February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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Letter from the Edge: Steinbrenner

Jordan Bell

Managing Editor

Dear George,
Is it impotence? A lack of character? What is it?

What are you trying to make up for when you go out and throw your wads of bling into the fire? With your trade of Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for baseball’s glamour boy, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, your lunacy has jumped to its greatest heights.

Your New York Yankees are now like a porno starring Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jenna Jamison, Elizabeth Figurski, Pamela Anderson, Bridget Moynihan... and a bunch of Western girls.

They’re like a table full of Labatt Blue, Labatt 50, Moosehead, Alexander Keiths and endless shots of sweet, sweet vodka.

Rodriguez (US$25.2 million), Derek Jeter ($18.9 million), Jason Giambi ($17.1 million), Kevin Brown ($15 million), Mike Mussina ($14.75 million), Gary Sheffield ($13 million), Bernie Williams ($12.5 million), Javier Vazquez ($11.25 million), Jorge Posada ($10.2 million) and Mariano Rivera ($10 million) all will make over $10 million next year. Furthermore, the Yankees’ left side of the infield will make $32 million next year. That’s more than the entire 2003 Tampa Bay Devil Rays payroll.

I will be completely honest, the idea of Jeter and Rodriguez manning the infield of the most storied professional sports team on the face of the planet is very intriguing. Trying to hit through the left side of the Yankees’ defense next year will be like trying to snag a casting role in the earlier mentioned film.

But the trade for Rodriguez is just one instance in a long line of professional sports’ business follies. With owners opening their wallets to spend exorbitant amounts of money on a guy who hits and catches a small white ball, professional sports is going the way of the dodo.

The National Hockey League is going to die a slow, painful death next year as a strike is sure to occur over the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring after this season. The battle over revenues has been ongoing between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman argues the current CBA will drive the NHL into extinction, while NHLPA head Bob Goodenow argues that the players salaries aren’t the problem.

The league seemed to gain the striking blow this week when Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, conducted an extensive evaluation and found that NHL players are making 76 per cent of revenues, which he states as completely and utterly debilitating to the future of a business. He added that he would never loan or back a business in a league such as the NHL.

The NBA and Major League Baseball appear to be headed in the same direction. It’s a battle between the haves and have-nots. The Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Lakers and other big market teams spend and spend, while the lesser knowns toil in obscurity. Maybe the solution lies in contraction. Fewer teams, better players, more competition. Maybe that will bring the fans back into the seats.

The future looks gloomy. As fun as it is (catch the sarcasm) to watch A-Rod and Jeter and the rest of the overpaid Yankees decimate virtual farm teams in MLB, it is much more exciting watching two teams duke it out to the bitter end.

Then again, there’s always the Florida Marlins to fall back on.



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