Ahh, who are we kidding? This is probably just the tip of the "Yankees Are Cheap" Iceberg.
Still, when a vaunted reporter like Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein gives you a peek behind the curtain and justifies all the concerns you had about Hal Steinbrenner's day-to-day wallet-checking, it's worth treating as breaking news.
Turns out, when it comes to maintaining the Yankees, Steinbrenner isn't just pinching pennies. He's clenching them so hard they turn into little copper diamonds.
According to Apstein's latest reporting, the team charges its players for in-flight Wi-Fi, which is pretty close to essential if you're flying as much as these guys are. Without in-flight Wi-Fi, how is Aaron Judge supposed to negotiate with the Padres while on an unexpected private jet to San Diego?!
Per Apstein, the charge is $9 per player per flight, paid out to Delta. Technically, the Yankees could get an annual plan for around $40,000 -- but who has that kind of cash just lying around?
Yankees force players to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi. Is this real life?
The other nuggets in this story are incredible. Michael King, still on a family plan, treated Lucas Luetge to free Wi-Fi last year, considering T-Mobile and Delta are partnered to make this process simpler. Aaron Judge, also on T-Mobile, accesses the internet for free.
Who's to blame for these shenanigans? Hal and the boys, obviously, though Brett Gardner used to blame Gerrit Cole's monster salary for the cutbacks.
Most embarrassingly, reliever Lou Trivino told Apstein that even his old team, the Oakland A's, used to cover Wi-Fi on the plane, and they're currently too cheap to pay for a full roster's worth of MLB players. At least, in Trivino's eyes, the Wi-Fi on those planes failed enough that the Yankees' plan is still equivalent.
Optimism still abounds for the 2023 Yankees, but for at least a few weeks, when I think about this roster, I won't think of championship glory. I'll think of 26 phones awkwardly trying to connect to GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi, or perhaps a Boingo Hotspot, or another third (equally fake) option that rarely, if ever, works.
I can see it now. Carlos Rodón trying to get back on 5G, but completely unable to stop his phone from looking for Boingo after landing. Luis Severino refreshing desperately so he can download full episodes of "Suits" before takeoff. Harrison Bader listening to an episode of "The Bill Simmons Podcast" before takeoff, knowing full well that whenever the pre-downloaded portion runs out, he'll be sitting in silence forever.
And, without Wi-Fi, how's DJ LeMahieu even supposed to function on the plane? Do they just put him in airplane mode for the duration of the flight? Concerning, to say the least.