Money Talks. But it doesn't play for the Boston Red Sox.
It's time, my fellow bean-eating friends. Time to get over it. The Yankees are no longer the Evil Empire. With all due respect to the Brothers Steinbrenner, they are no more evil than Snidely Whiplash, cackling over the damsel tied to the train tracks. Mediocrity haunts the vaunted Bronx testament to athletic greatness. What was once a summit of living baseball history is crumbling under the weight of age and gargantuan contracts. The World Series Dynasty thrill of the late 90's is gone like the flush in the cheeks of an aging beauty queen, clawing at an imaginary fountain of youth. Since 2001, the Yankees have never failed to put the most talented (and most expensive) team on the field. Three former MVP's play under the flapping 27 banners in pinstripes. The greatest closer ever, the greatest post-season hitter ever, and the most physically gifted athlete since Willie Mays all call New York home. And yet between their individual pursuits lay the crux of the Yankee tragedy. It was not the greatest among the Bronx Bombers the brought postseason glory to the stadium, but rather the gutsiest. It was Jim Leyritz and Scott Brosius. It was Paul O'Neill. This is the lesson failing the Yankees management. In trying to buy a championship, they have removed themselves from preeminence.
Take heed, Bostonians. We are not so different. Though still the Yankees have the highest payroll in the sport, we are more alike in that respect. $133 Million is closer to $200 than it is $22 (Marlins). Like the Yankees, we may have built our championships on the backs of the likes of Pedro and Ramirez, Beckett and Ortiz. But it was couple west coast kids that put us over the top in 2007. It was a blond, gangling starter-turned-closer-turned-starter and a rock-jawed catcher that delivered in 2004. And still, we have leaned more and more towards a Yankee-esque philosophy, almost in spite of our World Series victories rather than because of them.
In the 2008 season, the Red Sox have deployed a mix of veterans and youth, superstars and role players, the super-rich and league minimum scrappers. And it is the latter which is imminently promising October baseball. Discounting Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay due to their time with other teams, the ten busiest Red Sox position players in number of At-Bats are: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, Coco Crisp, and Julio Lugo. I have considered the stats of the five most expensive (the Gotti's) and the five cheapest (the Scrappers) players respectively.
The Scrappers, headlined by Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youk, Crisp and Lowrie make a cool $9.3 Million between the five of them. Here are their combined statistics:
- Batting Average: .298
- Hits: 601
- Home Runs: 57
- Doubles: 128
- RBI: 285
- On-Base Percentage: .359
- Stolen Bases: 82
- Total At-Bats: 2017
The Gotti's, headlined by Drew, Lowell, Ortiz, Lugo, and Varitek, will rake in a slim $59.2 Million this year. This is the accumulated statistics of those players:
- Batting Average: .263
- Hits: 452
- Home Runs: 63
- Doubles: 103
- RBI: 261
- On-Base Percentage: .361
- Stolen Bases: 19
- Total At-bats: 1720
I mean no disrespect to the players on the Gotti's team that offer the intangibles we love so much. Tek made our pitching staff better. Drew, forgiving his injuries, is having a fantastic season. But the organization as a whole is chomping at the bit for more championships. And the the more money we syphon off into risky, unfamiliar, and doomed free agents, the more we forget how we won in the first place.
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