We’ve finally reached it. We’ve come to the place where the reality and fantasy mix and you don’t know where the dream world ends and the real world begins. That’s right folks, we officially live in The Matrix.
In case you haven’t heard, the New York Yankees just handed out what may be the most ridiculous contract in Major League Baseball history. Rafael Soriano, who notched 45 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, agreed to a three-year, $35 million deal to be…(wait for it)…a set-up man. Not a closer, a set-up man.
And it’s not like Soriano is getting paid closer money because he’s going to take over that role some time soon, because Mariano Rivera is signed through 2012. That means, at best, the Yankees will get one season out of Soriano as the closer before he’s a free agent again.
The deal also means that in 2011 the Yankees will have nine players making $10 million or more. NINE!!!
And as Yahoo! Sports’ David Brown pointed out, that number doesn’t include Andy Pettitte (who may or may not come back and is due to make at least $11 million) or Nick Swisher ($9.1 million), or Curtis Granderson ($8.25 million).
So the Yankees will again likely have a payroll over the $200 million mark even without Pettitte. Meanwhile, in the past two years my beloved San Diego Padres had to trade away All-Stars Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez because the team couldn’t afford their salaries. Have I mentioned how much I hate the Yankees right now?
There is something seriously wrong with sports when money is the only thing that dictates what happens. It creates an uneven playing field for all. Want to know why Cam Newton wasn’t suspended by the SEC after his father clearly violated one of the conference’s own bylaws? Money. The conference didn’t want to miss out on the gigantic paycheck Auburn would bring back from a BCS bowl.
Want to know why Ohio State’s players weren’t suspended for the Sugar Bowl? Money. The NCAA didn’t want to piss off the sponsors who had invested huge amounts of dough into the game.
Why can the Red Sox and Yankees get away with ridiculous spending? Because they get (by far) the most air-time on networks and have the biggest television deals. It’s all money.
We live in a world where during the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression the Boston Red Sox gave $82.5 million over five years to a guy who ended up 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they followed that up by handing out $142 million over seven years to Carl Crawford a few weeks ago. The Crawford deal means that the Red Sox outfield next season will be making at least $41.75 million. For three players. That’s more than the entire 25-man roster of the Padres this past season ($37.8 million). Oh and by the way, in 2010 the Padres finished with 90 wins, the Red Sox had 89.
In that same financial climate, the Yankees handed out $423.5 million in contracts to three players in 2009 when they signed C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.
And now this atrocity.
The thing about the Soriano deal is that the Yankees were essentially bidding against themselves. There was virtually no competition for him. It was a horrible market for closers and they could have easily low-balled him. But that’s just not how the Yankees roll.
The guys in pinstripes needed another ridiculous contract like Diora Baird needs breast implants. It’s ridiculous. But it just goes along with the way things have become in sports. Those with the money make the rules. The rest of us just have to learn to live with it.