It’s almost unnecessary to defend the Yanks’ recent spending spree. Yankee fans love it, and Yankee haters won’t like no matter how much logic you throw their way. But for some reason, that fact of life hasn’t prevented Randy Levine from excusing the Yanks’ spending spree.
In a Michael Schmidt piece in The Times today, Levine defends the Yankees’ big contracts. “The philosophy of George Steinbrenner, which has been continued by Hal and Hank, is that the Yankees are a sacred trust to their fans and they believe in continually reinvesting in the team rather than reinvesting in themselves,” Levine said to Schmidt. “We follow all the rules of baseball, we pay millions of dollars to other teams and we are essential to the revenues generated by Major League Baseball and its networks and other entities.”
In signing C. C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett to big free-agent contracts and reaching agreement with Mark Teixeira on an eight-year, $180 million deal, the Yankees have now spent far more money this off-season than the other 29 major league teams combined. For those keeping score, it is $423.5 million to $296.6 million. That kind of discrepancy is too much for some commentators and for the Milwaukee Brewers’ owner, Mark Attanasio, who on Tuesday resurrected the idea of a salary cap as a way of reining in the Yankees.
Levine will have none of it. He said that the Yankees, by spending substantially on players, were making sure they remained a top asset in the sport. “We are usually in the top of road attendance and we get some of the highest television ratings, both when we play national games and when we visit other teams,” he said. He said if the Yankees’ new stadium, which will be ready for the 2009 season, allows the team’s revenue to increase, then “so will the revenues of the rest of the game.”
Levine added: “We are sensitive to the economic times and our fans. We believe it is good for the franchise and good for the fans to put the best product possible on the field, and that is what we strive to do.”
As Mike noted yesterday, baseball doesn’t need a salary cap, and anyone who says so right now is just envious of the Yankees’ situation. They’re doling out less money so far in 2009 than they did in 2008, and the reason they spent so much this year was because they could. The Yanks knew the 2008 free agent class was ripe for the picking, and they knew they had the money. It would have been far, far worse had they not spent.
Of course, ESPN will complain. Other owners will complain. But when it the time comes for the Yanks to visit, 29 other teams will look forward to the sell outs and capacity crowds that follow the Bombers on the road. It’s just a fact of baseball life, and no one should criticize or excuse a team that has money and knows how to spend it.