Friday, November 6, 2009

Last Licks

My insides are still slightly effervescent from the World Series win, so today, when the Bombers parade through the Canyone of Heroes downtonw, I'd like to do a little wrap-up.

*The NYTimes goes back in history and ranks every Yankee championship team, from #27 to #1. Interesting stuff.

*NYMag, the Old Gray Lady's kid brother, sorta, does a kid-brotherish piece on the top 10 Yankee moments this season. I was there for #6!

*From ESPN: a surprisingly great article on the Core Four by Jayson Stark, and a Jerry Crasnick feature about the deserving MVP, Hideki Matsui.

I don't have a ton to add that hasn't been said. I could easily wax philosophic about what it means to have Andy Pettitte start the deciding game, and Mariano close it, or about the inspiring nature of Jeter's continued greatness, or the dogged persistence of Jorge, but it all goes without saying.

Oh, here's something: every time the Yankees win a World Series, the teeming world of whiners crawls out from their subterranean tunnel-homes crying a single word in unison: Payroll. On NYYFans, the Yankee message board I frequent on occasion, the topic was brought up by a disgruntled Phillies fan. One of the replies was so good, and so thorough, that I have to post it here. Again, this isn't my material; it belongs to a poster named "Mayner":

Long before they overturned the Reserve Clause, the Yankees were the Evil Empire. They had more money, better scouting, and lifelong holds on DiMaggio, Gehrig, Mantle, Dickey, Berra, et al. Other teams whined that it just wasn't fair, and that they should break up the Yankees.

Then, Lou Brock won a lawsuit, and the rules changed. We now had free agency. And, son of a gun, people are still whining because the Yankees take advantage of the new rules. The old rules weren't fair, and now the current rules aren't fair. Apparently, the only method of signing and keeping players that's "fair," is one where the Yankees don't win.

I've been a Yankee fan for coming up on 50 years. I've lived through last place teams, without ever being embarrassed at my team. I was hardly embarassed when they failed to make the playoffs last year, particularly with all the injuries they had suffered. FritzKekich? Yeah. I remember those guys. I wasn't embarrassed then, either.

Do I like free agency? I do not. Do I like that teams are built based on a checkbook rather than scouting and trades? I do not. But those are the rules. If other teams don't like those rules, they need to change them. But instead, the owners pocket the team's revenue, to include the Yankees' luxury tax, and cry about the unfairness of it all.

The long and the short of it is that I'd rather have the Steinbrenners spend money to assemble a team (in accordance with the rules) than to put that money in their own pocket. I hang on the outcome of every game, all year. I celebrate every win and mourn every loss. But, when my team loses, I don't whine and cry about how unfair it all is.

You can go away now. I'll stay right here and celebrate.

There are two main follow-up points I'd like to make:

1) The Yankees pay a luxury tax for their payroll, which is filtered to the other owners, most of whom don't even invest it in their team! And they don't invest the rest of their revenue either! How anybody can make the Yankees out to be the bad guy in this situation is stunning.

Do you know who the richest owner in baseball is? Carl Pohlad, of the Minnesota Twins. He's one of the richest men in America, in fact. And yet, the Twins are a small-market team with a low payroll, and when they lose each year the entire world feels the need to apologize to them. But it's absurd, because they could be spending the same amount as the Yanks, if not more. They just choose not to. That's a constant around baseball; most owners treat their teams like a business, and try to make optimal profit without breaking the bank. Winning is secondary.

Well it's not in New York. And fans of other teams need to turn their wrath where it belongs, to their own frugal organizations. When George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, he was the 16th richest owner in baseball. That means more than half of the other owners had more disposable income. And yet, the disparity remains. This isn't a Yankee problem, ladies and gents; it's an everybody else problem.

2) Anyone who believes that money alone bought this championship, that chemistry and heart and clutch performance played no role, just wasn't paying attention. And they weren't paying attention from 2004-2008, either, when the Yanks lacked those qualities and didn't win.

Enough said.

It's with great trepidation that I move onto football. My dad and brothers are coming down this weekend, and we're all going to the Meadowlands on Sunday to see the Giants take on the Chargers. After a 5-0 start against horrendously weak competition, the G-Men have lost three straight. The defense looks miserable, and that word probably isn't strong enough. The NFL is a weird league, and things change drastically week to week, so I'm not ready to count them out. But it will be very hard to make the playoffs, much less advance anywhere, unless vast improvements are made defensively.

The unfortunate part is that the defects seem structural; Antonio Pierce is a glaring weakness at linebacker, scads of guys are hurt, new Osi does not look like old Osi, and the secondary is almost comically incompetent. It's really a perfect storm of deficiency. There's no pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers are lost at sea, and the d-backs can't cover anyone. What do you do in that situation? It seems a little hopeless, but again, I like our coaches and there's no need to panic yet. If we lose again, though, I might start panicking. Be ready for that.

LSU at Alabama this weekend, in what looks to be the last real obstacle to the 'Bama-Florida SEC title game. Not sure if I've mentioned it on this blog yet, but I love watching Alabama. Aside from a late-game hiccup against Tennessee, they've been dominating with defense all year long, and there's a professional quality about the them that seems remarkable for a college team. Luckily, this weekend's game is in Tuscaloosa; I really want them to keep winning and take down Tebow University at year's end.

That's that for today. Have a great weekend, go Giants.

No comments:

Post a Comment