The Commish Online                                                                                
Yankee Dynasty - Good or Bad?
March 13, 2003

Welcome to the inaugural Bunker & Dewey column.  In this column, Bunker, a middle aged traditionalist, will debate various topics with Dewey, a bright eyed young realist who knows the "good ol' days" weren't always that good.  At the end of each column, The Commish will give his verdict on the winner of the debate and you too can vote your opinion.

This week's topic:
Does the Yankee dynasty and its ability to buy every talented player on the market help or hurt baseball?

Bunker: Easy question.  Of course it helps!  What would baseball be without the Yankees?

Dewey: A competitive game in which many teams have a chance to win the World Series.

B: In other words, it would be like the NFL, where any team over .500 can win it all.  No thanks.

D: No, because the playoffs only include the four best teams in each league and dismantling the Yankees would just ADD talent to every team.

B: Adding 1 player to each team, or at least spreading out the talent evenly (since we're not really talking about dismantling the Yankees, just taking away their god given right to be a rich team), won't make a difference.  What baseball really needs to do is eliminate about six teams; then the talent level would be greater around the whole league.

D: That's not the issue here, though.  Teams aren't going to disappear, and contraction seems to have gone by the wayside, so unless Major League Baseball makes greater attempts at curbing the Yankees' spending, there will always be about ten teams with no chance to win every year.

B: But nobody wants to see those teams win anyway.  In fact, the biggest attraction of the Yankees is the "love or hate" relationship with the fans.  Most people would rather root against the Yankees in the World Series than watch the Angels play the Giants, as last year's TV ratings demonstrate.  Without the Yankees, there is little or no emotional interest in the teams except from the fans of the two cities.

D: That's only because those teams don't have a chance at keeping their superstars.  If the Expos were able to pay Pedro, the Big Unit, Larry Walker and others, then people WOULD care about them.

B: Let me remind you that the Yankees haven't won since 2000, the Twins and Oakland were in last year's playoffs, and the Expos finished in 2nd place behind the boring Braves but ahead of the overspending Mets.

D: Let me remind you that the Yankees were a Gonzo bloop single away from winning it all in 2001, and they still were in the playoffs last year.  Meanwhile, the Pirates haven't even seen the north side of .500 in over ten years.  Even though the Twins and other teams occasionally have good seasons, the Yankees' spending has unfairly given them the opportunity to win every year.  With eight playoff teams, it's natural that the other seven (six with the Braves of late) will rotate quite a bit while the Yankees remain a constant.

B: First of all, you're confusing unfairness with bad ownership and management.  Pittsburgh is a large enough city to support a team and they just built a new stadium, so if their owner chooses not to spend his money and field a competitive team, that's his problem.  Look no further than the Derek Bell signing recently to see how bad the management has been.

D: Everyone makes mistakes, but if Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Montreal, and others make a mistake, they pay for it in the standings.  When the Yankees falter and make a bad management decision, they just buy another player and keep on chugging.  That's why they have seven great to serviceable starting pitchers.  If one is a bust, they just move on to the next.  You can't compete with that.

B: Well, the Diamondbacks and Angels have shown that you CAN compete with that, but I know I won't win that argument, so I'll just go back to saying that the Yankees' winning ways create interest on both sides.  Nobody is indifferent to the Yankees - you either love them or hate them, and teams like that are great for the game because they create fan interest which is the most important thing.

D: I agree that the Yankees create fan interest, but I also believe that fan interest in the game would be even greater if the Yankees were just another team and more teams had a chance to compete.  The little bit of lost interest in the Yankees would be more than made up by a bunch of more meaningful games between teams like San Diego, Montreal, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc.  Baseball needs fan interest from all markets, not just the major ones.

The Commish's verdict:  Bunker
Dewey made a good last-ditch effort, but every non-Yankees fan loves to hate them.  No matter what baseball does to balance the competition (salary cap, contraction, excessive luxury tax implications), nothing will match the passion of fans rooting for or against the New York Yankees.