Friday, October 19, 2012 at 7:43 AM
Last night the New York Yankees (with a team payroll of almost $200 million) showed themselves, once again, to be the biggest and most expensive losers in the history of professional sports. Specifically, they failed in their quest to win another World Series in humiliating fashion when the Detroit Tigers (with a team payroll of less than $120 million) defeated them 8-1 to win the American League Championship Series (ALCS) four games to none.
Mind you, given their payroll and the media hype surrounding their team, one could be forgiven the expectation that the Yankees would win the World Series every year. But the last year they lived up to this perennial expectation was 2009. And I fear it might be another decade, and a whole new roster of high-priced players, before they win another World Series.
I must confess, though, that I’m not much of a Baseball fan. In fact, I pay no attention to the sport until after Labor Day – when Division Championships begin in earnest. And even then I find highlights on ESPN’s Sport Center enough to satisfy my interest.
But the Yankees transcend sport. Nothing demonstrates this quite like the way they make news almost as much for their behavior off the field as for their play on it. Some players on the team are actually covered in the media like Hollywood stars – none more so than Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod).
But at least Jeter has demonstrated an uncanny ability to live up to the media hype with his play on the field. This is why his season/career-ending injury (with a broken ankle) in Game 1 of this ALCS was so demoralizing for the Yankees, and probably sealed their ignominious fate. By contrast, A-Rod has demonstrated an uncanny ability to underperform – most notably in post-season play.
Apropos of this, no storyline in As the Yankees Turn provides more off-season fascination than watching the Yankees spend obscene amounts of money to lure the best players to New York only to have them play – during the critical October pennant race and World Series – as if they were bought with phony dollar bills. God knows they played this October like phony superstars who were bought with phony money, failing as they did to win a single game in a postseason series in 32 years.
What Boss Steinbrenner’s money does buy: April through September. What it doesn’t buy: October, which apparently isn’t for sale at any price – even for close to a quarter-billion dollars.
(ESPN.com, October 10, 2006)
Of course, for those of us who can’t stand the Yankees’ money-can-buy-me-anything attitude, season-ending losses like the one they suffered last night provide unbridled glee. But this glee was made all the more delightful by the irony of watching A-Rod, their $29-million-per-year man and the highest-paid player in the league, getting benched for his poor play: batting a noodle-like 3 for 25 at .120 during these playoffs, and giving credence to suspicion that A-Rod without steroids is like Samson without hair….
After all, only the Yankees were rich and foolish enough to acquire A-Rod from the Rangers in 2003 by assuming the burden of his unprecedented 10-year $252 million contract. They then compounded their folly by giving him a five-year contract extension valued at $114 million.
He is already saying that he’ll be back next year to stink up Yankee Stadium. But there seems little doubt that the Steinbrenners are now so disappointed and disaffected that they’re going to buyout his contract just to prevent him from despoiling that fabled Yankees uniform a minute longer.
In the meantime, the Tigers will be sitting back and waiting for the winner of the NCLS between the defending World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. They will play Game 1 of this year’s World Series next Wednesday.