After Joe e-mailed me the news of the A.J. Burnett signing, I forwarded the confirmation along to my dad, and he and I had a brief e-mail exchange about it.
Dad: Well, it’s hard to know what to say. Don’t you see the sickness of the system?
Me: Yes I do. I hope the Yanks ask for some more tax-free stadium bonds too.
Dad: They don’t make it easy to be a pure fan.
Now, of course, that exchange is dominating by a bit of hyperbole. The Yankees are in reality spending money they have coming off the books, and the stadium construction, which somehow allows them to deduct from their revenue-sharing payments, is actually helping them afford these free agents. (In a poorly-constructed screed, FoxSports.com’s Mark Kriegel attempts to explain the Yanks’ economic position here.)
But my dad isn’t the only one unamused with and rather skeptical of the Yankees right now. Cliff Corcoran at the Banter utterly hates this deal (and later explained why.) Jay Jaffe isn’t a fan of this signing either. Even the Marlins’ team president David Samson had some choice words for the Yanks.
I’ll admit it. It’s hard to root for a team that’s simply trying to overwhelm everyone else by throwing money at a baseball problem, and if the Yanks do indeed sign a Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn to shore up the offense, this will truly be a team of highly-paid (and some may say overly-paid) mercenaries set to debut a ballpark that was built more as a major of revenue than as a true necessity.
But as my dad and I were later saying on the phone to each other, the Yanks aren’t doing anything against the rules. They’re overpaying for the best free agents because they can and because the system allows them to. So they’re willing to spend nearly $250 million on pitchers in a time of a deep recession. So they’re willing to jack up their payroll to astronomical heights. Baseball allows it; what should stop them?
Of course, I’ll root for the Yanks with way more emotion than any rational person would. I’ll continue to take it personally when they lose and continue to be more frustrated with their opponents than the players are. That’s just the nature of fandom. But at the same time, I can’t help but think that a system where the Yanks can toss money at problems may not be the best for the game and may very well be broken. I’m just glad I’m not the person in charge of fixing it.