Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The Curious Case of Mark Teixeira
Joe: Hey Cam, did you hear baseball as we knew it is officially over? All because the Yankees signed the third-biggest name in the free agent pool. I mean...okay, fine, they also signed the second-biggest name in the free agent pool, but still. I think I saw a giant chunk of the sky fall down outside.
Aaron: The entire Teixeira saga from the breathless real-time updates on the bottom of the ESPNews screen ("The Nationals might be willing to go 10 years. They MIGHT go 10!") to the inevitable big money signing with a deep-pocketed team was absurdly entertaining. But, the aftermath... I've heard (yes, it was on sports-talk radio, but still...) that the Yankees' offseason spending is "disrespectful to those of us struggling during these tough economic times".
Joe, your team has somehow become of the scourge of the working class! The Steinbrenners have spit in the face of that single mother who worked third shift at the Chrysler plant, then came home to fix breakfast for her kids before her opening shift at the cranberry silo.
Joe: It's not that I'm entirely upset about the Yankees gaining back their Evil Empire moniker, and with it the hysterical flailings of the fans of every other baseball team in the league. But we were JUST getting the tide to turn and have everybody recognize the insufferability of Red Sox fans, and now I worry that all that progress has been lost. I mean, there wasn't ONE writer out there making the case for the Tex signing as a good thing simply because it stymied Boston's efforts to get him. No schadenfreude-laden write-up about the Sox losing out on Teixeira, losing Varitek, and shitting their pants at the thought the Yanks might still sign Manny. No attention-seeking contrarian writer looking to stand out by making the case that the Red Sox ownership's decision to sit on their billions actually doesn't make them better than the Steinbrenners' willingness to spend.
So I'll make the case now: Why would I rather be a Red Sox fan, when my owners have the means to go after the highest-priced free agents but choose not to out of...what, principle? Really? It's John Henry's strong moral fiber that kept him from offering $180 million? Or is it his desire to keep some of that money in his own pockets? The Steinbrenners -- batshit crazy, mean, delusional, attention-whorey, megalomaniacal, and physically repulsive as they are -- are putting their money on the field. Or at least, considering the fate of Carl Pavano, we hope they are. Look, I think there should be a salary cap too. But until that happens, I want to see my franchise doing everything in its power to put a winning team on the ball field.Which is why they really should sign Manny too. COME ON!
Aaron: Personally, I was waiting for just one writer to acknowledge that the signing of Mark Teixeira resulted in the most challenging-to-spell Yankee surname since 1993's Rich Monteleone, Andy Stankiewicz and Scott Kamieniecki trifecta.
Look -- the Player's Association will never sign off on a salary cap, nor should they. Despite my public support for that one-man Muslim sleeper cell/acclaimed Negro socialist who America elected President last November, I'm not in favor of rewarding dumb teams that don't spend by handcuffing the smart ones that do.
As an A's fan, does it suck that our most recognizable name is our insufferable boy-genius General Manager, Billy Beane? Sure. But, when did a New York team outspending everyone else suddenly become news? Too young to remember Ed Whitson and Pascual Perez in the Bronx? How about Bobby Bonilla and Vince Coleman in Queens?
Baseball - hell, ALL sports - need one or two universally despised teams and the Yanks wear the black hat as well as anybody. Maybe the Bombers win the 2009 World Series in a cakewalk. Maybe I'll be listening to a Yankees broadcast this July during the dying days of Sirius XM, certain I can hear the wind whistling through the decomposing form of Jorge Posada as Suzyn Waldman breathlessly updates fans on AJ Burnett's latest rehab start at Single-A while CC Sabathia labors through another 5 IP/5 ER/500 LB. performance.
And if you can't give me that, God, how about an 0-2 start to the Yankees' regular season? It's just that I've been missing those daily newspaper photos of the stock brokers with their hands on their heads, mouths agape and all the color drained from their faces. Hey, I bet some of them are Yankees fans, too!
Joe: Don't sleep on Oscar Azocar or Todd Zeile in the hard-to-spell sweepstakes. Anyway, you hit on actually my main point in the middle of all this outrage: Maybe the Yankees do win the World Series this year. But maybe they DO end up with Zombie Posada and Burnett missing 2/3 of the season and Sabathia is found passed out on the floor of Magnolia Bakery around the end of June. And honestly? I could still go either way. Teixeira is no guarantee. They've got got to actually win the games. If they do, the rest of the baseball world gets to bitch righteously for the next sixth months and have a boogeyman to fight against for a new season. If they don't? The rest of the baseball world gets to whoop it up and cheer and gloat and taunt and chant "Yankees Suck." It's a system that works for everybody, really. If the Yankees stop outspending the rest of the league, the whole delicate system falls apart. And who wants that?
Aaron: Answer: The Blue Jays. And, possibly the Orioles.