You can’t buy championships

Last week, Mark Attanasio, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, said in an e-mail interview with Bloomberg News that baseball “might need a salary cap.”

As expected, a flurry of rumours and speculation popped up on most sports news sites from every corner of the internet. The comment stemmed from the New York Yankees’ signings of Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, the latter having pitched for the Brewers in 2008.

The Yankees have become an off-season powerhouse, signing multiple players to big money, multi-year contracts. To date, they have spent $442 million dollars. When the Atlanta Braves signed Derek Lowe, the 58th non-Yankee deal, it brought the total spending of the other 29 teams in the league to just over the mark set by the Bronx Bombers.

Are the Yankees doing anything wrong? Morally, it can be argued that they are trying to buy a championship, but they have been doing that for years and they haven’t won a championship since 2000. Some argue more spending translates to being a better team, but as it stands now, the current 2009 Yankees payroll is actually less than the 2008 total. As the baseball world happily knows well, the ’08 Yanks missed the playoffs.

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Technically, with no salary cap, the Yankees are playing by the rules. They have the money and they are willing to spend it in order to improve. Not many other teams in baseball are able to say that. With their new stadium opening this year, the Yankees are only trying to do what they think they need to do to put an exciting product on the field to give the new Yankee Stadium the opening it deserves.

Another argument is that, on paper, no team can match the skill level that the Yankees have. But just as they say any time somebody says “on paper” that’s why they play the games.

Fans and analysts of the game are always so fast to write off teams before Spring Training based solely on the size of each team’s payroll. How can $50 million hold up against $200? Losing a $12 million pitcher in favour of a $2 million one only makes a team worse. What people often forget is that these high-money players had to come from somewhere.

In a 162-game season, anything can happen. Injuries, trades, not living up to hype – these are all a part of the sport. A $200 million payroll does help a team, but it does not guarantee anything, so please, hold your comments on smaller-market teams for the All-Star break.

So let the Yankees have their Sabathias and their Teixeiras and their new stadium with $2,500 seats. Then let’s just see another team like the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays make fools out of them.

Let’s play ball.

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