By Ron Espinola Posted February 18, 2009
I have been on this earth for 38 years; 32 of those years have been spent as a Yankee fan. Growing up in the 70s, few teams had the mystique of the Bronx Bombers and I bought in at an early age. Of course, the 1977 and 1978 World Series titles were a big part of this.
I remember Reggie’s three home runs, Nettles’ incredible defense at third; crying when Thurman died, and yes I did actually eat a Reggie Bar. I lived with the ridicule of the 80s, watched Don Mattingly perform in obscurity (but what should be a Hall of Fame career), and loved every minute of the mid to late 90s.
My time following the Yankees began with the era of free agency in baseball, but the most meaningful teams were composed of players that were developed within their system. When the Yankees won their first title in 18 years the key players were homegrown. These players (Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams) would serve as the core for three more titles. There were free agents, but there was never the feeling that they had to have the biggest name no matter the cost. Maybe I am disillusioned but these were teams, not collections of individuals. It takes more than names, dollars, and steroids to win. Look at the self-dubbed idiots of 2004 (no, I can’t say the name). On paper were they better? Did they shell out a quarter of a billion dollars? No, they were a team.
The Yankees have now returned to their tried and failed strategy of getting the biggest free agents possible (in the case of CC Sabathia this is literal). One year of using their own talented but young players and not making the playoffs has somehow proved it doesn’t work. They now have Sabathia at $161 million for 7 years and the often injured AJ Burnett for a cheap $82.5 million over 5 years, and Mark Teixeira for 8 years and $180 million. This brings their total payroll to about $207 million for next season.
I am not one to argue that players aren’t worth the money. You’re worth whatever someone is willing to pay you for your skills, whether that’s playing a game or teaching. But with a billion-dollar stadium opening next year, people out of work, and the stock market in the tank, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to show at least a little financial restraint; especially when you are asking for an additional $400 million to help with a new stadium.
Yes, I contributed to this by paying for my tickets as well as some souvenirs and food last summer when I took my son to a game; but it has been proven that spending millions does not translate into championships (ask the Dallas Cowboys). Teams have a responsibility to their fans to keep their product affordable, or fans need to wise up and stop shelling out the ridiculous prices for tickets, jerseys, and TV packages. Better yet, find the time to support one of Lowry’s athletic teams or enjoy a performance by drama, band, or choir. If you do, rest easy knowing that the performers are there for the right reasons, not the almighty dollar.
But if the Yankees don’t make the playoffs this year they can ask congress for a stimulus package.