“Life is a game boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.”
“Yes sir. I know it is. I know it.”
Game , my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right—I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there’s aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.”
—The Catcher in the Rye
DETROIT, MI – As I began watching this year’s baseball playoffs, again without the Mets or Mariners to root for, I started looking down the list of qualifiers to decide who I wanted to throw my angry mojo behind. Of the 10 teams that qualified for the post season, half were in the Top 10 for 2012 payroll, while the other half weren’t. Seemed like a fair split. In the one-game wildcard playoff (or play-in) games, we once again went 50/50 as the upstart Orioles ($81.4 million) beat the Texas Rangers ($120.5 million) while the St. Louis Cardinals ($110.3 million) downed the Braves ($83.3 million). As we rolled into the divisional series, it was clear to me that I was going to be rooting for the have-nots, and that meant the aforementioned Orioles and Oakland Athletics in the American League. Over in the NL I really couldn’t choose anyone, though, like everyone else, I was kinda happy when the Nats got bounced. So, here we find ourselves in the League Championship series, both the A’s and O’s are out (except in Brooklyn where you can here “A!” and “O!” every two feet) and the “green” has once again risen to the top.
Yankees, Tigers, Giants, Cardinals. The four teams left are all in the top ten in league payroll, in that order. While it’s true that some years a low payroll dark-horse makes a run and goes all the way, this ain’t one of those years. While the Tigers have the second highest payroll left in the playoffs, only a scant (by MLB standards) $22-million separates them from the Cardinals. The Yankees, on the other hand, had a 2012 payroll $65-million more than Detroit. For those of you scoring at home, that’s roughly two CC Sabathia’s, one Derek Jeter, and three million left over for Joba Chamberlain’s tornado, tsunami, and midge insurance premiums. Mind, you, this doesn’t guarantee anything, but it sure gives teams like the Yankees, especially the Yankees, a leg up on everyone else. Do you really think the Yanks could have made the playoffs 17 out of the last 18 years if they weren’t outspending everyone… by a lot?
So while the Cards and Giants slug it out on the Senior Circuit side, the Yankees find themselves in a 3-game hole to the Motor City Madmen. Clearly both clubs have plenty of high-priced hot-shots, but I still find myself rooting for the Tigers, if only because I can’t find any good reason to cheer for the Yankees, ever. I’ve heard all the arguments including: “You’re from New York, why can’t you just pull for the team from your city?” To which I respond, “Hey Donald Trump’s in New York too, and I always root for him to fail.” As brutal as it can be to support the Mets, I think it must be equally infuriating to be a Yankees fan, as they are the main example that people use when they argue that “we’re all just rooting for laundry.” They have a handful of likable players like Sabathia, Mo Rivera, and Jeter, but they also are home to the most reviled player in baseball, A-Rod. The former holder of that title, Roger Clemens, also called the Bronx home. The rest of the roster turns over every few years with a new crop of soldiers of fortune, with an emphasis on the “fortune” grabbing fistfuls of cash, donning pinstripes, and attempting to win a title on what amounts to an all-star team. Again, it doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s pretty sickening. They aren’t so much “The House that Ruth Built” as they are “The House.” In a sport that still seems to have an upper, middle, and lower class, the Bombers are baseball’s ultimate one-percenters, attempting to steamroll all in their path.
I put it to you Yankees fans, is there any instance where you could see yourself no longer able to root for your team? A player or players joining the club that you just can’t stomach? An owner or ownership group buying the team? Some sort of horrible scandal? If not, what does that say about you, or the rest of us for that matter? Anyway, I’m not trying to pile on while the Bombers are on the brink. The reason they’re here is a matter of the corporate monster they created and simple Yankonomics. $65-million edge on Detroit – Derek Jeter injury ($15.7-million) – A-Rod absolutely sucks ($29-Million) – Robinson Cano couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat ($14-million) – Mariano Rivera (can’t put a price tag on it) = The Yankees Lose! Theeeeee Yankees lose!
Come back tomorrow for a couple of winners, Lori Levine’s top shelf… oh and Cam James too.