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27 and Team Work

November 12, 2009
tags: ,

I know this is a week old, but….

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Congratulations to the Yankees! 2009 World Series Champions! Big number 27!

As happy as I am about the victory, I know this win will only reboot a few truths that have all but disappeared since their last win in 2000. Of course I mean:

  • Yankees go back into the #1 sport on the “Most Hated Sports Franchise” list (according to an ESPN poll only NY, NJ, and CT don’t “hate the Yankees”)
  • The addition of more band-wagon fans who don’t really follow baseball
  • More people complaining about the Yankees “buying” another World Series.

Being a Yankee fan I’ve continually found myself trying to defend the Yankees enormous payroll. And over the years I’ve learned that I really can’t. And the truth is I don’t like it any better than the average Yankee hater. Of course I won’t complain when Brian Cashman picks up Sabathia, Texeira, Swisher. and Burnett in the off-season. But at the end of the day I hate rooting for a team everyone sees as evil, capitalist, and “corporate”. But you know what? I’m a Yankees fan, and I’m not switching.

Anyways, I’m proud of the Yankees win. And I don’t think they won by payroll alone. Here are some thoughts on the World Series, payroll, and other things baseball. Payroll vs. Team Chemistry

Of course this is the biggest argument against the Yankees. But any baseball fan will know that the Yankees have had the largest payroll over the last eight years and still never won the world series. Surely if one is going to argue that “the largest payroll = a World Championship” there should be a 1:1 ratio. Sure they’ve made the play-offs every year, but they’ve also been stopped short with excellent teams.

Winning baseball isn’t just throwing money around, it’s about teamwork. We found that out with Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and a thousand other players that never worked out. Winning baseball is about a team that plays hard and has fun. It’s about a team that plays like a team, and sacrifices stardom for team unity. I think one of the best pick-ups in the off-season was actually Nick Swisher. Ever since he played for the A’s, I’ve loved his effort on the field and his effect in the club house. I think he (along with AJ Burnett) loosened up the Yankees, and allowed them to play looser. Even my friend who is a season-to-season Yankees hater admitted to me that he liked the Yankees this year. They seemed more lively, and more likable. Less like a bunch of mercenaries, and more like a bunch of grown men loving to play baseball.

I think people should try not to be cynics for once and recognize that more than money won this World Series. It was a fun-loving team that played hard, played well, and stuck together as a team throughout the season. This formula isn’t new; look at the Phillies last year, the Red Sox before them, and the Cardinals before that. You’ll add much more good to the world by teaching your kids that winning baseball is created by team work rather than complain and have them believe that money is the only thing worth playing for.

Yankees aside, there is so much more than spending money that goes into a winning team. Good scouting of young talent for one. Plus a thousand other examples. When people point to the Yankees payroll as the reason for winning I’ll usually assume they don’t know much about baseball. I’ll fully admit that their moves this year and money spent did help them win this year. But hey, if you spent $1.5 billion on a new stadium I’d say spending money on a team is a wise investment. But blame the sport, not the team. Which brings me to my next point…

Salary Caps Won’t Matter

Firstly a salary cap in baseball will probably never happen. I think there are way too many hurdles. But even if there was in place I think teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Dodgers would still dominate for one simple reason: history.

Every player the Yankees sign comments about what an incredible feeling it is to put on pinstripes. The same uniform Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Clemens once wore. Victor Martinez said the same thing about moving to the Red Sox. Of course there is a little voice inside them that says, “I’m rich #$@!” But the second answer is that they are proud to be on such a legendary team. These teams carry with them great history and a loyal and passionate fan base. All things being equal most people want to play for the teams that have baseball in their bloodline. I say bring on the salary cap if you want. A salary cap won’t change the fact that the Yankees symbol is one of the most recognizable characters on the planet, that the Red Sox have more fans at Camden Yards than the Orioles do, or that the Dodgers had the first black player in the league. Salary caps can’t change history.

Give the Phillies More Credit

I don’t think enough people are giving the Phillies credit. They lost, but I think more than the Yankees beating them they beat themselves. Whether it was Ryan Howards cold bat, the complete melt-down of the Phillies bull-pen, or horrific fielding errors, I think the Phillies beat themselves up as much as the Yankees did. The World Series Championship goes to the team that brought the best team to the field, and I think the Yankees proved they did that. But the Phillies are a much better team than the one that showed up. And I think more people need to give the Phillies the credit they deserve.

Shout Out To Matsui

A long time ago when I bought a jersey just outside of Yankees stadium I chose ’55’, Hideki Matsui. I could have gone with a Jeter, a Posada, or even Rivera jersey. Those are all safe choices. But instead I picked Matsui for his clutch hitting, his samurai like composure at the plate, and his consistent RBI numbers.

Now I’m not saying I’m good luck, but the instant I put that jersey on and Hideki stepped up to the plate he nailed that upper deck dinger, and started onto a 6 RBI 3 for 4 night, MVP kinda night. Personally I’m psyched my jersey’s stock value went up. But selfishness aside I’m pumped that Matsui won the MVP. The guy is a professional hitter, an all around great guy (sat out of the WBC because he felt obligated to the Yankees), and proved it on the biggest stage possible.

I don’t know if he’ll be back in pinstripes next year, that’s a tough choice. But regardless the guy is a legend- in Japan and now in the USA. Props Godzilla.

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