Burns: You get what you pay for
The Yankees were the best team in baseball this year.
Well….you know what they say.
You get what you pay for.
Call it like it is, the Yankees paid for a World Series by shelling out a half billion dollars in the offseason. What's funny, in a your-car-is-stuck-in-the-mud kind of way is that ever since Big Daddy Warbucks and the Yankees lost to the D-backs in 2001, that's all they've done. Throw gobs of cash at the problem to try and fix it.
In some ways it's kind of embarrassing that it took them this long to get it right.
But, let's also call it like it is: The Yankees have done nothing wrong. They haven't operated outside the rules, breached any barriers or violated any agreements. They are completely operating within the framework of the system.
(I just thought of that scene from The Untouchables where the Canadian Mounty gets all huffy with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery for their interrogation techniques. Shooting a guy, who is already dead, in the head one last time to spook their prisoner. "Sir! I do not approve of your methods" "Yeah?" says Costner, "Well you're not from Chicago.")
I don't approve of the Yankees methods but if I were them? I'm doing the same thing.
There were two questions I was kicking around this morning over cup-of-coffee #27 and my oatmeal: Are the Yankees good for baseball? (confession….I heard Doug and Wolf debating that one this morning)
And, are the Yankees the reason why the NFL is so popular? (saw that one on a Yankee-hater website)
I know this, the Yankees are good for the business of baseball. TV Ratings were huge. Water cooler conversation. Buzz. Q Rating. Call it what you want. When the Yankees are in the mix, people pay attention. Casual, soft-core sports fans are attracted to polarizing teams. And goodness knows the Yankees are polarizing.
I think hard-core baseball fans like me get a little tweaked when the team with the biggest payroll wins the biggest prize. I don't play much poker, but I play enough to know that the guy with the most chips usually can bully all the other players.
As for question number two, is that the reason why the NFL has surged past baseball? Because the Yankees fly in the face of the NFL parity model?
Look at the World Series matchups since the Yankees last won World Series #26. D-backs/Yankees. Angels/Giants. Marlins/Yankees. Red Sox/Cardinals. White Sox/Astros. Cardinals/Tigers. Red Sox/Rockies. Phillies/Rays. Yankees/Phillies.
13 different teams, count the '2000 Yankees/Mets series and it's 14. In a league with 30 teams, nearly half of baseball made it to the World Series in the last decade.
Parity isn't the problem. The problem is that there are only four baseball teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and maybe the Dodgers) that the casual sports fan gets amped about. The problem is that once football season starts, it's like an eclipse. Fans, soft and hard core, eat up the NFL. It's flashy, violent, looks great on TV. It's a gladiator sport. You can gamble on it. You probably run a half- dozen fantasy teams. It's a more entertaining product. If I were ranking the top 10 reasons why the NFL is so beloved, parity would check in somewhere around #8.
More parity won't help baseball. If anything it will drive the ratings down even further because the casual fans don't give a hoot about the White Sox and the Astros. If you could guarantee that the Yankees or Red Sox would play the Dodgers or the Cubs every year in the World Series, the buzz would be back.