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Ultimately, the Yankees can afford not only to overpay for the players they want — thereby turning most of the rest of baseball into a vast farm system to replace the traditional minor-league system the Yankees have eschewed nurturing for 15 years — they can also, in one stroke, drive up the market price for every other player in baseball. If a team with more limited resources wishes to sign a player with numbers, say, 80 percent as good as Teixeira's, the price is now 80 percent of what the Yankees threw at Teixeira. The domino effect is staggering. Cleveland knew it had to unload Sabathia because it would not be able to pay him. The Indians traded him to Milwaukee, which mortgaged part of its future in order to have Sabathia for September and October of last year. The Brewers attempted to re-sign Sabathia, thereby getting more for the premium price they paid in trade. But the Yankees opened a large satchel of money, tens of millions more than any competitive bid, and that was that. So two other franchises had to make their personnel decisions involving a great pitcher with the shadow of a large predatory New York franchise hovering over them. That sucks.
So yes, it follows that the Yankees' row of championship banners must be graded on a curve. Having the huge competitive advantage that ALL THREE OTHER U.S. major pro sports have sought to eradicate via salary caps and other checks has to count for something. It is telling, too, that the one team that really has competed with New York economically for the past decade, Boston, has also virtually guaranteed itself a place in the postseason every year.
Confirm or deny: the new stadium
is a reckless cash grab and a poorly designed bandbox which cheapens the meaning of home runs and underscores the fundamental historical myopia of the entire franchise?
I will confirm the problems with the new ballpark. I have what I think is a slightly different twist on the root cause, though. In some ways, it seems the Yankees were TOO concerned with their history here. They tried to cram a modern money-printing machine into a replica of the old stadium, and in the same basic location, and succeeded only in the money-printing part. I think here of the abomination perpetrated on historic Soldier Field in Chicago. Flying over that, that, that THING the first time, I thought it looked as if someone had dropped an oversized bedpan onto the iconic colonnades. It's an awful place, inside and out. The more honest approach for the Yankees would have been to acknowledge that the old stadium was built to capitalize on the popularity of George Ruth and to have honored that spirit openly and built a modern ballpark to capitalize on the popularity of the current players — without getting hung up on aping the physical structure and location with such horrific results.
Is it fair to say that any wine-addled boxcar hobo could do Brian Cashman's job just as easily, and with far greater acuity?
I think most of Brian Cashman's skill set (and this echoes the dear departed Joe Torre) involves coping with various and sundry Steinbrenners in the media hothouse that is NY City. But yes, any shopaholic with a platinum card can fill the closet with nice things. Getting the right things is a very different matter.