I would like to preface this article by saying just how happy I am to see the old Yankee-Red Sox debate currently being played out in The Hatchet. I find it extremely appropriate that this argument, usually reserved for drunks in bars, has now found its way to the pages of our precious school newspaper. That being said I would like to weigh in with some comments of my own, if for nothing more than to keep the debate raging on.
On Oct. 30, Zach Leibowitz wrote a piece titled, Destiny, baseball and the Yankees. In the article, Leibowitz attempted to liken Yankee dominance to some kind of divine right. Almost as if someone or something has arbitrarily chosen the Yankees to lead baseball to the Promised Land. This type of rhetoric and propaganda is not uncommon from Yankee lovers such as Leibowitz. They will repeatedly say it is their destiny and solely their fate that they win year in and year out. They say this only to disguise the more ugly and bitter truth.
The fact is fate and destiny have absolutely nothing to do with Yankee championships. In reality Yankee fans owe their good fortune to cold, hard cash. In fact, I think it would be appropriate if every year around this time New Yorkers sent big thank you cards to the U.S. Treasury for printing up all those nice greenbacks Big Daddy Steinbrener uses to buy his championships.
According to Leibowitz, Destiny only belongs to one team. However, based on the following numbers, it might have been more appropriate to write, Money only belongs to one team.
In 1999 the Yankees became the first team in the majors to average $3 million dollars a player. At that time, they had an average salary of $3,217,914, $400,000 more than any other team and a 44 percent jump from their $2.23 million average when they won the first of their consecutive World Championships in 1998. New York’s average was more than six times that of the two teams at the bottom of the salary list, Kansas City ($529,460) and Montreal ($538,258). And if that’s not enough, know that the Yankees pay Bernie Williams as much as the whole Royals roster combined, minus three players.
For those of you who still do not believe having money and winning are interrelated, chew on this: among the teams in the bottom half by average salary, only two had winning records – Cincinnati (96-67) and Oakland (87-75) – and no team with a payroll less than $48 million made the playoffs. In fairness, a team that makes poor personnel decisions and has trouble filling its stadiums surely bears some of the blame for its failure. However, by and large small market teams have lost their players not because of dumb trades and cuts but because they simply lacked the capital to compete against the all-mighty, all-powerful Yankees.
This is why it disgusts me when I hear people say the Yankee teams of the ’90s should be considered a dynasty. The word dynasty should be reserved only for those who consistently persevered on an equal playing field. Teams like the Celtics, Canadians and Packers found ways to be great with no other advantage than hard work, practice and discipline. Just because you can go out and buy yourself an all-star team every year does not mean you are a dynasty; it just means you are rich.
Soon there will be revenue sharing in Major League Baseball similar to that in the NFL, where parity has made it the most-watched sport in America. The idea of salary caps and revenue sharing may be repulsive to big market teams such as the Yankees. But television ratings for MLB are down, and average attendance at ball games is approaching an all-time low. Fans in cities like Pittsburgh, Montreal and Kansas City will eventually throw up their hands and quit watching because their fate is sealed year after year before the season even begins. And if this happens, these teams will eventually fold.
That being said, my message to Yankee fans everywhere would be this. Congratulations. You bought the best team money could buy, again. And surprise, you won it all. But remember one thing. Your greed and lust for winning is ruining our national pastime and the very organization that you depend on to make your precious money. So be careful, and keep in mind that the Yankees will always need baseball a lot more than baseball will ever need the Yankees.
-The writer is a junior majoring in international economics.