“And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the Earth.”
- The beginning of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation (by the way everyone, there is no “S” in the title of that work).
To transition this verse over to the world of baseball, are the Yankees “Death” and the Red Sox “Hades?”
The Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez. Because of tax related issues, the club has a deal in place with Gonzalez (wink, wink) for a reported 7-years and $154 million (the announcement will have to wait until April. Oh, and I’m not buying Gonzalez saying earlier today that there is no deal in place).
Was that all the spending the Red Sox engaged in this week? Why of course not. They went out and added Carl Crawford on a deal that is being reported as a 7-years, $142 million (thanks to Jayson Werth for driving that price up – he can expect a huge flat screen TV under his tree from Mr. Crawford).
So, in the span of mere days, the Red Sox invested nearly $300 million in two players.
The Yankees? They have remained relatively quiet so far, a shock to be sure, but it’s only a matter of time before they land their man – Cliff Lee – on a deal that is expected to grow to well over $130 million (potentially as high as $150). Oh wait, I almost forgot. The Yankees did invest over $80 million to retain all-time greats Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, so it’s not like they have completely sat out the offseason party.
Welcome to the world of 21st century baseball folks.
This should come as no surprise though. According to ESPN, and I’ll get back to them in a moment, the Yankees payroll in 2010 was $206,738,389. No other team in baseball was over the $160,913,333 that the – you guessed it – Red Sox spent. In fact, they were the only teams in baseball over $150 million. Moreover, only eight teams in baseball, including the aforementioned Yanks and Sox, spent $100 million as the World Champion San Francisco Giants just missed joining the group at just slightly over $98.5 million.
Need something to talk about at your companies holiday party? If you add up the payrolls of the four lowest paying teams in 2010 – the Pirates, Padres, Diamondbacks and Athletics – you would just barely move past the Red Sox team salary at $172,424,366 – some $34 million short of the Yankees outlay.
You need some more data to share when the spiked eggnog starts to wear out? If we average out the prospective deals of Crawford and Gonzalez we end up with an annual salary for the duo of about $42.3 million. That’s more than either the Pirates or Padres spent on their entire teams in 2010.
I think you get the point.
I’m a free market guy, an ideas such as income redistribution that are often floated by people in our government disgust me. However, will you permit me to be a bit of a hypocrite here? Thank you.
Baseball has to do something to rectify this situation. You simply can’t have one team spending, literally, five times as much as others. How in the world can there be any competitive balance in such a world? Speaking of that, the real shock in all of this might be how in the world the Yankees or Red Sox don’t win the World Series every year given their financial commitments. Am I in favor of a salary cap? It hurts me to type this, but I think baseball has to move in that direction. It might be beneficial to not only have a cap, but also to have some kind of flooring like the NHL does. In truth, I would be in favor of there being a flooring more than an upper echelon limit that would impede teams from improving their club. Revenue sharing and the like could be brought into play, but whatever decisions are made, something must be done.
And this brings me back to ESPN. How are they culpable? Have you tried to watch your hometown team on ESPN lately? Unless you live in New York, Boston, Philadelphia or Chicago, ESPN doesn’t admit that you exist. Ever watch Sportscenter, or as I have dubbed it “Yankees – Red Sox television?” A whole generation of kids who don’t live in those cities are never exposed to any other clubs. Have 95 percent of people in the United States ever seen the wondrous Andrew McCutchen play? Does anyone outside of California realize that the Athletics had the best starting pitching in the American League last season? By focusing so heavily on the “big” markets, ESPN is effectively telling people, tangentially, that the other teams don’t matter. So, is anyone surprised that the Giants and Rangers World Series was the lowest rated Series in television history? I mean, for goodness sakes, it’s not like San Francisco isn’t a huge media market. Moreover, the Rangers had never won the World Series while the Giants hadn’t won since 1954, so there is no reason the baseball universe shouldn’t have been riveted by the matchup.
Baseball isn’t broken by any means, but the path they are currently on will one day end up in ruins. Before The Four Horseman come to wreak havoc on the land, hopefully the powers that be in baseball will avert the disaster by policing themselves a bit better to ensure the ultimately survival of the whole sport, and not just the well being of teams that play their home games in two cities.
By Ray Flowers