Since no one else will do it: THANK YOU, New York…

December 26, 2008 | Drew Forrester

I realize the Yankees don’t really need me to defend them.

I’m sure they have a team of high-powered, highly-paid lawyers who can handle their defense quite well.

In the aftermath of “TexGate08”, we’re still hearing and reading from folks in Baltimore about how “unfair” it is that New York ponied up $180 million for ANOTHER baseball player.  

We’re confronted with ramblings about how “the system is broken” and “no one can compete”, etc.

Funny, the system wasn’t broken when the Orioles were offering (supposedly) $150 million.  Suddenly, though, because someone coughed up $180 million, the system sucks?  I don’t buy it.

Let me educate some of you on what the Yankees did last week.  Actually, it’s what they’ve done in December, mostly.

They’ve added three players recently – Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira.  The total sum of the investment for those three is roughly $423 million.  

But the Yankees aren’t spending $423 million THIS year.  That money will be distributed over eight years and, even, possibly beyond that depending on how much – if any – is deferred for future payment. Everyone acts like they plunked down $423 million in cash on a table somewhere.  They’re spending money they don’t really have right now.  Who knows what their salary structure might be in 2014?  They might spend $150 million…$90 million on Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira and Markakis.  And another $60 million on 25 other players.  So, projecting ahead five or six years down the road and barking about what their salaries will be then just doesn’t make sense.

New York will probably wind up spending less money in ’08 than they did in ’07, believe it or not.  They’ve already reduced their salaries by $88 million by losing guys like Mussina, Pavano, Abreu and Giambi.  If you ask me, a 4-for-3-swap where you lose those three and add CC, AJ and Tex is a good deal.  But I’m no Andy MacPhail.

The Yankees have been overpaying for baseball players since Elton John had his first #1 hit with Crocodile Rock.  It’s what they do.  And for all of you out there who think this recent spending spree is going to cripple them, think again.  It never has…why would this time be any different?

They gave Carl Pavano $40 million four years ago and he was horrible for them.  They got about $103,000 worth of production from him.  Somehow, they’re still in business.  There’s a list of players who went to New York and failed.  But they all got rich.  And the Yankees never filed for bankruptcy, either.

And don’t for one minute think the other teams in baseball REALLY care that the Yankees are brinks-trucking it up this off-season.

The owners care about one thing and one thing only.  The financial security of their investment, namely, their own organization.

The Orioles haven’t played a game that’s mattered since 1997.  It’s been longer than that in Pittsburgh and Kansas City.  But, the value of those three franchises is at an all-time high right now.  That’s what the owner cares about.  Period.

Our guy in Baltimore is laughing so hard he needs a weightlifter’s belt to keep from busting his gut open.

He’s guaranteed $60 million a year from Comcast for the next 7 years and his regional sports network will reach generate upwards of $150 million for him by the close of this decade.  And he gets that money whether the team goes 60-102 or 102-60.  

Do you REALLY think Peter Angelos cares that the Yankees are going to spend $200 million or more on player salaries in 2008?

Are the owners in Kansas City, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Pittsburgh bummed out that Teixeira got $23 million? 

They don’t care.

They care about two things:  REVENUE.  And. EXPENSES.

If they happen to swallow the lucky pill like the Rays did in ’08 and make the playoffs or the World Series once a decade, that’s great.  

The Orioles haven’t been able to fix their team since 1998 and in the last couple of years, the guy hired to fix the team has initiated the repair by making the team worse and ignoring the two players (Markakis and Roberts) who are the biggest reasons why the team actually wins roughly 2.7 games a week.

If the Orioles REALLY cared about winning, they wouldn’t have let the team slide in the early stages of this decade.  Same in Pittsburgh.  Same in Kansas City.

The Yankees actually deserve credit.  Because they’re trying to win and signing every player available who might help them do so in ’09, they’ll be the most watched team on the field next season.  Each and every one of their 162 games will be watched with a microscope.  By May 6th or so, we’ll hardly notice if the O’s won or lost.  The Pirates won’t play a game that counts after Memorial Day, if not sooner.

When the Yankees go to Cleveland next year, the games will be sold out.  When New York heads to Seattle, there won’t be a ticket available.  When the Bronx Bombers invade Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit, those cities will be alive with baseball fever.  

The owners in the American League should be THANKING the Yankees, not pissing on them. 

Without them (and the Red Sox, in all fairness) –  for example, in places like Baltimore where the normal crowds are what you’d find at the State Fair for a REO Speedwagon/Foreigner double bill – teams wouldn’t sell out ANY home games.  

When New York comes to town, baseball matters again for three nights. 

Will the Yankees win?  Who knows.  Their mega-superstar-at-every-position-plan hasn’t provided them a title since 2000.  Other teams are trying to win, too.   

But I know what the Yankees will do.

They’ll make everyone else’s franchise more valuable.

And with at least a dozen franchises in baseball unable to sell their own tickets, New York’s traveling circus is the best thing going in baseball these days.

If only the Yankees and their circus could stay in Baltimore for two-weeks at a time and play day and night shows.  In that case, our attendance might be over 3 million again.