Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


The rich get richer

Apparently Kevin Brown, Javier Vasquez, Gary Sheffield and Kenny
Lofton were not enough for George Steinbrenner and the New York
Yankees. Unable to stomach life without Aaron Boone’s .254 batting
average, they landed Alex Rodriguez ? the best shortstop around ?
to play third base. Now that the union and Bud Selig have signed
off, it is official: the joke that is New York’s payroll just got a
new punch line. After all, it’s not like any team in the history of
baseball has had to begin a season without its starting third

It seemed ridiculous enough when the Yankees eclipsed the $140
million mark. Now they have reached $190 million. Just think about
that: $190 million paid out to grown men playing a game.

The Yankees are destroying baseball. They are not trying to win
on the strength of their organization. They are simply relying on
the strength of their wallet and attempting to buy success. The
Yankee dynasty of the late ’90s and early 2000s was built on the
strength of their farm system. They developed one of the most
clutch players in baseball in Derek Jeter and the most prolific
closer in postseason history in Mariano Rivera, not to mention Andy
Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams, among others.


The 2004 Yankees are a far cry from those teams. They are
nothing more than hired guns. Mussina, Giambi, Matsui, Sheffield
and now A-Rod are pinstriped mercenaries. If they do not get the
job done, then Steinbrenner can always turn to the next wave of
money-hungry free agents.

Their current minor-league system stinks. No one wants their
“prospects” because they do not have any. When the Reds pried lefty
prospect Brandon Claussen from Brian Cashman in exchange for Aaron
Boone, they snagged the last player of value from the New York farm
— other than Drew Henson, of course, who has great value to many
NFL teams. New York does not play that game anymore. Gone are
Pettitte, Alfonso Soriano, Juan Rivera and Nick Johnson. They have
been replaced by more glamorous and pricey talents. Then again, why
bother with developing young talent? As soon as they hit their
prime, they’ll hit the free-agent market.

Thanks to their bankroll, Steinbrenner and Cashman have
assembled arguably the greatest left side of the infield in the
history of the game. And a very pricey one at that. Jeter will rake
in more than $15 million this year, with A-Rod pocketing $22
million, some of which will be paid for by the Texas Rangers. But
this was not just a shopping spree, it was a stroke of baseball
genius. Just ask former Yankee Reggie Jackson.

“We were the only team in baseball with the [guts] to pull it
off and take the chance,” Jackson said to the New York Post.

“Guts?” Is Reggie serious? Clearly he is either a.) joking b.) a
moron or c.) spending too much time with former Yanks Steve Howe
and Darryl Strawberry.

It did not take “guts,” or whatever the original term was that
Mr. October used. It just took money. They bought Rodriguez. Sure,
they gave up a good young talent in Soriano, but without
Steinbrenner’s billfold, this deal never would have been
considered. Any team in baseball would take Alex Rodriguez in a
heartbeat if it could afford to.

Yeah, the Yankees were really rolling the dice by trading for
the reigning American League MVP and perhaps the greatest shortstop
to ever play the game. A .298 average, 47 home runs, 118 RBIs and a
Gold Glove in 2003. Whoa there, Reggie! Do not take that risk;
those smell like MVP numbers.

A risk is giving the job to an unproven minor leaguer. A risk is
signing a veteran coming back from Tommy John surgery or a sub-par
season. A-Rod is not a risk; most sane people refer to him as an

Baseball fans everywhere are outraged, and most of them have
every right to be. Any baseball purist should be angered and
disgusted by what transpired this weekend. Alas, the one group that
should be silent in this debate will run their mouths the most:
Boston fans.

Naturally, the sports world can prepare for an onslaught of
complaining from the perennial whiners that are Red Sox followers.
Boston, however, has no room to talk. They have no beef, they are
just jealous. If the Sox and their Doogie Howser GM had their way,
Rodriguez and his mammoth contract would be in Boston.

If there is one thing I am sick and tired of hearing, it is the
myth that the Red Sox and Yankees are some sort of modern-day David
and Goliath. How many Red Sox regulars are homegrown products? Just
one, Nomar Garciaparra, and he was on his way to Chicago if A-Rod
had landed in Beantown. It was a great baseball move when Theo
acquired Curt Schilling from the cash-strapped Diamondbacks, but
when the Yankees nab Rodriguez, it’s downright evil.

Boston is not getting shafted by this deal. It is the
small-market teams like Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Oakland
and Minnesota that are getting a raw deal. There is nothing
small-market about Boston. Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Johnny
Damon, Schilling, Keith Foulke: they are all bought; none of them
came up through the Boston farm system. They rode into town on the
gravy train.

The Red Sox and their fans like to think of themselves as some
sort of heroic underdog, but they are nothing more than the
Yankees’ ugly sister. They spend money too, and they are hurting
the game just like the Bronx Bombers. Seriously, the Patriots have
won two of the last three Super Bowls, and the Sox are in
contention every year. No one in these parts who has watched the
likes of Glenn Braggs, George Canale and Franklin Stubbs has any
sympathy for Boston. For all their moaning, the Red Sox will still
be there come September.

The same cannot be said for the majority of the league. Whatever
hope was given to small-market teams by the thought of revenue
sharing may have been squashed by the A-Rod blockbuster. Clubs that
can only spend $30 or 40 million just cannot compete with teams
that swap stars like baseball cards. No matter how good
organizations are at developing minor leaguers and getting
production out of mid-level free agents, they cannot make up for a
$100-plus difference in payroll. If they have an injury, they
cannot replace All-Stars with MVPs. While they are playing
baseball, New York and Boston are playing Monopoly.

And who knows, New York still has something of a hole at second
base; maybe they can push for that elusive $200 million plateau. I
know of a certain Red Sox shortstop who’s been on the block. Then
Boston would really have something to complain about.


Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *