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Yankees & Red Sox: More Alike Than You Think

For years, Yankee fans have dealt with vehement attacks from sports fans everywhere, alleging that their organizational philosophy was somehow unfair, immoral or otherwise faulty.  As though doing everything you can to win a title is criminal.  Well the plot has thickened, as the loudest voice of opposition to the Yankee way of life has joined the their ranks.  The Sox are now a big-money team.

Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

First, let me throw in my two cents on how ridiculous that argument is.  The Yankees have money.  They’ve come to it by way of their market, yes, but they’ve also done it through legacy and business savvy.  The Yankees pioneered free agency and were one of the very first sports entities to create it’s own television network.  Which brings in huge money.  According to an ESPN article in 2007, the YES network could be worth three billion dollars. THREE BILLION! For a channel that almost all of the year, and even in season for 21 hours a day, has dreadful television.

So yeah, the Yankees have money.  And they use it.  I’d be mad if they didn’t.  There’s no rule in the majors saying you can’t spend whatever you want on a player.  Should there be? That’s debatable.  But to argue that a team is somehow wrong for doing whatever they can, within the rules, to win a title is just stupid.  Since when is effort a bad thing?  Since jealousy, that’s when (yeah I said it).  Should we tell Ray Allen that it’s unfair to shoot three’s because he’s money from behind the arc?  No.  That’s moronic.  The Yankees do everything they can to win and that should be commended, not condemned.  I bet Pirates fans would love it if their team spent more money and brought in quality players.

Wow.  I’ve ranted way of course, but I feel the anger and I just go.  Anyway, Money Ball, it’s a two-team game now!  Certainly the crimson hosers from New England have been trending this way for years, but the team’s off-season, has – on the eve of the season’s first Yanks-Sox matchup – made the point more clear than ever.

Elsa, Getty Images

The Red Sox had a huge-offseason.  They signed Carl Crawford to a monster 142 million dollar deal and acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres.  A player whom they are expected to sign to a huge deal any time now. This on the heels of acquiring Mike Cameron, John Lackey and Adrian Beltre for a combined 106.5 million dollars the year before, according to bleacher report. All the while, stars such as Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon are on the roster signed to lucrative deals.  And I haven’t even mentioned the 50 million dollars the Sox paid for the rights to negotiate with the gyro ballin’ Daisuke Matsuzaka.

An examination of the MLB payrolls – or of your memory if you’ve been a baseball fan with a pulse – of the last years will show a steady rise in the Red Sox payroll.  It will also show that they have significantly closed the gap on the Yankees, from an 80 million dollar difference just two years ago, to a 40 million dollar difference opening day this year – before Gonzalez signs his expected extension.

Jeff Gross, Getty Images

Look, the numbers really mean nothing. Use the eye test.  Recent off-seasons the Sox have used largely the same model the Yanks have – throw the world at a guy until he says yes.  It’s true.  It’s why Buck Showalter criticized those who praised Red Sox GM Theo Epstein for his off-season moves.  Because the Red Sox off-season had little to do with any unique talent Epstein possesses.  It had to do with a well-oiled money machine that can throw the cost benefit analysis so far out of whack that a guy can’t help but put his name on the dotted line.

Which isn’t wrong.  It’s great!  I’m glad the Sox finally joined the party.  It was lonely up there for a while.  I guess you could say that Mets and Cubs have been playing Money Ball for years as well, but come on. They’ve been playing the same game in the way that professionals and tee ball players are playing the same game.  One group is doing work and the others’ short stop has wandered into short right field, their third baseman is trying to catch flies with his hat and everyone else has their batting helmet over their eyes while running to third after kicking the ball off the tee.  You know what I’m saying?

Look.  The bottom line is the MLB doesn’t have a salary cap.  So if you wanted to blow 38 million dollars on a middle reliever, that’s your business. I’m glad that another team has realized that utilizing their assets isn’t a bad thing.  And to deny that the Sox are such a team is ludicrous.  Come on, look at their past couple off seasons.  So if you’re Pirate fan and you’d like to yell and scream about the Yankees and their culture of big money, I’d first ask you to kindly pen a letter to your owner and ask him to stop pocketing all of your hard earned money and spend some on the team.  Then I’d ask you to relax and note that more than one team in today’s MLB is spending big bucks for the players you want.  More than one team is doing exactly what their fans would want them to do, exactly what you would want your team to do.

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