KING SALOMON’S COURT: Yankees’ spending spree keeps other teams down
After a difficult nine-year drought, it was a sight for sore eyes when the New York Yankees won their 27th World Series title last week.
Wasn’t it great to see Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the rest of the $206-million team celebrate? What’s more American than that?
Yes, it’s nights like those that cause the spirits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to come out and party like its 1799.
‘But wait,’ you say. ‘I wasn’t happy at all. My team never stood a shot at winning a championship this year and next year doesn’t look much better.’
Well, some might say that’s a mighty un-American thing for you to say, but not here. No, I’ll indulge you.
The argument against the Yankees would probably start with baseball’s idea of parity, which to date is a nice idea that hasn’t really worked. The wealthy teams pay a revenue tax and help support small-market teams such as Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
Boy, is that ever unfair too. Hank Steinbrenner, part-owner of the Yankees, is one of the few souls brave enough to speak out against this practice.
‘I don’t want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it’s the Yankees, the (Boston) Red Sox, (Los Angeles) Dodgers and (New York) Mets,’ Steinbrenner told the New York Post. ‘I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner’s point of view, that’s my point.’
Small-market teams retort that the money they get isn’t enough to keep their free agents.
Two years ago, the Cleveland Indians were one game away from going to the World Series. Now, having been unable to keep aces CC Sabathia (who now has a ring with the Yankees), Cliff Lee and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez, they’re back to square one of the rebuilding process.
Even the Astros haven’t been immune to this. Sure, Drayton McLane usually pockets a good amount of money, but even he didn’t have the wallet to keep Carlos Beltran and sometimes has to look in the bargain bin for pitchers rather than spend top dollar.
With all this in mind, one would think the small and mid-market teams would join up and fight for a salary cap like the NBA and the NFL. But they haven’t, and they’re better off because that would just get some fans’ hopes up. And baseball certainly doesn’t need that.
Besides, even if they brought it up, the players’ union would go on strike at a moment’s notice. Good thing, too. Those salary caps smell a lot like socialized sports.
Sure, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has probably grown since the recession started. On the other hand, have you been to the Yankees’ new $1.5-billion stadium? It’s pretty snazzy.
I’m already thinking of next year too. I’m envisioning Matt Holliday and John Lackey in pinstripes. Can you?