Some Thoughts on the Yankees’ Payroll


There is a great article in the Ottawa Citizen today about the Yankees and the age-old “they are ruining the sport by spending money” argument. The article can basically be summed up in four sentences:

"The Yankees show their fans respect by trying to live up to their expectations of winning as often as possible. There are many examples of teams that conduct themselves in ways that are far more damaging to the sport than spending money to win.If you want to see the Yankees lose because you don’t like them, there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t maintain the fallacy that when they lose it’s some sort of victory for the purity of the game."

Sounds logical, right? That’s because it is. I can’t tell you how many times I have made a variation of the same argument in defense of the Yankees. I love talking about baseball with people, whether they are Yankees fans or fans of another team. And I’m fine with people talking trash about the Yankees as long as they have a basis for it. But criticizing Yankees ownership for spending money on payroll has become the default way of lazily saying that you don’t like the team.

The Yankees play in the largest market in the US. As a result, they generate more revenue than other teams. The Steinbrenners could very well drop payroll to $40 million and pocket the rest of the money (baseball is a business, after all), but Yankees fans would justifiably be in an uproar. As fans we believe that ownership has a duty to us to put together the best team they can. In the Yankees case they simply have greater financial means to do so than many other teams.

If you’re not a Yankees fan and you like seeing them lose, that’s completely fine. Some of the best sports moments happen when a down-and-out team comes out of nowhere and upsets a favorite. It’s fun to cheer for the underdog, and most of the time that means rooting against the Yankees. But if that’s the case, just come right out and say it. Just don’t criticize the payroll and cite that as a reason for hating the Yankees, because there is not a single fan who would fault their team ownership for trying to field the best team they can. And at the end of the day, that’s all the Yankees are trying to do.