The Yankees reminded everyone they are the United States of baseball. Curiously, even with unmatched resources, their power is only sparingly unleashed…
At times, the Yankees, much like the United States of America, appear to be embarrassed by their wealth and power.
Accused and named by competitors as the Evil Empire, the Yankees have spent all of the last decade playing by rules outlined in MLB’s “salary cap” – the luxury tax – even though there was never a pressing financial need to do so.
As baseball’s Gentle Giant, the Yankees have been pushed around and beaten down over several tries to gain that elusive 28th World Championship.
The Yankees could have signed Bryce Harper last offseason as a player born to be a Yankee, performing at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
Instead, he went to Philadelphia, where he was sucked up by Phillies owner John Middleton, who was operating with a vow to “spend stupid,” and to take no prisoners.
With disbelief, we read the words telling us the Washington Nationals had “outbid” the Yankees, signing Patrick Corbin, a fourteen game-winner for the 2019 World Champions, while the Yankees watched on television as losers of the ALCS.
The Yankees awaken with resolve
It was then, I believe that the wheels started to turn, and the Gentle Giant began to awake with a vow to show its might, will, and resources to claim what many have said is the best pitcher in baseball.
Releasing his general manager Brian Cashman to pull out all the stops, and with the ghost of his father urging him on, Hal Steinbrenner pushed the nuclear button.
There was a cozy visit and a cross-country trip to Gerrit Cole‘s homeland in Southern California. During which former Yankees great Andy Pettitte explained in his laid back country-boy style – player to player – what it meant to be a New York Yankee.
But ultimately, as these things always are, everything rested on money and how much of it the Yankees were willing to part with.
As we now know, the locomotive had left the station in New York, not to be stopped until the Yankees had their man and a signed nine-year contract making Cole the wealthiest player ever to play the game.
With a single-minded resolve and purpose, reminding of the United States venture to the moon, the Yankees pulled it off, leaving the Dodgers and Angels in their wake.
Here’s Brian Cashman on landing his “White Whale”:
Overdramatizing the signing
Overdramatizing the signing of Gerrit Cole, as you might think I am doing here, is possible but not probable. Overnight, the odds of the Yankees winning the World Series went for 5:1 to 3:1 in Las Vegas.
Nothing, of course, is guaranteed. Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez need to stay on the field, putting up real numbers to support Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, and Gleyber Torres.
James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino must hold down the rest of the rotation behind Cole.
Las Vegas has placed the “over-under” for the Yankees at 101, meaning if you were to place a bet, you would say the team will win more or less than that number. They should be able to win that many with one hand tied behind their back.
The regular season is meaningless and will be played out as exhibition games, with little or no drama and fun, except for perhaps the “Field of Dreams” game in Iowa this August. There’s only the postseason and the World Series.
Yankees: Mission Accomplished and that’s all that matters
And like the United States, there is no financial reason for the Yankees to stop here. The eleven or so million dollars they will pay as a luxury tax is merely a penny in the pond, a rounding error, and the cost of keeping J.A. Happ if he can’t be traded.
But the Gentle Giant will stop adding more weapons to its already potent arsenal. It’s on the players from this point forward.
It’s akin you could say to the generals telling the President, “If you give us that wildly expensive stealth bomber, we can win the war for you and the country.”
Hal Steinbrenner and his family have complied with the request. Now, it’s up to the army in the clubhouse to win the war.