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January 8, 2009

Major League Baseball’s Communist Manifesto

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Written by: YankTank
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“No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous.“ -Benjamin Franklin

The New York Yankees showcased their latest holiday impulse buy yesterday when they introduced 1B Mark Teixiera to their $223 million toy chest. Coming on the heels on the A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia purchases, the Yankees are undoubtedly making an unabashed statement to the rest of Major League Baseball. But in the context of the ever-disintegrating economy, their off-season spending binge does not connote aggressive World Series campaigning so much as it invokes the contempt and ire of fiscal-conscious Americans.

The Yankees have ruined baseball. They buy their team. They’re greedy minions of Lucifer and shameless Bob Crachets squashing the smaller market Tiny Tims under the heels of their cleats. They’re flagrantly destroying the National Pasttime one cool million at a time. 

They’re also just playing by the rules. 

The phrase “salary cap” has been whined and screeched so many times in the past month that I have no doubt a generation of December-born children will have it listed as their first words in their baby books. This right here is why I continue to be utterly baffled by the outlandish backlash towards the Bronx Bombers. 

There’s no salary cap. And until there is, the Yankees can max out their corporate card every day of the week and twice on Sunday. They have the money, they fill their seats every year, they sell hot dogs at $8 a pop, they cater to consumer idiots like myself who need their team logo on everything from a ski cap to a stapler. And it pays off. 

Whether or not these blockbuster acquistions will indeed lead the Yanks to the playoffs is a moot point. What IS relevant is that if the Yankees wanted to spend their multimillions in revenues on foam cowboy hats, beer, and pinwheels, then go live the dream. 

Unfortunately for them, their legal, rule-abiding, and sound investments have exposed them as the Anti-Christ. Less affluent teams are crying it’s not fair, their fans spitting vitriol at the vile Evil Empire for–God forbid–subscribing to capitalist tenets of amassing personal wealth. They can hate on New York for a lot of things, but this ain’t one of them, because the New York Yankees are under no obligation whatsoever to pander to poorer teams.

Major League Baseball is a business. It’s not Little League. It’s not pick-up ball in Central Park. It’s a corporate empire that millions of people enthusiastically endorse because we love the game. And it’s naive to bemoan the way our pasttime’s been marred by greed, because it is impossible to put a cap on competitive spirit. It’s the impetus driving the game itself, and it’s the impetus fueling the economic market. 

It’s ironic that so many use the financial crisis as the linchpin of their criticisms. If you want baseball to be the innocent institution seen through rose-colored glasses, then why tether the Yankees to the faltering economy? Last I checked, even their worst investments (read: Pavano) weren’t leaving millions jobless. What the Yankees decide to blow their cash does not exacerbate the damage done by Wall Street. And just because we’re bitter about penny-pinching doesn’t mean it’s the Yankees’ place to tread lightly around our sensitivities by not rubbing their fortune in our face.

Consider this business model: Say I own my advertising agency and am looking for the #1 creative copywriter in the industry. A good one is unquestionably worth his weight in gold, as a talented writer is at the heart of any successful marketing campaign. So I bring in the best for an interview, and he wants half a million dollars. Maybe I think, “Ehhh, kinda steep, but what this guy can bring to the table is worth that and then some. Sold.” Or maybe I think he’s sniffing glue, and there’s no way a single employee is that indispensable, so I just wish him well in whatever other opportunities he pursues. Or maybe it’s moot, since I simply don’t have that kind of money.

Said writer can take the job and let the chips fall where they may or insist he’s worth that much and pitch himself to another agency. And maybe every other agency tells him he’s a few crayons short of a box if he thinks he’s gonna get that kind of salary in this economy. And at that point, he can resign to accept a lower rate. But if there’s one agency who’s willing to meet his demands, then more power to them. He could be a dud, or he could be a star. Maybe I’d kick myself for not hiring him, or maybe I’d wish I had had the resources to take him on. But I can’t curse the company that brought him on board. The only thing I can do is work with the pool of applicants I have and hope their success generates enough income to someday be in a position to afford this caliber of talent, if I even want or need it by then.

So people can fault the Yankees for their decision making. Is it, in fact, wise to continue acquiring “trendy” athletes? Should they throw their efforts into cultivating a farm system? Perhaps. But that’s not the criticism shaping the seething response to the off-season spending. 

Are they really “bad for baseball” as haters everywhere continue to purport? In an economic sense, their extravagance most likely pays itself off throughout the rest of the league. For teams that couldn’t fill their stands if they were equipped with free porn and strip steaks, the Yankees are invaluable–they sell out 81 road games. Read that sentence again. If you’re a shareholder in the Kansas City Royals, you’re counting down til the Yankee Series like it’s the 15th of the month. 

And as one of only two teams that pay a luxury tax, the Yankees have paid handsome dividends to the league. This doesn’t even speak to the revenues from Yankee-Hater product sales, from the legions of articles and books that have been disseminated outlining the pervasive iniquity and corruption found in pinstripes. The legions of part-time sports fans that only root against the Yankees, and never for a team, prove that there’s no such thing as bad press.

Are the Yankees “bad for baseball” in a more tangible sense? Are they monopolizing the talent and making it virtually impossible for any other franchise to see even a fraction of the success the Yankees have? Ask Tampa Bay. Or the Red Sox. Or any other team that has managed to SOMEHOW “beat the odds” and have a winning, successful season despite the Yankees’ best efforts to acquire every player in the league. Philadelphia may have some dissenting opinions on this matter, as well. 

For the media and haters to condemn the Yankees for spending is nothing new. If not for the economic collapse, this would be “Yankees being Yankees.” But because of it’s timing, the Yankees have been made not only scapegoats for small market teams’ holes, but also the enemy of a communist society. Why should MLB “spread the wealth”? Where is my incentive to advance on the corporate ladder and someday make a $250,000 a year, if I know that the second I reach this mark, half of my paycheck is going to be used to spread the wealth? 

The dire straits of America’s economy may be critical, but they’re not the Yankees’ problem. Nor any other team. Because of Wall Street’s insatiable greed, I have to pay 18% tax on non-diet soda. Because fat people can’t join a gym, I have to pay extra to help the economy and minimize the country’s obesity risks. Now the sports-viewing world is saying that because of the financial collapse, the Yankees have to put the brakes on their spending because not everyone is as well off as them. Karl Marx would be so proud. 

If MLB wants to enact a salary cap, then let them. But if they’re going to continue to hang from the Yankees’ flush coattails, then the rest of the sports contingent should recognize the Yankees are doing nothing more than honoring their constitutional right to prosper.  



About the Author

YankTank
Kris Pollina lives and works in New York City as an advertising copywriter. She lives and dies by NY sports and is the first to admit she can be wildly irrational in defense of her teams. She spends too much time thinking of fantasy team names, too little time reading injury reports. She doesn't understand people who keep score at baseball games. She has more interest in the Kreb Cycle than she does in the NBA, tennis, golf, or anything that is limited to running around a track. She doesn't mind the NFL overtime rules, thinks hockey is wildly underrated, and hates the expression "step up to the plate." Most importantaly, she doesn't believe in wearing baseball hats with football logos on them. Football players wear helmets.




4 Comments


  1. mw2828

    Yes. The Yankees are entitled to spend this money because they play in a huge market. The key is making a real commitment to winning. Which they have done… there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Define fair: I’m a Jet fan. I missed a chance to watch Lav Coles and Santana Moss tearing up the league together for a decade because of the salary cap. The Jets wisely drafted Coles late after his stock fell due to off the field issues. When he finally reached his potential, their reward was watching him go to Washington because they couldn’t realistically match the Redskins’ contract offer and maintain cap space. Coles and Moss should have been a remarkable tandem. I think the Jets win a Super Bowl in 2004 with this receiving core in tact. Yeah, real fair. More like total B.S. Yeah, trades in the NBA for expiring contracts are AWESOME. The salary cap is a joke. It is implemented by greedy owners who want to keep players from getting the money they DESERVE, by the basic, SIMPLE rules of the free market. SUPPLY AND DEMAND. How many people can hit a 95 MPH fastball? How many people have the fearlessness to leap over the middle of a football field and get drilled by a free safety? In America, people are paid according to how many other people could do their job. This is why athletes are rich. People crying over player’s salaries need a goddamn reality check. If I make it as a screenwriter, I want to be paid according to my talent. Not according to what happened in the good old days, when men were men, the reserve clause was in effect, and the individual was OPPRESSED. Long live Scott Boras. Long live the player’s union, and God bless America. Great article!


  2. HappyValley

    love the article. you’re right, the Yankee’s “play by the rules”. i haven’t once heard them complain about their luxury tax and they pay it promptly. there will never be a salary cap in major league baseball, not for at least another 50 years minimum. After all the strikes, there is no way the union is going to settle for less money than they deserve. and let’s be honest, 95% of the people complaining about the Yankees spending spree complain because their teams can’t do it. If their teams had the means to make such offers they would be all for it. its a funny world we live in.


  3. Thanks for the comments! The weird part is that there ARE other owners who technically CAN afford to drop that kind of bank on players. The Twins owner who recently passed away was like the richest man in the state, worth somewhere between 2 and 3 billion dollars. The Angels, Astros, and Tigers owners are all worth at least a billion. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the media and haters just don’t resort to their usual jabs about how the Yankees should build a farm league. THAT may hold a little water, but for them to give the Bombers a hard time for spending their earned income on trying to reward fans…what’s wrong with that?


  4. cernig

    the difference between this year and last for the yanks was in order to get santana they would have had to give up phil and/or kennedy, maybe something else and then re-sign johan to a huge contract. this year they signed c.c. and a.j., and got to keep their prospects, thus not dipping into their “rebuilding” farm system.



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