Damn it feels good to be a Yankee


As Opening Day dawns, MLB and its Players Union have each unwittingly taken a step closer toward the looming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. The current CBA is set to expire in December of 2011, and as baseball economics for the 2010 season have come into focus, a few running themes have emerged.

First, it’s good for the wallet to be a Yankee. Just last week, the UK-based Sporting Intelligence published its first Annual Review of Global Sports Salaries. Although the report itself costs a pretty penny, the company issued a release summarizing their findings, and the Yankees came out on top. According to the report, the Yanks’ first-teamers — generally, their starters — earn an average of over $7 million a year topping the $6.4 million figure that Real Madrid’s front learn earns annually. Nice work if you can get it.

Meanwhile, within baseball, the Yankees obviously come out on top. USA Today released its own annual salary survey today, and the results place the Yanks first and the Red Sox second. Interestingly, 14 of the 30 teams have cut their Opening Day salaries from 2009 to 2010, and the average Opening Day salary increased just one percent from $3.26 million to $3.27. According to USA Today, that one-percent jump is the game’s smallest since salaries decreased in 2004.

The Yankees and the Red Sox, though, continued their war atop the AL East. Scott Boeck and Bob Nightengale write:

The New York Yankees retain their lead with a payroll of $206.3 million, a 2% increase, while their chief American League East rival, the Boston Red Sox, are second at $162.4 million, a 33% increase. The Yankees, whose payroll is nearly six times that of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ $34.9 million, are led by third baseman Alex Rodriguez‘s $33 million salary. New York’s starting infield will earn $85.2M, more than 16 teams.

“We’re struggling to sign [first baseman Prince Fielder],” Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said, “and the Yankees infield is making more than our team.”

Therein lies the rub. The Yankees entire roster averages $5.5 million per player this year, and the Red Sox are at $3.75 million. The rest of baseball will be gunning for these two teams next year, but the real question is whether or not the Yanks’ and Boston’s relative wealth is a problem.

On the one hand, the money gives these two teams a clear competitive advantage. The Yanks and Red Sox have appeared in six of the last ten World Series, and these two teams made 15 combined postseason appearances during the decade of the double-zeroes. The Phillies, the NL’s representative in the previous two World Series, have the second highest payroll in the Senior Circuit. Money, it seems, has become a proxy for winning over the long haul.

On the other hand, the game is enjoying unprecedented economic success. New stadiums, most of them government-funded, dot the country, and revenues topped $6 billion in 2009. Fans flock to see the Red Sox and the Yankees travel the country, and the game is better off for it. Teams won’t agree to a salary cap or a salary floor, but the players and owners will still try to limit the perceived economic — if not competitive — imbalance in the AL East.

Today, we celebrate Opening Day on the field with the pomp and circumstance it deserves. The Yanks may have walked away from an ugly game with a bad loss last night, but that hardly dulls my excitement for the return of a full slate of regular season baseball. On the horizon, though, looms economic machinations, and as good as the Yankees have it on the field and in their savings accounts today, all of baseball will be gunning for the top dogs both on and off the field over the next two season.

Categories : News


  1. Jamal G. says:

    I hope the headline is not lost on most. Nice one.

  2. I understand that the MLB financial system may make it harder on teams like Milwaukee, but I am sick of hearing Attanasio run his mouth about the Yankees. You’re not the only mid-market team, princess. Suck it up.

  3. Ray Fuego says:

    People overreact sometimes….
    Last night had its good points and its bad points. The bad points just tell us people are warming up. The good points of last night’s game tell us once people get going they gonna get hot.

  4. pete says:

    Ya know what? The Yanks and Sox have to beat each other out to reach the playoffs, while a team can win the NL West with a team that wouldn’t even come close to competing in the AL East. The only disadvantaged teams are the Rays/Jays/Orioles, but their competitive disadvantage allows them to stockpile high draft picks, and their competition brings a ton of revenue in 36 times a year, so suck it.

  5. Jamal G. says:

    Why is Mark Attanasio always whining? After the Mark Teixeira signing, he had the following to say: http://bit.ly/cqPrSh

    Frankly, the sport might need a salary cap.

    Obviously, the 34 percent they kick into the revenue- sharing pool and the luxury taxes don’t affect them one whit.

    I paid $220 million for my team; now they get three players for $420 million.

    “At some point it gets to be absurd when a team has a $200 million payroll,” he said, adding that the Brewers won’t raise their $81 million payroll because of the recession.

    He says this in the article Ben linked to:

    We’re struggling to sign (first baseman Prince Fielder),” Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said, “and the Yankees infield is making more than our team.

    Abe Simpson said it best: “Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch.”

    • “I paid $220 million for my team; now they get three players for $420 million.”

      Sounds like a relatively cheap franchise… I guess you should have plenty of money left over to spend on players.

      You want to own a team that makes more money than a team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? Buy a team that doesn’t play in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and stop bitching.

      • Chris says:

        Look at it another way. He bought into a relatively cheap franchise that in a small market. If he can play the political cards right and get MLB to redo the revenue sharing/luxury tax to help out small market teams, then the value of his team jumps significantly. This isn’t some altruistic argument about making fans happy. This is about him wanting to make more money by increasing the value of his team.

    • Beamish says:

      The average net worth of an MLB owner is $1.7 BILLION

      If they want more success or to keep their best players then they can invest in their own product – just as George did in 1970′s. & 80′s Steinbrenner did not start playing with house money until the 90′s. For over 20 years he pumped his own wealth into the team when necessary.

      • A.D. says:

        Attanasio, should know what he’s getting himself into when he bought the Brewers, which isn’t exactly a team with big market potential.

        Otherwise he might be a little more money conscious after the bank hes an MD at had their assets under management fall ~20-25%

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

      What Attanasio is really saying is that “We’re struggling to sign (first baseman Prince Fielder), to a contract where he doesn’t make the full amount of what he deserves.

    • Thomas says:

      He isn’t bitching, he is complimenting the Yankees, but it came out unclear.

      What he said: I paid $220 million for my team; now they get three players for $420 million. Obviously, the 34 percent they kick into the revenue- sharing pool and the luxury taxes don’t affect them one whit. Frankly, the sport might need a salary cap.

      What he was trying to say: The Yankees are just awesome. The Yankees just added three players who are almost twice as valuable as my entire organization. Major league baseball has attempted to handicap them and limit their greatness with luxury tax and revenue sharing. However, still no one still can compete with them. The next logical step might be a salary cap just to hurt them and give us a chance. Without that salary cap though, the Yankees organization is just run so efficiently, that no other franchise has a shot at beating them.

      This was all a big misunderstanding.

  6. Chris says:

    I find it kind of funny that the 12th team on the list is a cricket team. Who knew there was so much money in a sport where a single game can take more than one day…

    Also interesting that more than half of the teams are in the NBA.

  7. Jake H says:

    How can the 19th largest market have the 2nd largest payroll? My mind is blown!

  8. Andy_C_23 says:

    “Hey teams of MLB, I got something for ya. And if you don’t like it ya can stick it up in ya mother’s twat”


  9. Beamish says:

    during the decade of the double-zeroes.

    I prefer “The Aughts”…

  10. Jammy Jammers says:

    He’ll get his due when MADD goes after his franchise.

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