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Money can’t buy N.Y. Yankees a ring

A Good Sport, Matt Brown

OK, don’t panic baseball fans. The New York Yankees are not a sure bet to win their bizzillionth World Series now that they’ve acquired Alex Rodriguez. But, unfortunately, they might at least be there again come October.

But there are no sure titles in sports, at least not in this era. Remember that the last two World Series champions could not have been predicted by any logical sports predictor. In 2002, although I’d like to forget, the Anaheim Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants – two teams that no one could have foresaw making it to the Fall Classic that year – and last year the Florida Marlins surprised the sports world by defeating the Yankees.

With its severe case of amnesia, the sports media’s short-term memory gets worse every year, and all anybody has to talk about now is A-Rod jumping on the Bronx bandwagon, hoping that a surrounding all-star cast can bail him out of the “zero world championships” title he wears on his head that every “future Hall of Famer” dreads.

So let’s talk about it, since I’m dying for baseball season to start.

I could care less about the Yankees attempting to “buy” a championship because that trend started in baseball a long time ago. The 1997 Marlins did it, and so did the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. Big deal, if this bothers you about baseball, then you’ll have to get over it because it’s an epidemic – as the 2004 Yankees’ $200 million-plus payroll suggests.

I used to hate it – how sports has become this money-drenched joke, but now I’ve evolved because with every horrible thing in existence, you can find a positive. And there are a couple positives that can be drawn from a pathetic herd of overpaid athletes like the 2004 Yankees.

First, it makes it so much more fun to watch the Yankees lose, because anything less than a World Series ring is considered a failure. So every loss is going to be analyzed under a microscope. It doesn’t even seem fun, in fact. How is it fun for anyone involved? George Steinbrenner – the enforcer of everything baseball in New York – will not be satisfied with anything less than a championship. Manager Joe Torre will perhaps be fired if the Yanks don’t win the championship. The players have to win. The fans expect them to win. That’s a lot of expectation to cram into one week of an eight-month season. See how horrible it is to lose under such intense pressure? Over the course of 162 games, baseball teams lose a lot, and Yankees associates will be blasted for each one. It’s gonna be fun. From a fan’s perspective, half the excitement of a new season is not knowing what to expect. So tell me, what’s so fun about being a Yankees fan?

Second, every year a team with a low payroll upends the Goliaths of the payroll world, or at least makes the playoffs, proving that team chemistry and the will to win is the key to winning – not fat wallets. The Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s are two of those teams, even though they haven’t made it to the Big Show in recent years. When the top eight payrolls start making the playoffs every year, then there is a problem. But I don’t see it happening because younger, unproven players want to prove themselves – and sometimes they end up in the World Series.

Third, there is too much “pretty boy” on the left side of the infield in Yankee stadium. With A-Rod thinking about why shortstop Derek Jeter is a few spots ahead of him on People’s 50 Most Beautiful Persons list, instead of just fielding a grounder, the Yankees are bound to run into trouble. Plus, Jeter should arguably be the one moving to third base because A-Rod is the better shortstop. Hopefully, they won’t get in a fistfight in the tanning salon during preseason. Don’t look now, but on Wednesday, A-Rod adorned ESPN.com’s home page in the race to win the Hottest Male Athlete award for the second year running. Jeter is looking in a mirror right now wondering what’s gone wrong.

Fourth, who cares about the East Coast? Why does it dominate so much of the sports media’s attention? I’m sick of hearing about the Red Sox/Yankees feud. It’s a moral victory for the Red Sox to even make it to the World Series, let alone win it. The Yankees aren’t satisfied unless they win it. Therefore, why even compare the two until the Red Sox win about 20 titles? Instead, talk about what team is going to be the next Marlins. The Pirates? The Tigers? One never knows these days.

Finally, let the Yankees set the standard for failing with the fattest payroll. It’s great. New York city used to be the place to play because it was a holy place to play America’s favorite pastime (oh wait, now that’s the NFL, probably because of selfish organizations like the Yankees). Now it’s the city high-priced players go to try to add that one missing element to their all-star careers – a championship. Good luck, A-Rod. You need it.

In other baseball news, I’m glad Greg Maddux signed with the Chicago Cubs and not the Giants. The Giants don’t need an aging right-hander that can barely throw 90 MPH and who put up his worst ERA since 1987 last season (3.96). It’s better for Cubs fans and Maddux himself that he earns his 300th win in Chicago (right now he has 289), where he began his impressive career.

Actually, I hope Cubs manager Dusty Baker keeps Maddux in one inning too long in the playoffs this year. Baker likes to do stupid things come playoff time.

Matt Brown is sports and

outdoors reporter for the

Sierra Sun.


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