Above: The New York Yankees Stadium. Image by pisaphotography, courtesy of Shutterstock.com
The Yankees spend money. Everyone knows that, and it’s always been that way. Ever since they bought Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for US$125,000 (an unheard-of amount of money in 1920) they’ve paid the biggest stars in the game and, for the most part, they’ve delivered. A lot of purists – and, let’s face it, mostly fans of other teams – will tell you money can’t buy championships, but 27 World Series pennants later, it’s hard to argue with the Yanks’ M.O.
Coming from Venezuela, my dad has been a huge Baseball fan all his life. It’s the reason I started following it, too, probably, to bond with my dad. The Yankees were his passion, which makes sense for a kid who grew up watching those winning teams from the 50s and 60s.
My dad also loved the American way of life. We’re Venezuelan, but that time spent in the States at an early age was a factor in me growing up with the notion that the American approach was the exemplary way of doing things. It was far from the chaotic and undisciplined and, perhaps most importantly, unsuccessful Latino style, and it was always something I sort of looked up to, even when rebelling and rooting for the underdog has been mostly the norm throughout my life. People will always respect a winning tradition. “You can’t argue with success,” my dad would say.
And yet you can, sometimes. A lot of us have said “wait, how much?” dozens of times with this team. From underachieving middle-of-the-road guys that are being paid like all-stars (Pavano, Irabu, Burnett) to actual superstars being paid long-term money that no team on Earth was even considering to compete against (A-Rod,) the Yankees keep overpaying and putting themselves in eternal luxury tax hell. Many times, it just doesn’t pay off.
They resisted signing Cano for 10 years, which is good in the long run and a very un-Yankee thing to do, but doing so, they also refused to pay big money to the only truly consistent star they’ve had this decade. Even the recent signing of Jacoby Ellsbury was another quick fix, a big name to show the world they’re still ready and willing to go the distance. It’s also another example of the Yankees just sticking it to the Red Sox (by no means an underdog, of course, just their biggest rival.) A way to bully their way into another farm’s product who’ll gladly wear pinstripes for an obscene amount of cash. There’s a long tradition of stealing the Red Sox stars. From Ruth to Clemens, Boggs, Damon and now Ellsbury, it just seems sweeter if it comes from Boston.
And yet it’s probably too much money, US$153m for an injury-prone 30-year-old sounds like a contract destined to be regretted sooner than later. But it’s the Yankees, and somehow everyone kind of feels this will all work itself out.