As many people at the beginning of the 2009 season predicted, the New York Yankees have returned to glory to win their 27th World Series.
But this one shouldn't count.
As with Barry Bonds, who used steroids throughout much of the 2000's, the Yankees have also used an unfair advantage that 29 other major league clubs aren't able to use.
Money. $210 billion to be exact.
In my opinion, the Yankees would not have won this title had there been a salary cap in baseball.
During their World Championship teams in the late 1990s, the core of the Yankees team were all homegrown players: Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Orlando Hernandez, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte.
Although there were some major free agent acquisitions (Tino Martinez, Roger Clemens, Scott Brosius) and trades (Paul O'Neill and Chuck Knoblauch) the team revolved around the homegrown talent.
Today is the complete opposite.
Since free agency began in 1969, the Yankees have always been in the talks for every player on the market. The first major Yankee free agent acquisition was Reggie Jackson in 1977.
Today, the Yankees team is built around their free agent signings:
3B Alex Rodriguez (the Yankees traded for A-Rod in 2003, but he opted out of his contract and became a free agent in 2007, and re-signed with the Yankees as a free agent) has won two MVP awards with the Yankees, and has hit 238 home runs with 716 RBI since 2003, second most in the majors during that span.
DH Hideko Matsui was signed in 2003 after nine years in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Matsui, who won three MVP awards in the NPB, hit 312 homeruns and earned the nickname "Godzilla" for his power. Matsui hit 50 homeruns in 2002 before signing with the Yankees. Matsui was the MVP of the World Series.
1B Mark Teixeria was one of three highly-coveted free agents during the 2008 offseason. The Yankees signed him to an eight-year $180M contract.
SP CC Sabathia was one of three highly-coveted free agents during the 2008 offseason. The Yankees signed him to a seven-year $161M contract.
SP A.J Burnett was one of three highly-coveted free agents during the 2008 offseason. The Yankees signed him to a five-year $82.5M contract.
OF Johnny Damon, who had just led the Red Sox to a 2004 championship, signed a four-year $52M contract in 2005.
Of the Yankees starting players, only four players went through the Yankees minor league system, and only two of them are under 26 (2B Robinson Cano and OF Melky Cabrera. SS Derek Jeter and C Jorge Posada are the other two players. Jeter is 35 and Posada is 37)
60% (8/13) of the Yankees bench consists of free agent players, as does 50% (7/14) of the Yankees pitching staff.
The only reason the Yankees have succeeded at all this decade is due to all the money they have to throw around. If all 30 MLB clubs had $210M to throw around, the Yankees wouldn't be able to compete for every free agent player.
Oh, wait. Yes they would. They would just bid higher.
The Yankees payroll is $62M higher than the second place club (New York Mets). That $62M is higher than the payroll of the Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Yankees could pay for Pittsburgh's payroll for the next decade with this years paychecks alone.
The Yankees payroll is almost double that of the NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Championship seasons should not be bought. The Yankees of 2009 bought their way back to glory. Teams should built from the ground up, not be purchased.