Sunday, January 18, 2009

If Jim Rice says its true...

This article caught my eye in Newsday. This isn't so much a criticism of the author, David Lennon, so much as Jim Rice. Why this guy is in the Hall of Fame I will never know.

Rice blames Boss, Yanks on never winning a Series

Great, more Boston bitching. Exactly what we need.

The complaint is not a new one.

You think?

With the Yankees spending nearly half a billion dollars on three players this offseason - CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira - it is hardly a surprise that the Steinbrenner family again is being blamed for squashing any remaining bits of baseball's alleged competitive balance.

Over the past eight years we have had 7 different World Series champions. The only team to win it more than once in those eight years has been the scrappy/gritty/gutsy/beloved underdog/second highest spending team in those eight years Boston Red Sox (at this point it is natural to hear celestial choirs burst out singing).

And it's not just the salary-cap chorus that was heard coming from the owners' meetings this past week in Paradise Valley. With mind-numbing contracts still being handed out in the Bronx despite a flat-lining economy, such talk was to be expected.

Yes! Which means we need a guy who roots for a team that just gambled 13-30 million dollars on the likes of Rocco Baldelli, Takashi Saito, John Smoltz, and Brad Penny to be the valiant defender of small market baseball.

It's debatable whether the Yankees' practice of buying the sport's premier players is actually bad for baseball. What they pay in luxury tax is helping to keep other owners rich in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, though those teams remain perennial bottom-feeders

True dat.

But it was interesting to hear Jim Rice, finally


elected to the Hall of Fame after a 15-year wait, blame George Steinbrenner's checkbook for The Curse of the Bambino. When asked about Boston's failure to win a World Series during his career - 1975 to 1989 - up to the Bambino-busting 2004 season, Rice pointed directly to the Bronx.

For the record, Steinbrenner bought the team in the early '70's. Ruth was sold in the early '20's. Their's about a 50 year gap there....

"During that time, Steinbrenner spent more money than the Red Sox," Rice said. "He had more free agents. So when you get the best free agents, and you get the superstars from other ballclubs, that's what made you have a better team. The more money you can spend, the better you should get."

During that time the Yankees won a grand total of TWO championships. This dwarfed the competition. Only the Reds and Dodgers came close winning a mere two. See? No competitive balance at all.

Rice does have reason to be bitter. From his post in the shadow of the Green Monster, he saw the Yankees buy Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Tommy John, Luis Tiant, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Don Gullett.

And it translated into ultimate domination of the rest of the league!

Even now, Rice remains annoyed by the Yankees' habit of throwing money at their problems. Not surprisingly, he lauds Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein for doing things the right way. "If you look at the Red Sox now, you see them bringing guys up in the organization," he said. "That's why Theo has been the person he's been over the last couple of years. He'll bring young kids up and stay within the organization.

The homegrown starters on that team are Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jacoby Ellsbury. The only homegrown guy expected to be in their rotation is Jon Lester. That's it. The sellout, satanist Yankees have Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, and Brett Gardner as hoemgrown starters. In the rotation they have Wang, Joba, and Hughes (maybe). That took me approximately 2.56545 minutes to look up using the amazing new technology of thinking.

"The Yankees haven't won in the last eight years. What do they do? They go out and buy high-priced players in the hope to get back the winning percentage they had 10 years ago."

This is true. Your point?

Obviously, Rice still bleeds Sox red, but he does have the facts on his side. Since the 2000 World Series, the Yankees have gone to the bank repeatedly for Mike Mussina ($88.5 million), Jason Giambi ($120 million), Carl Pavano ($40 million), Jose Contreras ($32 million), Johnny Damon ($52 million) and Kei Igawa ($20 million) - just to name some notable signings.

You seem to have forgotten a few but that's okay. In that time Boston also managed to pool together enough money to get Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, Manny Ramirez, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz. They also reportedly made a higher bid than the Yanks for Pavano and came close on Damon and Contreras.

That list does not include the renegotiated $275-million contract for Alex Rodriguez or the salary-dump trades that enabled them to get Randy Johnson ($31 million) and Kevin Brown ($31.4 million).

Or Mike Lowell, or Josh Beckett, or Jason Bay.....

Now, after passing on Johan Santana and stressing a youth movement that flopped last season, the Yankees have returned to the megabuck spending that Rice remembers so well.

Unlike the Red Sox who are so daring that they will give the centerfield job to an unproven rookie. They`re also daring enough to give two of the five spots in their rotation to unproven guys in their early 20's.

Wait, that's not Boston.....

Whatever outrage the Sabathia-Burnett-Teixeira axis has generated around the league, any salary-cap showdown between the owners and the Players Association is going to have to wait until after the 2011 season, when the collective-bargaining agreement expires. Major League Baseball remains the only sport among the Big Four without a salary cap. Even if the nation's economy rebounds by then, this dark period is not likely to be forgotten, and the impact won't be known until this season gets under way.


"I think there's a lot of owners that would like to have [a salary cap] right now," A's managing partner Lew Wolff told at the meetings in Arizona.

Where the hell did this guy come from?

Until then, Steinbrenner still will be Steinbrenner - be it George or Hal. Whether 2009 will resemble 1977, '78 or '98 remains to be seen.

And its over.