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Are the Yankees Cursed? Maybe, but Not the Way You Might Think

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IApril 21, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees stands in the dugout during their game against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on April 19, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

To say the Yankees are cursed used to be a laugh. The Red Sox were cursed. The Yankees were just the lucky result of the whole Bambino thing.

But since Boston reversed the curse in 2004, you have to wonder if Boston reversed the charges too and sent the Yankees the curse that so many Bostonians have feared between 1918 and 2004.

But, as a skeptic on such things as baseball curses, it's hard for me to say that the Yankees are now suffering from a reversed Bambino curse.

Still, something's brewing in New York. Something ugly.

Some of it, like the new stadium being a wind tunnel that launches balls all over the place (particularly to right field), is just dumb bad luck.

Some of it, like the lack of a championship since 2000, is due to something more sinister.

There's an old saying, almost a proverb, that says money can't buy happiness in any amount. Well, Yankees fans, you have the ultimate proof. 

It was said recently that the Yankees are baseball's most expensive third-place team.  True. They finished third last year with the highest payroll. 

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But they are also the most expensive long-lived flop in perhaps all of history.

Joe Girardi likely won't survive another non-playoff year. Not with the expensive new toys he was given in C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.

Heck, if the team doesn't start putting up more runs than it gives up, he might not make it to the All-Star Break.

But here's the sinister curse that has New Yorkers up in arms.

The Steinbrenners, for all their attempts, are throwing money at the problem. Besides a few notable successes, the Yankees have had a notoriously bankrupt farm system for many years.

Draft well and sign a few other pieces to fill out the roster, and you will succeed. Look at the Yankees' arch-nemesis, the Boston Red Sox. Their big stars are almost all products of the farm system. Sure, they have Josh Beckett and a select set of others who were originally products of other teams, but for the most part, Boston succeeds because they have great balance.

The Tampa Bay Rays, baseball's new flavor of the year, draft well. Virtually every player on their roster was drafted by the team or was acquired while the player was still in the minors. Tampa succeeds because they have finally found the right Major League combination of those players.

The Yankees, conversely, like to buy other teams' star players once they have a good year or two. They lavish money on guys like Alex Rodriguez, Sabathia, and Teixeira, among others. Those decisions haven't brought a championship flag back to New York.

They've probably hindered it. 

The Yankees, more than anyone, could afford the expensive contracts for high draft picks. They could also afford to fail in the draft a lot more than teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates or Tampa Bay Rays can.

But the Yanks are cursed, not by Ruth, but by their own money-spending ways.

In any sport, a team that drafts well and mixes in other bought talent at a premium is a continual favorite to become champion. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots do it better than perhaps anyone.

If the Yankees are going to live long and prosper, they had better start trying to grow some talent down on the farm. As recent as last summer, they were trading blue-chip prospects like Jose Tabata to the Pirates for veterans in the twilight of their careers.

Want to break this curse? It's easy. Start spending wisely instead of just spending.  Otherwise, the Yankees will continue to be the most expensive third-place team in baseball.

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