Thursday, December 1, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:28 AM
As you know, last night, baseball's stately plantation owners and prideful migrants achieved labor harmony. They have tweaked the current system and greased the wheels of prosperity through 2021.
Quick question: Where the hell are you?
Actually, that's a trick question. We know where you are: Somewhere in the fine print, lurking in the boilerplate, hidden in a phrase or dangling in a participle... waiting to someday emerge like Melania Trump's immigration papers.
At least, that's what I hope.
From first impressions, the new baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) keeps the de-facto payroll caps that crushed the Yankees in the early 2010s and turned the team into a big city version of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Today, the questions are the ones always asked after such a deal is made:
Is there a loophole, and can the Yankees exploit it? Make no mistake: That is Brian Cashman's job. And by the way, he won't hold a news conference and announce it. Don't expect quick analyses. That's how loopholes - and devils - work their magic.
The Yankees built their 1996-2003 dynasty, in large part, on a newly found revenue stream called the YES Network. MLB reacted by imposing huge luxury taxes on the big-spending teams (the Yankees), while other franchises built their own TV networks. Ever since, the Yankees have been a nostalgia act, presenting aging stars in season-long Old-Timers Day pageants, as they chased Wild Cards.
Obviously, sitting here this morning, I can't identify a loophole. The luxury tax cap will rise by a few million each year, but if Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner stays above it for too long, his tax rate will skyrocket. The Yankees must still get below the threshold every few years - while balancing the long-term deals that top stars demand. It's a Catch-22 that the Yankees have yet to solve.
Last year, after four seasons of mediocrity, Hal finally threw in the towel, traded veterans for prospects and vowed to rebuild - just like Kansas City does. Now, we hope a wave of young stars will lift this team. But if it does happen, will the Yankees be able to keep them, when they demand to be paid like stars?
Don't get me wrong, Luce. This agreement is probably fair to all owners. Trouble is, most teams seek pennants. A few annually chase world championships. The Yankee tradition is to think of dynasties. That's where you come in.
Somewhere in the details, we need a devil.