Defending the Yanks

The New York Yankees always seem to be associated with large numbers. Thirty-eight American League pennants, 26 World Championships and $180 million payroll. We all know they’re good, and we all know they have a lot of money. Get over it.

Every time a major publication mentions the Yankees in post-season play, their payroll statistics are sure to follow. Before the 2003 American League Division Series (ALDS) began, The New York Times’ Yankees beat writer, Tyler Kepner, could not talk about the upcoming contest between the Twins and the Yankees without mentioning the monetary differences.

The Associated Press labeled the Yankees as “big-budget”, and Minnesota Twins infielder Doug Mientkiewicz mentioned “big-name guys, payrolls and superstars” when talking about Minnesota’s 3-1 win over the Yankees in game one of the American League Division Series.

The “big-budget” Yankees did end up winning the next three games after their game one loss to the Twins, advancing them to the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.

I’m not going to hide that I am a lifelong Yankees fan – I think that would be impossible. I am just as stubborn and argumentative as those two guys that sing the infamous “How Ya Doin'” song every year the Yanks are in the World Series.

But it’s not just pinstripe fever that makes my blood boil every time I see payroll statistics. As a baseball fan, I think it’s time to either let go of the money politics or do something about it.

The Yanks are currently playing for yet another World Series bid, and all anyone can talk about is the money they’ve spent. A century from now, the record books are going to show a dynasty that won three World Series in a row from 1998-2000, and four in the past eight years. This is an admirable accomplishment no matter how many zeros are on that payroll figure. But this does not ring true to many baseball fans.

I’m speaking to those fans now. Either enjoy some great baseball and history in the making or convince baseball commissioner Bud Selig to implement a salary cap.

With the amount of attention paid to the Yankees’ payroll, we might as well add an asterisk to their entry in the record books.

1998-2000 World Champions: New York Yankees*

*Also had largest payroll in baseball

That would really keep America’s pastime as pure and free from politics as possible.

Or even better, when the league standings are published in the daily newspapers, why don’t we just put the payroll of each team next to the wins and losses? Readers can determine the best team in terms of dollars and cents rather than winning percentage.

At this point in the season, the only numbers I want to see are batting averages, fielding percentages and pitching records. Payrolls have been a topic of discussion since before spring training began, so let’s just drop it and enjoy the best teams in baseball playing for the ultimate goal.

I want to open up the sports page and read about grand slams and diving catches, not contracts and dollar signs. I want to read about the reasons why the Yankees are the best team in baseball right now. Not one of those reasons should be their paychecks.