Yankee Doodles

I was sitting at my computer today reading about all manner of important issues like health care reform, the nature of existence, art and atheism when I came across a comment from a New York Yankees "fan" that lit my hair on fire. Luckily, my imaginary butler, Karlsson, was here to put out the flames and feed me milk and peanut butter cookies, but after he returned to his normal duties (inventing a cure for aging), I returned and read the post again. The so-called Yankee fan was using a word he couldn't spell -- hypocrite -- to describe the fans of other teams who spend money on players. And that's when my hair caught fire again. Yes, I thought, other baseball teams spend money on players. That's how it works. The money players are paid is called a "salary." But comparing any other team to the evil empire is like comparing dairy milk to soy milk: one is playing by a set of rules that involves cows and it's played by those rules for a long time. The other is masquerading as cow milk by mashing up some beans and mixing in some other stuff. Well, I'm not buying it. Wait, I am buying it: I love soy milk -- it's really delicious, actually, and whatever they're putting in there (probably sugar), I'm for it. I had a dream about soy milk the other night and... Wait, again, I seem to have gotten off on a tangent, which sometimes happens when my hair is on fire. The point is: there's the Yankees and there's everyone else. Imagine a world, if you have an imagination (I'd apologize for leaving Yankee fans behind just now, but I don't believe such creatures exist, only drooling bullies who'll do anything to anyone to bolster their sagging sad sack egos -- using the word "fan" to describe these creatures does disservice to real fans of real teams). Now, where was I? Yes, imagination. Imagine a world where the NBA limits the height of its players to 6' 5", but permits one team to recruit players over seven feet tall. That's the situation in baseball. From the team with the 2nd highest payroll (the Mets) down to the team with the lowest, there's a continuous slide: the biggest leap from one team to the next is a few million dollars. From the Mets up to the Yankees there's about a 70 million dollar leap. That difference is higher than the payroll of half the teams in baseball. So when Yankee fans try to pretend that it's an equal playing field, my hair catches fire. Poor Karlsson. Lucky for baseball fans that the Yankees have often been run by incompetent boobs (my apologies to cows whose boobs produce real dairy milk); and lucky it wasn't until the 90's when George Steinbrenner, the Yankees owner, figured out that it didn't make sense to buy one or two players when you could buy ALL the good players on the market every year. It's really a tribute to Yankees' incompetence that they haven't won every championship the past 20 years.

So: the Yankees are to baseball what bullies are to playgrounds. They're to baseball what people who kick cats are to cats. They're to baseball what Wall Street is to America. The Yankees are to baseball what Al Capone was to fair play.

Okay, I accept that. It sucks for baseball and for any real fans who might remain, but until baseball applies a true salary cap, this imbalance will remain. The Yankees have been buying championships since they bought Babe Ruth from the Red Sox and it looks like that's going to continue.

But let's not allow Yankee fans to pretend there's an equal playing field like they pretend when they play soccer against the special needs children in their neighborhoods. Let's not allow them to pretend that what the Yankees have accomplished they accomplished because they draft well or because they're smart or because their own players are better than other teams players. They win because they have money. The rest of the league is essentially developing their future players. If you doubt this Yankees fans, then ask yourself if they could have won without A-Rod (sorry, he's the team's best player, not the defensively challenged, overrated Jeter), Teixeira, Damon, Sabathia, Burnett, and even Swisher. And that's just this year: they would not have won any of the championships of the past 15 years without Clemens, Key, Cone and all the other players they bought. (Hold on: I asked a fictional character (Yankee fan) to ask itself a hypothetical question (something this imaginary character is incapable of doing)). That's my bad...

If you really want a fair assessment of what teams do well developing players, look at the league as a whole and see which teams have the most major league players. Which developed the most stars? It isn't the Yankees, whose "prospects" continue to flop.

No team can compete with the Yankees and no team will be able to unless New York disappears into the ocean (and maybe that will happen, since fans of the Yankees are, by definition, fans of the many Washington lobbyists protecting their clients right to pretend global warming doesn't exist -- anything for a buck). If that happens, at least I'll be happy: sinking into the ocean is about the only thing that will keep my hair from igniting again. Now where did Karlsson, go. It's time for my nap.