind, this will all happen while they thank their lucky stars that they are fortunate enough to be Yankee fans.
4. Finally, the Yankees will be champions again! Really? Well then, um, finally, the Yankees will make the playoffs again!
Actually, about that....yeah, see as it turns out, baseball is a 162 game marathon followed by a complete crap shoot. The first round of the playoffs is 5 games! Think about how absurd that is. Because these series are so short, it basically means that you need three things to win in the playoffs: 1) talent, 2) luck, and 3) brass balls.
Signing big name guys can certainly help a team with element #1. As for element #2, I'm pretty sure that it's out of any team's control. And finally, as for #3, you can definitely improve your "clutchness" through free-agency but I'm not exactly sure that the Yankees have really done it.
C.C. is a notorious postseason pants pisser, and if he couldn't take the hill when it counted in Cleveland or Milwaukee, the urine is sure to be gushing down his legs come October in New York. Historically speaking, you'd be better off sending Paul Byrd out there to start a playoff game than C.C. I won't profess to know too much about Teixeira's clutchness but I'm pretty sure that he wasn't able to get a very talented Angles team over the hump last year. Combine these guys with A-Rod and you have a team that is built around guys that are destined to fail when it matters most.
So, back to Cleveland. As fans, we should be able to draw a few conclusions from this: 1) Combined, these signings will probably make the Yankees are very formidable team in the regular season. As such, they are probably going to make the playoffs. However, given that they're in the AL East, it would seem that Boston should be a lot more upset than we should. If anything, all New York's spending will do is make it a little less likely that the Central will have the wild card team. 2) We should all be thankful that if we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs and meet the Yankees, we'll probably get to go against C.C. at least twice. 3) We can take solace in the fact that even though our team lacks the sex appeal of a team like the Yankees, at least we'll never have to take out a second mortgage to afford a bleacher seat.