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The Bronx is Boiling-Opening Week Thoughts


Happy Opening Day!!! (I’m sorry, folks, I do not count games played at four in the morning on the other side of the world as Opening Morning, nor do I count ESPN airing the Padres on prime time Opening Night. Today is the day!) This past week was full of roster cuts, none more surprising than Eduardo Nunez. It was finally the right decision by Joe Girardi to send him down (did he read last week’s Bronx is Boiling?), I simply didn’t think he would do it. Maybe those binders are finally getting organized.

The rest of the week was highlighted by two huge moves in baseball, two mega-deals that have a lot of people scratching their heads. Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout got paid some serious duckets. It’s has me thinking. This week I’m not mad at the Yankees. We’re finally the victims. The Bronx is boiling folks, and I’m about to blow some steam.


As a New York Yankee fan living in the South, I am well aware of why people hate the Yankees. We “buy championships.” It’s true, the Yankees have had some of the most brilliant marketing and merchandising revenue over their history that allows the team to overspend on the biggest of stars and keep them away from smaller market teams. If you haven’t been watching baseball the last few seasons, you’ll soon realize that it takes a lot more than the Yankees’ wallet to win championships. Just ask Boston and Los Angeles.

The Boston Red Sox sprung the Bank of Boston wide open in preparation for the 2011 and 2012 seasons and made some moves for big name stars. Names like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford highlighted a Red Sox squad that featured the third highest payroll in baseball. All was well in 2011 as the Red Sox were cruising into September. A historic, monumental collapse from day one of September to the last out of the season had the Red Sox out of the playoffs. The slide lost Terry Francona his job. Bobby Valentine was brought in for 2012 and led the Sox to their worst season since 1965 and the their first losing season in 15 years. They dumped all that salary at the deadline and you know what they did in 2013? Won a World Championship. (Their payroll was at an upper level, but some of those ludicrous contracts were still on their books, the players were not.)

The Los Angeles Anahaim California Angels are learning the hard way that money doesn’t buy championships. Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Albert Pujols are a trio of Halos who all make over $24 million EACH. With those three at the helm, the Angels finished in third place, under .500 and had their worst season in 9 years.

Omar Minaya set the New York Mets back almost a decade with the outrageous contracts he offered. He paid big for players like Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou, and Johan Santana. The Mets didn’t have so much as a World Series appearance under his regime.

Look at the Philadelphia Phillies. They have three players on the top ten salary list in all of baseball and they are stuck with them now as they get older and decline. They haven’t even sniffed the playoffs the last two seasons.

The Dodgers had the first $30-million dollar man in Clayton Kershaw and for the first time in 14 years, surpassed the New York Yankees as the team with the highest payroll. If people hate the Yankees because they buy championships, this means the Dodgers are a shoe-in to raise the World Series flag this October, right? They had the same squad last season and guess what? No World Series.

There is much more than money to winning championships and the Yankees have proven that. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that George Steinbrenner found out his team’s success had to do more with chemistry and a steady, calming coaching staff than it did contract terms. Steinbrenner brought in a lot of high-priced talent in the 80s with the likes of Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson, but it never amounted to anything because the money wasn’t spent in the right spots and he was firing high-profile managers on a seemingly season-by-season basis. Finally in the mid-90s, the Yankees and Gene Michael got it. Those Yankee teams had the Core Four, homegrown Yankee talent that our money was used to retain. The Warrior of the 90s dynasty, Paul O’Neill, was not bought, as the Yankees had to trade Roberto Kelly to acquire him. They both had nearly identical salaries, so it wasn’t a financial, but a personnel move. The Yankees had to trade off the beloved David Wells to bring Roger Clemens to town which broke the hearts of many a Yankee fan. Their salaries were in the same ballpark. Other significant players in the 90s dynasty that the Yankees were accused of buying were laughed at when they were fitted for their pinstripes. The Yankees were laughed at for overpaying for stars past their primes such as Scott Brosius, David Cone, Chili Davis, and Darryl Strawberry. When they paid off, all of a sudden the Yankees were buying championships.

After the dynasty ended, the Yankees started buying big name stars, the Giambis, the A-Rods, and the Randy Johnsons of the world. And the Yankees failed. It is because they drifted away from their own type of players and signed on anyone who could hit 40 home runs or strike out 200 batters. They weren’t the right fit and they were shipped away. That is what a lot of these teams seem to be doing.

Money certainly helps, but it doesn’t buy championships. While baseball does not have the parity of the NFL, teams like the San Francisco Giants, Anaheim Angels, Chicago White Sox, and Arizona Diamondbacks have all won a ring this millennium. It’s not always about how much money you spend, it is where and how you spend it. Hopefully this new flock of free agents is a lot like the 2009 squad and we bring home one last trophy for Derek Jeter.

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