Heaven, Hell, and the New York Yankees.
Let me ask you a few questions. Now then, I won’t tell you anything about the team until after the questions.
Do you like it when you favorite team loses? Do you enjoy going into a season knowing that a last-place finish awaits you after 162 games?
Most times you can say that parity creates the ability for anything to happen. The NFL proves this year after year. However, this is Major League Baseball.
No offense intended to the fans of the following teams: Florida Marlins, Tampa Rays, and Philadelphia Phillies. These are all teams that have built teams using an amazingly complicated model, reaping the benefit of trades from the past (this applies more to the Phillies and Marlins than the Rays).
The Rays however have a model that no team can follow. Finishing with one of the most abysmal records in the league every year gets you plenty of good draft picks. In many cases it also gets equally abysmal attendance. Is this what you would want out of your favorite team?
Many have argued that the New York Yankees have spent recklessly this offseason to the tune of somewhere between $420-450 million. However, that is the business model that works for them. Does it lead to a win every year? No. does it generally get them into the postseason? Yes.
At the end of the day this is what most fans crave. A chance for a glorious run at the championship, banners, and parades. What fun is hoisting a trophy when there is some form of anointing to it? No, the fun is in getting there.
Getting there out of the AL East was dependent upon the aging Yankees getting a shot of competitiveness—no matter where it came from. The easiest solution they could swallow was buying it, and at least on paper and in Vegas it, has worked out.
This brings me to the topic of my article: Heaven, Hell and the Yankees.
For Yankee fans, heaven is a parade in October; to hoist the trophy and bask on a cool October night to the soft, subtle voice of ‘Ol Blue Eyes and New York, New York.
Hell is the bargain they make getting there; having entire legions of fans and media who believe all they do is buy their way to a championship. Baseball is about more than what the current Yankee regime will ever understand.
I disagree completely; I think every team makes a deal with the devil at some point. They make these deals so that their fan bases can maintain some ray of hope that they can win.
I do not pretend to compare the Yankees whopping eight years since they last won to the streaks befallen on both the Red Sox fans (since thankfully broken) and the Cubs fans (100 years and counting all).
Each of these teams made their own deals with a respective devil to try and win. The Red Sox bought Manny being Manny for as long as they could stomach it. The Cubs, well, I think the cure for what ails them is a very curious one. Two words (that I promise I will cover at a later time): Mark Cuban.
The end result here is that every team needs to sell part of itself to get where it wants to go.
Let’s just take a little step back from all of this and see if the Yankees idea has any form of sanity to it. The Marlins in 1997 and the Diamondbacks in 2001 won doing it. Where would the Red Sox of 2004 be without Mr. Bloody sock himself Curt Schilling (also a member of those 2001 D’backs)?
The only genuine surprises in the last few years for me have been the teams that made it there just to end up losing. The Colorado Rockies and the Tampa Bay Rays in the last two years serve as the best examples. However, maybe if they just sold a little bit more, they would have been the ones raising the trophy.
I guarantee you this much. If it comes down to it at the end of the day, the Yankees, the Red Sox, or even the Cubs would sell any part of themselves necessary to win again. Winning is where the marketing money is.
Winning in New York, if you believe the media, is a must. The Steinbrenner Doctrine they called it. The world was so much easier with George Steinbrenner in charge. Spend too much money? HAH! Salary cap? Never happen!
So will people please stop and figure out what the team they love needs to sell (or sell out) to win when October comes around?
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