*I have been a Yankee fan my entire adult life so I’ve been dealing with the accusations that they buy championships for what seems like forever.
But allow me to challenge that idea for a moment. Most of the time what people mean when they accuse the Yankees of buying a championship (and it’s always said with negativity so it is an accusation that needs to be defended) they mean that the Yankees pay higher salaries to players so they lure good players away from other teams.
Directing enmity at the Yankees is misguided for three reasons.
First, Major League Baseball (MLB) has no salary limitation. If the league (and really the owners that make up the league) wanted to have a salary cap they could impose it. There might be a bit of labor disruption but ultimately the owners could get that done if they wanted to. But they don’t. The owners of even the worst teams are raking in profits each summer so there is no incentive to change. According to the rules of MLB the Yankees are able to offer as much money as they want to any unaffiliated player. The question shouldn’t be “why do they do this?” It should be “why doesn’t every team do this?”
The second reason is that players generate immense revenue for the owners they play for and for the cities they play in. With no salary cap restrictions players deserve to receive as much of that revenue as is possible. Everyone reading this would at least consider an offer to move to another city to do the same job for more money. We might ultimately decide against it but at least weigh the option. Professional athletes deserve the same opportunity. The Yankees recognize that acquiring talent costs money, and living in the New York metropolitan area costs more than other areas so their offers increase accordingly. At the end of the day the Yankees are simply paying players what they are worth to the franchise.
The third reason is that the Yankees get picked on by fans because of their free agent acquisitions but this is an overall philosophy by the organization. Certainly they offer lots of money to free agents. They also offer lots of money to amateur draft picks and foreign born players – often so much more than other organizations that other teams won’t draft certain players. Part of the reason for this is the presence of the athlete’s agents. Those are the guys negotiating the price up and advising their clients to consider the Yankees. I bear them no ill will mind you because their job is to seek out the largest contract for the player, but their role often goes overlooked.
While the Yankees often take the brunt of criticism for their contract offers, MLB, the players, and agents also share the responsibility.
I bring this up now because as I am writing this the Yankees sit in second place of their division after being in first place most of the season and they are doing it with many unknown players and those who were developed in the organizations farm system; they are in good shape to make the playoffs. Unless they win the World Series (and even then possibly) though, they will look to upgrade to All Star level players at multiple positions.
And I’m okay with that.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.