The Yankees continue to drag their feet on ways to improve the team under the guise of outstanding and forthcoming revenue loss. Don’t buy it.
The Yankees claim, and proportionately it’s probably true, that they lost the most revenue of any baseball team during last year’s pandemic afflicted season.
However, what’s hard to buy into is Hal Steinbrenner’s edict directing Brian Cashman to stay beneath this year’s salary cap (yes, let’s call it what it is) and avoid paying a luxury tax at the end of the upcoming season.
With the proviso that no business person sets himself up to lose money, everything is relative, and this is especially true of the New York Yankees.
According to Forbes, Hal Steinbrenner and family (see featured image) are worth $3.8 billion, making them the 75th richest family in the United States.
Contrast against the patriarch of the family, George Steinbrenner, who bought the Yankees for a paltry $10 million in 1971 against the value of his self-made shipbuilding industry.
A Yankees Legacy On The Brink Of Extinction
Then, spending money that came from his personal bank accounts to make the Yankees what they are – the richest team in all of baseball with an estimated value today of $5 billion, or 500 times more than the original investment.
Little did George Steinbrenner know when he passed in 2010 after going all out to sign CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeria to help bring the Yankees their last World Series title in 2009, that his favorite son would be standing here today quibbling about paying a few dollars more to sign DJ LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, and others.
Team owners operate on the divided and slippery slope of loyalty to their shareholders and the team’s fans.
But in this case, Hal Steinbrenner is making a mockery of his dad’s legacy and he should be ashamed of himself.
Has the Yankees’ principal owner become so ingrained with his peers in the exclusive “Owner’s Club” he has lost sight of what the Yankee’s franchise and legacy stand for?
Has Hal Steinbrenner lost touch with his dad in ways that would mark him as the black sheep of the family in days gone by?
MLB Owners Operating In A Vacuum
Look, it’s a given that all owners are operating in a vacuum of needed knowledge that enables them to put together a realistic budget for the 2021 season.
MLB and the Player’s Union still owe answers on the DH in the National League, if Spring Training and the ensuing regular season will be delayed, the number of players on a team’s active roster, and the number of teams that will qualify for the 2021 playoffs.
But none of these issues have anything to do with the Yankees’ profit and loss statements over the last decade when money was printed in the Yankees and their shareholders’ coffers.
Paralysis In The Yankees Organization
DJ LeMahieu, as an example, has indicated he wants to play the 2021 season and beyond wearing the Yankee pinstripes.
In turn, the Yankees have not been bashful in stating their need to have the versatile 2020 AL Batting Champion on their team.
By all accounts, both sides are apart by about $25 million, which indicates an entire season, as the Yankees don’t want to offer five years, a deal that would end when DJ is 37.
So, what is this? Are the Yankees punishing themselves for stupidly taking on the contract of Giancarlo Stanton, who will collect $218 million before his contract expires at the age of 39?
And then we have the case of Masahiro Tanaka, another free-agent who has indicated a strong desire to remain with the Yankees, but if forced into a corner he’d just as soon return to Japan to finish out his career.
This is an abominable state of events when you consider that Tanaka has been the Yankees’ most consistent pitcher both in the regular and postseason for the duration of his just-completed $155 million contract with the team.
Only 32, Tanaka will pitch at a high level until the day he decides he no longer wishes to compete. It’s not about money, either, as a safe bet is to assume he has every last penny he has earned and has been living on the interest while the principal stays protected.
Possessed with a desire for excellence in the same vein as elite pitchers like Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer – Tanaka is a master of consistency, offering repetitive and refined mechanics that reduce chances of injury.
So what’s the holdup?
Hal Steinbrenner: Sins Of The Son
I stop short of calling it greed on the part of Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankee’s shareholders he represents.
Instead, I see the Yankee’s current offseason stance as a digression from the brand, the one that previously distinguished this storied franchise from the rest of baseball.
I see a Yankees brand led by one of baseball’s richest families that is quite comfortable drawing 3+ million fans at exorbitant prices in the plush confines of Yankee Stadium.
I see a cool, calm, and collected Hal Steinbrenner mouthing insincere words at season’s end when the Yankees fall short of (even) an appearance in the World Series.
In contrast, I see Yankees players who are genuinely upset and disappointed at being stuck on twenty-seven.
"It's a failure"
A disappointed Aaron Judge on the Yankees falling short of the World Series pic.twitter.com/Sk696Mwxn3
— Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) October 20, 2019
I see a Yankees general manager who will be carrying the title as the team’s longest-tenured GM in their history. Brian Cashman, the man who built his legacy on the back of Gene Michael, the GM who put together the Core Five and the sting of four Championships over five years.
I see a Yankees manager in Aaron Boone who was hired primarily because of his communication skills constantly resorting to “talking points” and spin, rather than confronting the failures of a team – his team – that can’t seem to muster the ability to compete in the postseason.
In short, I see a Yankees franchise that is a mere shadow of itself. An organization that is losing its religion and has no direction home.
A Yankees franchise on the verge of being swept away by the excitement and enthusiasm of Steve Cohen and the legion of Mets fans with newfound hope for tomorrow.
Do I/We Have A Right To Feel Cheated And Betrayed
You can say it’s not my money and what right do I or anyone have to ridicule the Steinbrenner family for taking a guarded stance on spending this year.
But it is my money when I’m forced to pay upwards of $500 to entertain three family members or friends for a single regular-season game, including the cost of tickets, $45 parking, overpriced food and beverages, and a $45 hat for the little one that Walmart sells for $7.50.
You can then say it’s my choice to go to a Yankees game. And I say, no it’s not my choice. I have been a loyal fan of the team for more than a half-century. I’ve grown up with the Yankees and the legacy of players wearing the pinstripes.
Yankees: Seemingly A Franchise Satisfied With Mediocrity
And it sickens me to watch as Hal Steinbrenner shows no regards for my loyalty, as well as millions of fans who follow the team, paying their fair share of the revenue absorbed by the Yankees, choosing instead to plot a budget that ensures his shareholders receive a handsome yearly dividend check.
DJ LeMahieu is only the tip of the iceberg of a Yankees franchise that speaks from both sides of its mouth. LeMahieu is absolutely a necessity on one hand, but not enough to warrant paying a few dollars more like a luxury tax.
There’s no sense in it. Say what you will about The Boss, but may he rest in peace, safe from what we are witnessing today as the Yankees continue their march towards mediocrity.