"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love US Steel

It is cold and now dark in New York but there is plenty of heat being generated by the afternoon news that Mark Teixeira has agreed to an eight-year deal with the Yankees.  My friend Rich Lederer, an Angels fan, called me from the golf course in California.  He was not happy.  He practically yelled on the phone he was so irritated.

How can you root for a team that has such an uneven financial advantage?  How is that fun?  Where’s the competition in that? 

“I hope they lose every single game,” Pat Jordan said to me when I called with the news a few hours later.  Both men, incidentally, are Republican, but they are also both rebellious, outsiders, self-made men.  They aren’t the kind that get off rooting for US Steel.

Yet here I am, a New York Liberal, and yet US Steel, that’s my team.  I used to have guilt about it, for years it worried me.  Then I grew up.  What’s the use feeling guilty?  You have accept what is.  Professional baseball isn’t a game.  The Yankees are out to win, every year, forever.  Isn’t that why Ban Johnson created the Highlanders in the first place?  They will spend whatever it they have to spend.  They pay a big luxury tax in return.  They might offend everything you stand for.  So be it.  I get it.

I like being a Yankee fan.  If Yankee fans are cursed by anthing, it is the teams’ ruthless ambition and unyielding arrogance.  The curse for a rational-minded Yankee fan is that you are rooting for the front-runner, the bullies. And if you are overly neurotic you will question what that says about your moral fiber.  So, we listen to other fans ridicule our team as something less-than-wholesome, something corrupt. 

As far as curses go, it’s not so bad.   After all, being a Yankee fan also means knowing, feeling in your bones, that you’ll see your team win again, and probably some time soon.  Which is not to say that it will happen, but Yankee fans feel as if it should, and, inevitably, that it will happen.  Being a Yankee fan also means wishing for, and often getting, big, fat, expensive Christmas presents like a CC or a Teixeira.  Sometimes, the toy doesn’t make it out the box before it breaks–Don Gullet, Jose Contreras, Carl Pavano.    

But you can’t predict the future and for the moment, all you can say is that you feel pretty warm in a cold, hard world.

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1 RIYank   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:13 pm

David Pinto links to a page he made of the best line-up for the Yankees, based on his line-up analysis tool and Bill James' projections for the players. It's amazing. Check this out:

Go figure. It generates an expected 6.919 runs/game. You can give away 4/1000 of a run per game and take this one instead:


Monkeypants' line-up (in the previous thread, one of the line-ups you might actually expect to see next year) gives away about a tenth of a run.

2 The Hawk   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:18 pm

[1]Yes, familiar feelings. It's a thankless fandom, except when it's not.

3 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:28 pm

While I am not totally shocked by the signing, I was very surprised by the timing (also, learning of a big deal is always more fun when listening to sports talk rather than reading minute-by-minute updates on a website). While the Yankees were always rumored to be in the mix, that sounded more like speculation than reality. I guess the Yankees basically told Boras to do their horse and pony show and then get back to them with the best offer, ala Beltran. I guess this time, the Yankees decided they could afford both the pitching and the offense. Then again, I don't think it was even a pitching vs. offense or even Manny vs. Tex issue, but rather a Holliday versus Teixeira debate. I think Teixeira is the better player, so I am glad they opted for Tex, especially because the Yankees have no more draft picks to lose this season.

4 Raf   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:36 pm

The curse for a rational-minded Yankee fan is that you are rooting for the front-runner, the bullies.

And where were they in the 80's and early 90's? Where were these people in the mid-late 60's and mid 70's?

Cry me a flippin river... Would it have been better if the "small market Red Sox" landed Tex?

Don't hate, congratulate :)

5 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:39 pm

As for U.S. Steele, well, I am sorry, but I don't feel any guilt whatsoever. The Yankees earn their money from baseball and spend their money in baseball. It would make no logical sense for the Yankees to not spend excessively to ensure that the largest and richest market for the game is actively engaged in the sport. If the other owners of other teams really feel so disadvantaged, they could vote to surrender their territorial rights and allow more teams to enter the NY market. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that.

As for the answer to Lederer's questions, well, the competition comes from the Yankees mandate to win every year. In a sense, the Yankees are competing against the field. They are the thoroughbred, the bellwether, the gold standard. Like with the Boston rivalry...it isn't/wasn't enough to win most of the time...the Yankees had to win all the time. In a sense, the Yankees competition is really with their past...living up to their standard of excellence is enough motivation for me as a fan...and believe me, there is A LOT of fun in that.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:44 pm

I think in the 80s fans loved piling on the Yanks, but I recall one Yankee telling Richard Lally that in the late 60s when nobody CARED about hating the Yankees, how strange it was. People don't have anyone to pile on if they can't bash the Yanks.

Yeah, william, props go to Cashman for being TOTALLY stealth on this one. I'm not shocked. All around, they made all the right moves. Got their two targets, systematically with a cool head. This is Cash's finest moment don't you think?

7 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:44 pm

Wow!! Heavy news to read first thing in the morning at my office!! Need to go back and read all the Banter comments...

The Yankees are now a much better team in 2009 than last year...

8 Yankster   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:48 pm

My favorite Olney sentence: "Around the rest of baseball, the highest free-agent contract belongs to Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who will receive $52 million over four seasons to remain at Wrigley Field."

This isn't embarrassing because it's a lot of money, it's embarrassing because the money isn't reflected in post-season play.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:48 pm

[4] That's another point. Putting aside the old reference, the Yankees may be Microsoft, but where were all the critics when the "company" was a struggling start-up? Teams should be copying the Yankees (regardless of their market's scale)...not resenting them.

Finally, I have no sympathy for the argument that laments the fate of the Pirates, Reds, Brewers and even Royals and A's. The last time I checked, the Yankees can't win their division. The AL teams do compete for the Wild Card, but teams like the Reds actually benefit from the Yankees because they suck talent out of the entire NL...directly and by virtue of ther AL teams having to keep up. If anything, keeping up with the Yankees has probably contributed the "parity" we see in the NL today.

10 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 23, 2008 7:57 pm

I would much rather have the Yankees spend on their players than let the money go into their pockets. I'm very grateful the Steinbrothers are the same as their Dad in this regard. Better that than a Billionaire that fails to add an extra $12 million to an offer.

And with Damon and Matsui coming off the books next year ($26 million), I see no reason they can't also be in on Holliday with at least two OF positions to fill.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:01 pm

[6] I know most will say Cashman simply spends the Steinbrenner cash, which is true, but I also think he did a great job closing deals, and I think that does require a certain skill. Besides, Theo basically called Boras' bluff and lost a player they really wanted for about $1-2mn per year. Was that difference worth losing out on the player?

12 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:02 pm

That argument is the one I use with Yankee haters - would you rather a greedy owner or a zealous spender. Every fan I know would choose the latter, and they're lying if they say otherwise. The point is: The Steinbrenners can only be one or the other.

I'm not particularly pleased with the contract, especially since I expect it to hamstring the organization in years 5 through 8 when a Pujols will be available, but no one can argue it makes the team better next year and the year after.

13 seamus   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:09 pm

Haven't gotten into the comments yet but great post Alex! Many sentiments I can relate to.

14 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:13 pm

[12] Absolutely agree! Small-market complaints are bogus..isn't Carl "Mr. Burns" Pohlad one of the richest men in America, yet the Twins avoid free-agents??

Someone mentioned in the earlier comments about an article bashing the BoSox front office for whiffing on Tex..any links for that??

15 Just Fair   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:24 pm

I am never going to root for the richest guy on my block to get richer, but he doesn't play baseball.

16 seamus   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:29 pm

[14] they aren't bogus. obviously the Yankees owners make more off the team than other owners. However, I will say that the small market teams don't do all that they can to succeed in many cases.

I do agree with a salary cap of some kind. Regardless, I of course love my Yankees!!!

17 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:34 pm

A salary cap would disproportionately hurts the players. That's why there isn't one already. Greedy owners would be even greedier. The current system works just fine. The Yankees have had a $200 million payroll for how many years now? And the Rays made the series this year.

18 ChrisS   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:35 pm

Before we go breaking a hand patting the Steinbrenners on the back for spending a lot of money on baseball players, I think that's it's kind of impossible to say that the Steinbrenners are doing something other teams are not vis-a-vis putting the money back into the team. Without seeing the books it's quite possible the Yankees are working with a similar year-to-year profit margin, but with astronomically higher revenues. Other teams are playing the same game, it's just not at the same park.

Pohlad's not spending his personal fortune on the Twins, but neither are the Steins, I'd wager. Some teams can emulate the Yankees, but ther's no competing with a team that can charge $2,500 a seat and has its own cable station (yes, the Braves and Cubs come to mind, but again, without seeing the books it's tough to make that call).

In the end, Steinbrenner bought his share of the team for $10 million, just prior to cable and higher broadcast revenue, paid money for a winner, and is now sitting on a billion dollar franchise with new stadium that can afford a $200 million dollar payroll.

19 Raf   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:38 pm

[11] While his trade record is perhaps spotty, Cashman has landed useful parts like Scott Proctor, Nady/Marte, David Justice, etc.

20 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:39 pm

[19] you left out Wacky Wilson Betemit..

21 RIYank   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:46 pm

[18] I don't know why you say the Steins aren't spending their personal fortunes. The Yankees aren't publicly owned. The profits are, by definition, the Steinbrenners' personal fortune.

Obviously other teams don't have the Yankees' revenues, but the previous posters' point (at least as I understand it) is that the Steins don't have to spend those revenues. They could pocket the money instead.

22 RIYank   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:47 pm

[20] But also Bobby Abreu.

23 rbj   ~  Dec 23, 2008 8:47 pm

Given the state of the economy, I will root for US Steel. And GM. Would you rather an owner sit on his fat wallet, a la Carl Polhad, or actually give a damn about the fans and want them to have a winner.

24 Rich   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:08 pm

Think of the Yankees' offseason as a stimulus package for MLB.

25 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:14 pm

I know pretty much zero about macro & micro-economics but...unless the new Stadium ends up being a financial albatross that sits half-empty, aren't the Yankees an example of a brilliantly-run business?? Perhaps someone can put out some links about the internal finances of Yankees, Inc... but it seems to me in this day and age when financial-whiz MBA's have all been revealed as wearing the Emperor's New Clothes, the Yankees are a profitable business with a very happy customer base, us fans...maybe instead of being bashed, they should be respected?

..or I am just looking for ways to justify our financial advantages?? ah feck it, who cares, we're going to smash Boston and Tampa next year with this staff and lineup!

26 Rich Lederer   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:21 pm

Congratulations Yankees fans. I'm happy for you. NOT. The mighty dollar won out again. And the Yankees have more dollars than any other team in baseball. I don't have a problem with that per seA As I told Joseph Decaro at Mets Merized Online in an interview last week in response to a question as to whether the system needs to be fixed:

"Look, as a capitalist, I'm totally fine with a team like the Yankees paying a gazillion dollars for guys like Sabathia and Burnett [and now Teixeira]. However, baseball isn't a true free market. It's a closed economy. A private country club, if you will. For example, if you and I wanted to put a new team in New York, Major League Baseball wouldn't allow it. Therefore, it's not a free market at all. The truth is, there should be more than just two teams in the New York City area. At least three. Maybe four or even five. Think about it for a minute. If there were several teams in New York dividing up the fan base, corporate market, and broadcasting revenues, the Yankees' and Mets' competitive advantage would dissipate in a hurry.

On the one hand, the baseball fan in me doesn't want more teams in New York and fewer franchises in smaller markets around the country. On the other hand, I don't like the fact that the large-market clubs have more resources than everyone else. The solution to this dilemma is that the playing field needs to be leveled one way or the other. Major League Baseball can accomplish this via a free market approach or by capping payrolls at a much lower level and/or re-distributing revenues to a much greater degree. Unfortunately, the New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago teams are never going to allow the first or third ideas, and the MLBPA won't even hear of the second. Therefore, like it or not, we're just going to have to learn to live with the way things are now (or at least something close to it)."

With respect to my phone call to Alex, I was just giving him a hard time. The Yankees are only a Manny Ramirez away from being able to compete with the Angels. And don't give me any of that pre-2002 stuff. ;-)

P.S. - You might want to find another corporate name other than U.S. Steel. The stock price has dropped from a high of $196 to $34. It hasn't been a particularly good company now for decades. I would just hate it if the Yankees followed X's lead.

27 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:27 pm

Who is Karim Garcia?

(had to throw that in there)

28 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:35 pm


Except in that country club there are plenty of members wealthier than the Steinbrenners, including Moreno (and Henry and Pollad), who choose not to risk whatever small profit they're assured to extend themselves financially. That's their choice, but I'll take the zealousness of the Steinbrenners, thanks.

Meanwhile, many recent teams (Rays, Cards, Marlins, D'backs - conversely the Mets, Dodgers and even the Yankees) have shown that the dollar in baseball doesn't mean much other than increasing salaries across the board. Any fan that argues otherwise is merely covering up for the ineptitude of their own favorite organization.

29 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:36 pm

[1] I've been cited! Actually, I was just posted what I thought would be a typical lineup. I would love to see Jeter leading off, etc.

[4] [26] US Steel analogies or whatever...there is something delicious about the Yankees making this huge splash on the same day that ESPN et al posted their 27 million dollar luxury tax pay off.

Everyone bitches about the Yankees money, except when they cash the luxury tax checks or watch the sell out crowds fill the stadiums where the Yanks visit.

30 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:42 pm

One more note: With the final figures coming out, it simply seems like Teixeira wanted to be a Yankee (like Beltran before him). Shocking, I know. The other teams were so close that I have to imagine that if he had wanted to go to any of them the deal would have gotten done. We'll know soon enough, but I wouldn't be shocked to hear that Teixeira wanted pinstripes above all else. A difference of $10-20 million was a very minor hurdle if he wanted to play elsewhere.

And that's the thing with the three free agents this off-season. Sabathia could have had the same money elsewhere (if the Angels got involved or the Dodgers were better run). Burnett did have the same contract offer from the Braves. And Teixeira had essentially the same offers from three other teams. Somehow the Yankees look bad because all three wanted to end come to them (with only money differentiating itself in the Sabathia case)? Please.

31 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:43 pm

[29] Monkeypants, if you're a drinking man (or woman) then raise a toast? This is the first time I can remember us agreeing, and about TWO things (Jeter leading off, and your last point about the luxury tax!)

32 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:45 pm

[31] I will take you up on that brother...right now. : )

33 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:49 pm

[32] nice, I've got to wait till evening over here though. neighbors already think am crazy for running down the hallway shouting "Tex, Tex,Tex!" repeatedly

34 Joel   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:49 pm

The expectations on this team will be huge. The ownership and GM are off the hook for now. They gave us everything we could have wanted.

We should remember that the 2008 Yankees weren't as good as their 89 wins suggest. This is a team that hovered 5, 7, 10 games above .500 most of the season. There were a lot of wins late in September when the pressure was off and the team was essentially eliminated. The Yankees wilted under pressure last year, posting RISP numbers that were starkly lower than 2007 and 2006.

The drama of 2009 now shifts to the young, intense manager who still lingers in the shadow of his Hall-of-Fame predecessor. A blue collar-type as a player, how will he handle a virtual fantasy team that is now a strong favorite to win it all?

35 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:54 pm

[34] 15 wins from Joba, 18 from Wang, and 20 from CC will go a long way towards helping Joe G escape that shadow..as well as 80+dingers from TexRod & Partners

36 Rich Lederer   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:55 pm

[28] The dollar covers up a lot of the mistakes made by the Yankees. Tampa Bay and Florida, for example, would have a hard time recovering from the bad contracts bestowed upon free agents such as Wright and Pavano. As Elton John says, "Grow some funk of your own."

[29] With respect to the luxury tax, teams not named the Yankees received less than a million dollars each. That's a quarter of a season worth of Damaso Marte! Nice.

37 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 9:59 pm

[36] It is nice, for those owners who generally complain about the Yankees while they pocket the profits.

38 Joel   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:06 pm

[36] Boo hoo! The Yankees are willing to spend every last dollar (and then some) to field a winner and Carl Polhad doesn't see fit to part with a teeny-weeny bit of his $10 Billion to field a winner in Minnesota.

Socialism for the billionaires!

39 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:07 pm


Seriously, your argument is now reduced to:

"The dollar covers up a lot of the mistakes made by the Yankees." ?

That's weak, man. Hasn't the dollar helped the Mets, Dodgers, or Angels cover up for their mistakes the last few years (Pedro, Schmidt, Mathews, etc.)? How about the Sox and Clement and Lugo? How have they done? Were you bemoaning the state of the game when the Sox spent the most ever to win a Series in 2007 (after dropping $200 million the preceding off-season)?

It's silly, Rich. Dollars spent is weakly correlated with ultimate success. The last eight World Series, all won by teams outspent by the NY Yankees, have shown that.

40 RIYank   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:12 pm

[34] We should remember that the 2008 Yankees weren’t as good as their 89 wins suggest.

Their pythagorean record was 88 and 74.

41 RIYank   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:15 pm

Oh, come on. Obviously the Yankees gain a large advantage from their money. Right, no championships in the past eight years, I know. But the Yankees have won more games than any other team in those eight years.

So, yeah. They make a lot of money, and they spend it on players, and that gives them an advantage.

Now somebody explain why this is bad. Why is it a problem?

42 jorgie juiced one   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:19 pm

Same as it ever was.

Over the last decade, Randy Johnson, ARod, Manny and Vlad were all free agents and the Yankees didn't sign any of them. This is a somewhat unique circumstance - the first time I can remember the Yankees signing the top two big ticket FA. The difficulty for the haters is that what they're saying now they always say about the Yankees. They were saying it 98 when the only FA on the Yankees roster were Wells, Chili Davis and Mike Stanton. The first time the Yankees went to KC in 99, the fans turned their backs to the field "in protest." I recall Lupica harping on Bernie's contract after the 98 off-season for two seasons after he signed it. They were saying the same things in 01 when the typical Yankees lineup included the following homegrown players - Bernie, Jeter, Posada, Soriano and Spencer, in addition to O'Neill, Tino, Brosius and Justice. The haters have always been there saying what they say. It really doesn't make a difference what the Yankees do.

The mention of US Steel is appropriate I think. I'll take a shot to surmise what I think happened historically to bring about this label. Between 1947 and 1953, the Yankees beat the Dodgers four times in the World Series, including in consecutive years in 52 and 53 in hard fought Series. The 53 Dodger team was a great 105 win team with astouding hitting numbers, probably somewhat aided by Ebbets Field. Dodger fans could not accept that their team had been beat, becoming highly resentful. They initiated a campaign to effectively denigrate the Yankees and to attempt to shame those who supported them (during this era, the Yankees would lead NY in attendance among the 3 teams every year). There was nothing of course "underdoggish" about the Dodgers, as they had great talent, maybe more so than the Yankees. I think it was the fact that such a talented team kept losing that contributed significantly to the resentment. Somehow rooting for the Dodgers was portrayed as a virtue, while supporting the Yankees, who won those Series, was a sign of some sort of deficiency. Thus, it became that the team of Duke, Jackie, Pee Wee, Campy and Hodges became the "good guys." While the team of Mickey, Yogi, Scooter, Billy and Whitey were the "bad guys," as automatic and unfeeling as US Steel. Of course, this was all nonsense. And yet it continues to the present.

43 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:22 pm

This is tricky ground for some of us, as OYF and I were saying a few days back. I( can't say I am happy in any simple way tonight.

Bum Rush, comparing the Steinlets to Pohlad isn't so tidy as 'some spend, others are richer than them and hoard' ... the ones spending are making a profit from that spending, the one not spending (in Pohlad's case) is deciding not to LOSE money on his investment given the limited chances of gains in his market/territory. I don't see him as having a duty to the sport to have the economics of the Twins be in the red. I detest the guys like Loria who basically run a scam out of shared tv and marketing revenue and equalization payments while dumping players and salaries, but that's a special case.

It is also too easy to say 'small market teams make their own problems'. Yes some are dreadfully run (Pittsburgh, KC...) but the margin for error is just so small there. NY can 'do' a Pavano or risk AJ or give Jorge 2 years too many, and will survive it. Small market teams simply cannot.

Rich, I can truly see how depressing it can be to be a fan of, say, the Blue Jays, or Baltimore, where it just feels as if even 'wait till next year' is hopeless. I suspect that some form of cap ought to come in, but I admit I get hugely bored by the revolving player door it creates in the NFL/NHL/NBA sometimes. There is some value to having teams adored and hated, whether parity is a higher goal (it probably is) is the question, right?

I also think that a lot of the anger tonight, and about to descend is this: Yankee payroll actually amused some with Pavano, Giambi, Posada, aging OFs all part of 210+ million. Once that same 210+ million (maybe a little LESS, in fact) appears to be paid for real value on the field (CC, Tex) it is cause for outrage. Let them spend on decrepit types, but don't let them spend it SMART!

44 Joel   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:25 pm

[40] On the evening of Sept. 13 the Yanks stood at 77-70 and were effectively finished, having just completed a disastrous series (again!) in Anaheim. They then went 12-3 in their final 15 pretty meaningless games.

What was their "Pythagoean" at 77-70?

45 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:28 pm

[43] That's what is so amazing: assuming that they do not sign Pettitte, their payroll will still go down next year! It's like the tag line for no-maas.org: "If we had 200 million to burn, the Yankees would never lose a game."

46 sonyahennystutu   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:36 pm

Can't wait to hear the next words out of Gammons mouth.

47 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2008 10:39 pm

[36] The luxury tax may not amount to a lot, but what about the revenue sharing the Yankees contribute? And the bigger national TV contracts because of the Yankees appeal? Oh, and how about those near sell outs in road stadiums that seldom see 30,000?

I think it is pretty obvious that it is in a sports best interest to have the teams in their biggest consuming markets doing very well. Why? Because if the large markets are engaged, the revenues will flow. Successful teams in the NY market aren't a given...and when NY teams aren't successful, fan interest wanes (NY is a big town with lots of competition for the entertainment dollar, another thing forgotten in the small market/large market debate). Do you really think MLB would be better off under such a scenario? Would any business?

The beauty of sports is that is in an emotional pursuit. That's why normally savvy people often wind up resorting to arguments short on logic. This issue is yet another example.

Finally, MLB does have a way to equalize the playing field. It's called the divisional playoffs. There are 8 playoff spots and the Yankees can only claim one (and do contend with another large market in that pursuit). I'd really love for someone to explain to me how the Yankees payroll stops the Reds from winning the NL Central. I will admit, however, that your suggestion about allowing more teams into the NY market makes sense (in fact I posted about that very thing before your post). How many owners do you think would vote for that if it meant abandoning their own territorial control. I know we all look at KC as a sad sack franchise, but I am sure its owners just love that guaranteed profit every year.

48 seamus   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:08 pm

[44] I don't get your argument. they didn't play those games after september 13? by all accounts they did and maybe the performed well because they were relaxed, but it is still the Yankees that performed well, not some other team.

49 Mr. Max   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:10 pm

[40] [44]

Yanks were 77-70 (.523). Pythag was 75-72 (.513), if using more accurate power of 1.83, not traditional 2, and rounding down from 75.51. Rounding up is, of course 76-71.

Baseball-Reference.com uses 1.83, so I do, too.

Regardless, the Pythagorean was not affected inappropriately over the games in which the Yanks went 12-3, and as I recall personally, they played some clean baseball down the stretch. Just too little, too late...

Someone correct me if my math is off.

50 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:25 pm

[44] On September 13 the Yankees split a DH with TB. Lets go back to the day before, following the poor road trip against Anaheim. At that point, the Yankees were 77-69, 704 RS and 670 RA. Their simplified pythagorean record (rs^2/(rs^2+ra^2) was 76.6-69.4. In other words, they were playing right at their expected W-L record based on RS/RA.

Perhaps someone with a better calculator can run the numbers using rs^1.83/(rs^1.83+ra^1.84).

51 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:26 pm

[49] Damn your eyes!!! Too quick for me. In either case, the Yankees were not outplaying their pythagorean record by much if anything.

52 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:28 pm

[5] "In a sense, the Yankees competition is really with their past…living up to their standard of excellence is enough motivation for me as a fan…and believe me, there is A LOT of fun in that."

I was going to say, the Yankees competition is really with themselves - and who among us does not understand that most basic competition - but that's just the other side of your coin, william.

The real fun in being a Yankees fan is that, while they do not always win, they rarely do not try. You can always hope when you're a Yankees fan, because the team gives you reasons to. That just isn't true of the more poorly run franchises, whether they have plenty of money (the Mariners of the last few years) or less (the Royals and Pirates, to name but two).

53 Mr. Max   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:28 pm

[51] It's OK, I spent a lot of time doing research and not refreshing the page at the same time, too. :)

54 Joel   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:48 pm

[48-51] Of course the Yanks were playing around their pythagorean at 77-70. My point is that once they were effectively eliminated from the post-season and the pressure was off, they played better.

And that's my point. An 89-win season masks what was really an even worse season during crunch time. The Yankees played .523 ball until, as Marv Albert says, "It was garbaggge time."

55 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2008 11:56 pm

[54] I'm not really sure I buy your argument. The Yankees won about as many games as expected given their run differential. It's bogus to simply discount the last two weeks as if they somehow don't count. In any case, it is simply not provable.

56 tys   ~  Dec 24, 2008 12:12 am

"And that’s the thing with the three free agents this off-season. Sabathia could have had the same money elsewhere (if the Angels got involved or the Dodgers were better run). Burnett did have the same contract offer from the Braves. And Teixeira had essentially the same offers from three other teams. Somehow the Yankees look bad because all three wanted to end come to them (with only money differentiating itself in the Sabathia case)? Please."

Please is right. Those free agents went to the yankees because they offered each the most money. Not a single one left money on the table to go the the yankees. They even had to bid against themselves for sabathia. If you're ok with the money being spent, fine. But telling yourself the yankees signed them because they wanted to be yankees (I'm guessing because after they tell you this?) is beyond idiotic. I'm guessing you also believe in santa. Unless you're 12, grow up.

"So, we listen to other fans ridicule our team as something less-than-wholesome, something corrupt."

In all honesty, that's a bullshit argument. It has nothing to do with being corrupt, or any other word you want to make up to describe other teams fans feelings. Bottom line, I'm not sure how you, or anyone for that matter, can enjoy a game against the royals or rays with the top 4 paid players on the field. If you can, more power to you. I couldn't.

Dress it up all you want, the yankees are doing their best to buy a championship. Just accept it.

57 monkeypants   ~  Dec 24, 2008 12:20 am

[56] "If you can, more power to you. I couldn’t."

I suspect if the tables were turned you could and you would. But if it helps you feel more righteous to deny it, then more power to you.

58 Rich   ~  Dec 24, 2008 12:21 am

This is the most important signing of the offseason, imho. It indicates that the Yankees now have a strategy, and are no longer guided by a series of tactics, as they were in the latter years of George's tenure.

59 SteveAmerica   ~  Dec 24, 2008 1:06 am

I do not feel bad rooting for a team with the deep pockets and willingness to spend their money. There is no such thing as "buying a championship." But Cash and the other decision makers have taken steps to put a hell of a team on the field for us to root for.

I'm suddenly optimistic about 2009 baseball.

Merry Christmas indeed!

60 Raf   ~  Dec 24, 2008 1:18 am

Rich, I can truly see how depressing it can be to be a fan of, say, the Blue Jays, or Baltimore, where it just feels as if even ‘wait till next year’ is hopeless.

Any more depressing than being a St Louis Browns, or KC Athletics, or Washington Senators, or Cincy Reds fans? Remember how inept the Braves and Indians used to be? How depressing was it to follow those franchises?

Every era has poorly run teams, or teams that have no shot at contending. This is no different.

61 BrianLevy2020   ~  Dec 24, 2008 1:52 am

I don't understand how people can be mad about this.

In reality, the Yankees outbid everyone for Mike Mussina as the top starter free agent and they outbid everyone for Jason Giambi as the top first basemen. Now that both are retired the Yankees outbid everyone for the top starter free agent and the top firstbaseman. It's just that the salaries in the top 1% of baseball have gone up in the meantime.

But speaking as a Washington-area resident (and Yankees fan), I don't see why the Nationals didn't outbid the Yankees. That's really their decision, and I think they should have acquired some keystone for some position.

62 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 24, 2008 6:40 am

[56] As a Yankee fans who loves that wathing great players, my Christmas gift to you and those who feel as you do is a willingness to suffer through watching an excellent team for 162 games, including against KC and Rays. I gladly alleviate you of this awfulburden. I am just sorry that you feel the need to throw a temper tantrum instead of realize how lucky you are to get really enjoy those even handed battles against the Royals.

63 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 24, 2008 6:45 am

[60] With the Yankees and Sox having outstanding business models, I can sympathize with the Rays and Jays to a degree (not so much Baltimore because they should be able to compete financially). Except for those teams, however, I have no sympathy. Each has a division it can win (NL teams also have a Yankee-less Wild Card) and then the opportunity to win a 3 game series, which seriusly mitigates against the Yankees financial advantage. It seems like everyone has taken up the cause of the Pirates and Reds, but no one has yet explained how the Yankees prevent these poor franchises from fielding a competitive team.

64 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 24, 2008 6:46 am

[62] "That Wathing"? Make that "Watching". I must still be too excited to type.

65 Raf   ~  Dec 24, 2008 8:13 am

but no one has yet explained how the Yankees prevent these poor franchises from fielding a competitive team.

Didn't you hear, the Pirates and Reds wanted to bid, but didn't have the financial resources to compete.

Seriously, there isn't an explanation. It's easy and lazy to blame the Yanks and their high payroll. Fact is that they didn't have to go after Burnett. For all we know, he could've signed with the Braves or the O's. Or remained with the Jays; what he got wasn't much more than what he would've got had he not opted out. Teix was signed to block the Red Sox from getting him; the Yanks were set to go with some combination of Swisher and Nady @ 1b.

Fact is, they had a lot of payroll come of the books this year and next, and they're players on the international market, and they're in the process of rebuilding the farm (already stocked with high ceiling arms, as pointed out by Cliff a couple of weeks ago). They're opening a new stadium, and are flush with cash.

MLB ain't seen nothing yet.

66 Raf   ~  Dec 24, 2008 8:43 am

FWIW, pulled from Fangraphs

Free Agent Values: Mark Teixeira
"If Teixeira is a +5 win player, and we use the $5.5 million per win projection for off-season spending, that gives us a $27.5 million figure for 2009. Again, we’ll factor in a 10% discount off of his current value for the safety of a long term deal, and that gives us something like $24.5 million for Teixeira. Teams are more comfortable giving longer deals to hitters than pitchers, so let’s pencil him in for a 7 year, $171 million contract."

Cots Baseball Contracts: 09:$20M, 10:$20M, 11-16:$22.5M annually

Free Agent Values: A.J. Burnett
"3.3 wins * 5.5 million per win = $18.15 million in projected 2009 value. We again factor in a 10% discount rate to make up for the fact that he’s going to get a long term deal, and that gives us an annual average value of $16.4 million. Given Burnett’s history, it’s unlikely he’ll get more than four or five years. That puts his projected contract at 4 years/$66 million or 5 years/$82 million."

Cots Baseball Contracts: 09-13:$16.5M annually

Free Agent Values: CC Sabathia
"5.5 million * 5.5 wins = 30.25 million. That’s what we’d expect Sabathia to be worth if he signed a one year deal, which he clearly won’t do. In exchange for the security of a long term deal, he’ll give teams a slight discount off his current value. At a 10% discount for the safety of a five to seven year deal, that would put his annual average salary at $27 million."

Cots Baseball Contracts: 09:$14M, 10-15:$23M annually

If these studies are to be believed, the Yanks got these players at a discount..

67 Joel   ~  Dec 24, 2008 8:59 am

[55] Of course the last two weeks of the season "counted" and obviously my hypothesis isn't scientifically provable. But I do think there is ample anecdotal evidence that Girardi's leadership style last year was not the best for a veteran team that already plays under a ton of pressure.

Bob Klapisch had yet another piece just recently documenting Girardi's awkward management style last year. All that I'm saying is that Girardi's ability to lead a veteran all-star team with many fragile egos and very high expectations will be an important subtext in 2009.

68 ChrisS   ~  Dec 24, 2008 9:44 am


Carl Pohlad isn't making billions of dollars from the Twins and simply pocketing the money.

It's simple, team A has revenues of $225 million/yr, team B has revenues of $50 million/yr.

Team A spends $200 million on player salaries and $15 million on coaches/staff/overhead, etc.

Team B spends $40 million on player salaries, coaches/staff/overhead, etc.

Both have a $10 million/yr profit. One owner is lauded and the other despised. Could Steinbrenner just field a team with a $50 payroll and make a $175 million profit, yeah, but it won't do wonders for the product he's selling (see previous owner CBS) or revenues. Pohlad isn't pocketing $175 million a year and claiming the poorhouse. They all make their money on the backend when they sell the franchise.

Team owners of sports franchises are in one of the most lucrative crony businesses out there. I don't care for any of them and I'm certainly not defending them. But the point is that the Yankees' revenue likely exceeds any other team's by a ridiculous amount. But you can't say that Pohlad is a jerk for not spending his personal wealth that he earned outside of baseball on the twins so that they can have a $150 million dollar payroll. And you especially can't attribute any kind of moral high ground to any team ownership group with regards to their finances without seeing the books and the actual numbers.

69 ChrisS   ~  Dec 24, 2008 9:52 am

I don’t understand how people can be mad about this.

I don't see it as people, yankee fans, being mad about the signing, but me for example as not ascribing any kind of benevolence to the Steinbrenners or mystical "Iwannabeayankee"-itis to players.

They all took the most money on the table. I don't know about some of you, but $12 million is a lot of scratch and it represented essentially a 5% pay increase to Teixeira. He didn't take it out of the goodness of his heart, if he wanted to stick it to the Red Sox he would have taken less or equal money to play for the Yankees

70 seamus   ~  Dec 24, 2008 10:19 am

[68] that is a false argument since the situation where the Yankees offered less money didn't exist.

71 RIYank   ~  Dec 24, 2008 10:33 am

[67] Enough with the straw men.
Nobody said Pohlad is making billions. Nobody said Pohlad is a jerk. He's not a jerk, he's a capitalist. He designs a business plan for his team, he takes the profits, that's capitalism. Nobody said the Yankees have the moral high ground.

And sure, all owners get a large capital gain when they sell, but are you seriously suggesting that the Twins do not make an annual profit? I'd like to see some evidence for that.

72 Yankee in Chicago   ~  Dec 24, 2008 11:16 am

I recall that after the 2000 Series, a Mets fan was quoted as saying, "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the sun to come up." If only that were so. I have friends who are Cubs or White Sox fans, who can say, "It was a good year. We made the playoffs." Yankee fans don't have that luxury. Unless we win the World Series, the season is a failure. And we've failed for eight years in a row. But now that we've copped Texeira, in addition to C. C. and Burnett, failure is unimaginable. Let's save everyone a lot of trouble by cancelling the 2009 season and giving the Yankees the World Series trophy now.

73 Raf   ~  Dec 24, 2008 11:35 am

It's a long way from December to the Canyon of Heroes. Anything can happen over the course of a season, anything can happen in the playoffs.

Rivera could blow a save as he did in game 7 the 01 WS or games 4 & 5 of the 04 ALCS (and lets face it, you're up 3-0 with Duque, Moose, Lieber & Brown on tap, I'd still take those odds). Sabathia or Burnett could get hurt, like Wells did in game 5 of the 03 World Series, or be ineffective, like Wang in the 2007 ALDS.

1995 & 2004 should be lessons that nothing is guaranteed the Yanks in the postseason.

74 Joel   ~  Dec 24, 2008 12:14 pm

[67] You write as if the Yankees strong revenues emerged out of nowhere. Steinbrenner bought a moribund franchise in 1973 and built it into the powerhouse it is today. Nobody handed the The Boss a regional sports network let alone a global brand.

Revenues aren't a static thing. Do the Yankees start with an advantage because they play in New York? Sure. But you gotta spend money to make money.

75 KJC   ~  Dec 24, 2008 1:09 pm

[71] "But now that we’ve copped [RECENT FREE AGENT SIGNINGS] failure is unimaginable. Let’s save everyone a lot of trouble by cancelling the [CURRENT YEAR] season and giving the Yankees the World Series trophy now."

Seems like we've heard that for the past 8 years now. While the Yanks are now sporting an all-star team (again) -- and I certainly wouldn't bet against them -- everyone knows there are no guarantees in baseball...

And perhaps Yankee in Chicago was only joking about "giving the Yankees the World Series trophy now", but it's that kind of arrogance that pisses off the rest of baseball fans (which you already know).

76 3rd gen yankee fan   ~  Dec 26, 2008 4:35 pm

It's good times in the Yankee universe for sure. Thank you, Alex, I no longer feel guilty about announcing every new contract signing to my friends, followed by a maniacal MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Happy holidays everyone!

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