“Maybe the Yankees should bail out the auto industry,” a bitter Mets fan friend of mine quipped after the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira to a $180 million contract, bringing their off season spending spree to $423.5 million when you include the deals for pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
I’m a long-time Yankee fan who misses the teams of the late 1990s not only because they won four World Series, but because I enjoyed rooting for them. Those were true teams — aided by a high payroll, no doubt — but composed of guys like Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, etc. These guys functioned beautifully as a team, combining great pitching, solid defense, and incredible clutch hitting. But after their devastating loss to the Diamondbacks in 2001, they abandoned the idea of building a true team, and instead began to go after whatever superstars were free agents or on the trading block — like Giambi and A-Rod — and it’s just never been the same for Yankees fans. I find it hard to root for A-Rod, because, whatever his numbers during the regular season, he plays the game without passion, and always chokes in October. Give me a Brosius any day of the week.
So, as I take a look at this year’s off-season acquisitions by the Yankees, I’m anticipating that these superstars will either get injured, or have their production seriously curtailed in the new Yankee stadium. And there’s a good chance they’ll blow it in October — if they make it there.