“I’m surprised to hear that there’s anger if you see what we’ve done this offseason,” Steinbrenner said.
Well, where do I start?
What the Yankees did this offseason was watch two key players walk, buy a retread thirdbaseman to replace the hobbled boondoggle known as Arod, and let an antique lineup grow yet another year slower, older and more frighteningly fragile. Nobody but a Steinboy would say the Yankees improved their team with free agents or youth from the farm. And the reason is that pitbull commitment to the magic $189 million goal.
Listen... to me, baseball has always resembled the national model for college football. You have your Alabamas, and you have your Vanderbilts. They play in the same conferences. One spends a billion dollars on its weight rooms. The other teaches kids to read. (OK, that's another morality, which we won't bother with.) If I grow up as a diehard fan of the Crimson Tide, well, I damn well expect Nick Saban to do whatever the hell it takes to recruit the best players, appease the ghost of Bear Bryant and beat the living smegma out of Vanderbilt, 54-0, every damn year. Hell, I pay $20,000 for season tickets, and they rattle a cup for more donations. So if the owner - or college president - suddenly says, "We're not going to spend any more than Vanderbilt next season," you better believe that I'm going to go bonkers.
By the way, how convenient is it that college football and basketball - the NCAA's two cash cows - put absolutely no restrictions on how much money can go into weight rooms, private jets, coaching salaries, child abuse coverups and payments to coaching mistresses -- but it stipulates that no college athlete ever gets one extra thin dime in payment for putting his head on the chopping block for the old Alma Mater?
Meanwhile, in pro sports, where the owners must bid on on talent, the scions of the game artificially - socialistically, you might say - cap payroll spending, seeking to make all the teams equal. They want no Alabamas - or New York Yankees. They want everybody to be Vanderbilt (without, of course, learning no kids to read.) Remember - and I've said this many times - the MLB owners are just billionaires pretending to be millionaires, so we'll feel sorry for them. AND I NEVER FEEL SORRY FOR THEM.
And Hal can't understand the anger?
Well, a couple more things here, because it's Friday and I'm on a ripping coffee jag....
Imagine the Yankees as Alabama, OK? Imagine the Crimson Tide if it abruptly stops recruiting. Because that's us. And imagine the Alabama fan base after it loses to Vanderbilt, 36-0. Because that's us. The 2013 Yankee lineup will be ancient. One injury domino could follow another, and you can easily envision a Boston-baked meltdown by mid summer, with the Yankiverse absolutely exploding into rage. What happens then? Will Hal abandon the $189 million plan, which caused this problem? Will we scrap the long-term strategy and start trading youngsters? Because that's how Old George launched the Yankees' 11-year barf back in 1983: He couldn't stick to a plan.
This winter, the Yankees did one thing that inspires hope. They added a second team in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. They're using their money to build a bigger pipeline. Hopefully, they'll hire the best scouts, best coaches, etc. - and build from the ground up. If we're capped at the payroll - damn - let's build an infrastructure like Alabama's. Trouble is, it won't bear fruit until arond 2018 - and God knows what the Steinbros will be doing by then.
A storm's a brewin,' folks.
This will be a memorable Yankee year.
Trouble is, we might want to forget it.