Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will Yankees buy another title? Some say yes ...

I met Ted, a venture capitalist and an Obama supporter long before I found a seat on the bandwagon, in Argentina early last year. Ted was taking his wife, his son and his daughter on a whirlwind tour around the world. They were seeing sites that would stay with a lifetime.

Part of their purpose was to take baseball to the unschooled. Every place he and his family went they left their love of the game there for others to share. Ted’s a Red Sox fan, unabashedly. So if you see a boy in Chile or South Africa in a Red Sox cap, blame Ted.

He loves baseball the way I do, and he infused that love of the game into his son Gibson, whom I watched play against a group of Argentine youngsters on a well-groomed ballfield in Buenos Aires.

I’m not trying to revisit the adventure in South America, although it's certainly worth sharing with people. I’m only mentioning Ted and his son now because of an e-mail he sent me the other day.

“He and I made it to Game 3 of the Red Sox-Angels series, and got to see our beloved Sox disintegrate in the ninth inning to get swept,” Ted wrote of he and Gibson. “And we thought about you all playoffs since Cleveland’s former players were so successful.”

Did you have to remind me, Ted?

I can’t dispute the role of formers Indians. I mean, how much better were manager Charlie Manuel’s Phillies after picking up left-hander Cliff Lee, a Cy Young winner, in a midseason trade? And the Yankees signed the best free-agent pitcher available last offseason when CC Sabathia joined them in a $161 million deal.

And where did Sabathia, a Cy Young winner, build his reputation?

In an Indians uniform, of course.

Even Ted’s beloved Red Sox had a high-profile Indian in catcher Victor Martinez, a linchpin in their journey into the postseason.

Ted was less concerned about the past than he was about next season. He looked into baseball's future and didn’t like what he saw. Not that he begrudged the Yankees and their success, because he didn’t.

What Ted lamented was the system that allowed New York to build the best team money can buy. With revenue streams from a new ballpark, the Yankees should become stronger this offseason as they jettison old pieces and add new ones, a point not lost on Ted.

“Some of the reporters stupidly argued that the Yankees’ World Series win wasn’t about the money, since they failed to win in the past when they made really bad signings,” Ted said. “That’s about as weak an argument as you can get.

“Take away Sabathia, (A.J.) Burnett, and (Mark) Teixeira, and the Yankees might not have made the playoffs again.”

He was right, despite what some sportswriters have claimed. The Yankees are a store-bought team, using the financial wherewithal at their disposal to outbid any team for a player they want.

I have long ago moved past decrying how the Yankees organization builds successful teams. It’s not the Steinbrenner family’s fault that it was blessed with a cash cow, and the family is willing to spend that cash to succeed.

That’s what seems to frustrate Ted and a legion of baseball fans elsewhere. It seems unfair to let deep revenue streams, not astute talent evaluation, decide which teams will be the most successful.

“Baseball sorely needs to revise its system, since the Yankees will now go out and buy two or three more All Star/future HOF players to get even better next year,” Ted lamented.

He’s right here, too. The Yankee dynasty is back, more prepared than ever to spend money and to bludgeon the competition into submission.

And what can anybody do about it?

Absolutely nothing.


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