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Cliff Lee Trade Another Example of Baseball's Rich Getting Richer

NEW YORK - APRIL 16:  Cliff Lee #31 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the New York Yankees during opening day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. This is the first regular season MLB game being played at the new venue which replaced the old Yankee Stadium as the Yankees home field.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Midwest Sports FansAnalyst IJuly 30, 2009

I seek to preface this column by noting that baseball is by far my favorite sport.

Despite the media narrative, I personally believe baseball is still America’s most popular sport and has fewer issues that need remedied than the other major sports.

I have defended baseball to my friends on issues from steroids to competitive balance to many others for at least the past decade and a half. When folks say “Yankees/Red Sox/Mets/Phillies/Dodgers/Angels,” I reference the successes of the “Rays/Twins/Athletics/Indians” this decade.

I should also note—and those who know me would concur in a heartbeat—I am a fiscal conservative, a capitalist to the core who abhors socialism and redistribution of anything to those who have not earned it.

That said, the trade deadline looms, and if you have not noticed, the “rich are getting richer.”

On the flip side, year after year, my teams (Padres, Reds, Indians, Pirates) stink and constantly lose prime players, while the teams in the major coastal cities—where my friends live—get better and keep winning.

One, a “suffering” Dodger fan, e-mailed me after the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee (reigning Cy Young winner, just like CC Sabathia was when Cleveland traded him last July):

“Dodgers need to get Halladay if they plan on going to the World Series.”

Well, we all want Roy Halladay, but only a few can even dream of this, sir. It must be nice to reside in your (baseball) world.

The Dodgers and Phils are surely the class of the NL, but what if they were unable to acquire the Manny Ramirezes and Raul Ibanezes of the world like 90 percent of baseball? (I should note these teams drafted sagaciously with respect to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Matt Kemp, James Loney, et al.)

As I drove back through very late Monday night from the Pads-Reds game in Cincy, I had the same suggestion (of “cry me a river”), however, for the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Cubs, Phils, and a few others.

Truly now, what team has actually built a winner out of nothing the past decade?

Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and to some degree Milwaukee, Colorado, and Florida.

Kudos to them. It can be done, but it’s tough. Everything must click, and you must capitalize on all chances.

Joe Torre and Terry Francona (c.f. Phil Jackson in the NBA) need not worry about such ancillary matters. Brian C. and Theo E. will make sure of that. I’d like to see those two win in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego, Washington, or Kansas City sometime, though.

Addendum: The unions are major culprits in this “system” as well, but that’s been thoroughly documented for more than a quarter-century. As is too often the case with unions these days, their employees benefit while the profession and society—in this case, its paying customers—suffers. I don’t need to spell much more out, do I?)

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