Yankees miss playoffs, owner makes excuses

24 09 2008

If you follow Major League Baseball at all, you know that the New York Yankees are typically in the playoffs.  They have won either their division or wild card for the past 13 years (1995-2007), a streak second only to the Atlanta Braves.  But this year the Yankees will not be playing in October.  Last night they were mathematically eliminated from the postseason.  As a Red Sox fan, this makes me really happy (because I’m required to root against the Yankees, and I would even if I wasn’t “required” to).

As you might expect, not all of the Yankees have taken it well.  But I’d like to point out how a few of them responded to this.

Derek Jeter took responsibility for their failure, which is commendable:

It basically boils down to we weren’t good enough.  That’s the only way you can put it.  Our team didn’t play well enough the whole season in order to get to where we needed to be.  It’s a huge disappointment.  That’s pretty much all you can say. ~ Derek Jeter

While I happen to think Jeter is one of the most overrated players in sports, I do respect him for his dedication, commitment, and responsibility.  (Yes, even though he’s on the Yankees!)  Hank Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, made excuses right after they were eliminated:

The biggest problem is the divisional setup in major league baseball.  I didn’t like it in the 1970s, and I hate it now.  Baseball went to a multi-division setup to create more races, rivalries and excitement.  But it isn’t fair.  You see it this season, with plenty of people in the media pointing out that Joe Torre and the Dodgers are going to the playoffs while we’re not.  This is by no means a knock on Torre — let me make that clear — but look at the division they’re in.  If L.A. were in the AL East, it wouldn’t be in the playoff discussion.  The AL East is never weak. ~ Hank Steinbrenner

I didn’t hear any of the Yankees ownership griping when they got into the playoffs the past 13 years — where was their complaining then?  And if he’s not making a “knock on Torre”, why would he even include his name?  He could say “other divisions” and all baseball fans would know which one he’s talking about.

Hank Steinbrenner is accurate in saying the AL East is never weak — it is the toughest division in baseball again this year.  But even if the divisional structure were changed to one of the previous standards, the Yankees would still not be in the playoffs.  Any advantage they would gain would also be gained by the teams that finished above them, namely, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

I have to make one statement about the Yankees this year:

$200 million just doesn’t buy what it used to.

What’s really ironic is when you look at the Yankees’ payroll versus other teams who made the playoffs, particularly the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished ahead of the Yankees in the same division.

Yankees 2008 opening day payroll: $209 million
Rays 2008 opening day payroll: $43 million

The Yankees’ payroll was ahead of all other teams, by a lot (over $70M more than the 2nd highest).  Now I want to point out just how unfair the Yankees’ payroll is compared to the Rays (who, remember, beat the Yankees this year).  The left side of the Yankees infield, shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, made a combined $49.6M.  Now compare that to the payroll of the entire Rays team: $43M.  The Yankees outfield, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui, made a combined $42M, which is almost as much as the entire Rays team of 24 players.  The Yankees starting rotation (pitchers) made more than the Rays payroll.

So obviously there’s a huge imbalance there, but you don’t hear the Yankees complaining about that!  So it’s really awesome that the Rays have done as well as they did, with the second-lowest payroll in all of baseball.  They can’t afford the high-dollar superstars, but they developed their players through their farm system, and they play together as a team.  What’s more, the Rays had the worst win-loss record last year, of all teams, so their turnaround is really incredible.  If you like rooting for the underdog team, they’re the ones to root for this year.

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One response

14 10 2008
Reason

yankees are overrated. plain and simple. no money can buy enough talent to win a world series period. world series are EARNED not bought. so steinbrenner can take is crying elsewhere. maybe on his million dollar yacht.

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