Monday, December 29, 2008


Swinging For The Free Market

Here's an item I missed during the Christmas week. The Yankees' acquiring Mark Teixiera made all sorts of headlines. But huge of an increase is that on the Bombers' budget over the past season? Umm, actually, it creates no increase. In fact, the Yankees '09 budget is projected to go down from last year: From $209 million on Opening Day 2008 to somewhere between $201-205 million on OD '09. Yes, that's more than other teams, but so what? In the context of their budget, the Yankees haven't moved into another stratosphere. Furthermore, as the Shysterball blogger notes,
...Let's not go crazy talking about salary caps and manifest injustice and all of that jazz. The Yankees have spent extraordinary amounts of money this decade. The result of that has been the ability to bypass the typical success cycle by never truly cratering competitively and always being in the playoff hunt. The result of that has not been the disruption of overall competitive balance or the prevention of success on the part of the other teams such that radical changes are necessary, let alone desirable.

I will grant you that the former point is somewhat disheartening, but it is certainly not devastating. If you don't like Tampa Bay as an example of why the Yankees' spending isn't terrible (i.e. because it took a decade in the wilderness for the Rays to get where they are) I'll give you the Angels. Or the White Sox. Or the Phillies. Or the Twins. Or the Marlins. Or the Cardinals. Or any other team that has found success without spending $200 million.
In fact, since the Yankees last won in 2000, seven different teams have won the World Series, the Red Sox being the only repeat champion (though the Beantowners were in the Top Four in spending). What happened during that same period in the salary-cap sports? In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers won the title three times (and making the finals two other times), the San Antonio Spurs twice, the Pistons won one championship, lost another and have made the conference finals five years in a row. In the NFL, the Patriots won the Super Bowl three times and made it to another.

But, because of the New York Yankees, baseball has a competitive balance problem? (Speaking of which, how is it that the NFL -- the paragon of "parity" in sports -- managed to produce both an undefeated team and a winless club in consecutive years?)

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