One hundred and thirteen times this season that call has rung out at the end of a ball game, echoing throughout the Bronx and across the CBS-radio network carrying the Yankee games.
The evil empire struck back. They won their 40th pennant, their 27th title and in the process tied or set any number of records as individuals, as a team and in the process set another impossibly high standard for an already high bar of both love, and hate.
There will be 423.5 million reasons for people to say they bought the series and don’t deserve the title because they play on a different playing field. Sure, it is a lot of money. Money, as Yankee fans already well know, does not ensure success, it is only one contributing factor. All those pieces need to perform well as individuals and come together as a team, stay healthy and focused on the task-at-hand. They need the drive and desire as well as the paycheck to succeed and the guidance to get there. In that, they are no different than any other team.
Perhaps money provides them an advantage in other respects then, as it buys top trainers, a fantastic ballpark and the luxuries some teams can only dream about. But, it was available because the Yankees for years have been investing in the team and not just in lining Mr. Steinbrenner and company’s pockets. The Boss wants to win and he does everything in his power as a boss to ensure that happens. That, is the priority. Not to collect a paycheck, but to collect trophies. To make New York fans proud. To give back to the community that support them by always putting together a team deserving of their rabid dedication and never having a fan wearing pinstripes be called fairweather by upholding the tradition of consistency in winning.
So, those big free agents that were bought to win the prize… are they mercenaries? Are they just there for one purpose – #27? Judging by the way their extravagant contracts are structured, the answer is, no. They are long term building blocks to the continued success of the team. These guys were not brought in this year (or any year) to win for that year… they were brought in to ensure the franchise remains the dominant beast that won those 39 previous pennants and those 26 previous titles. This isn’t just about #27 in the money spent, it is about #28, #29, #30 and so on for many of these long contracts:
AJ Burnett – 5 year contact
Johnny Damon – 4 year contact (extension in negotiation)
Damaso Marte – 4 year contact (+ his trade year to the yanks)
Hideki Matsui – 6 year contact (NYY only US team)
Alex Rodriguez – 10 year contract (+1 trade year & 3 remaining on his old contract)
CC Sabathia – 7 year contract
Mark Tiexeria – 8 year contract
Yes, those outside names command a high salary, but, if the Yankees hadn’t paid them those contracts, someone else would have. It just happens the Yankees did. Before A-rod became a Yankee, Texas over-paid for him… and Damon wasn’t exactly cheap when he became a BoSox… nor was Burnett as a Jay. The Yankees just paid what the market was commanding. They were fortunate enough to put them all together into a winning team.
They also lavish their own homegrown with those big contracts encouraging talent to stay and building a team from the inside out rather than allowing them to test the waters of free agency. Sure, they might command more from another team, but they’re rarely interested because they know they’ll be taken care of from within as long as they are getting the job done… several of the core players are home grown investments that will end, or come very close to ending their career in pinstripes. There can be no denying that the best of the best stay with the Yankees, unlike other teams who’s top talent traipses off at the first sign of dollar signs, from teams who do not appreciate having franchise players as much as they claim they cannot afford them. How many teams have as many guys who spent at least a decade with them currently on the roster?
Current decade pinstripers:
Derek Jeter NYY-r 96 (92 draft)
Andy Pettite NYY-r 95 (90 draft)
Jorge Posada NYY-r 95 (90 draft)
Mariano Rivera NYY-r 95
plus there is:
Robinson Cano NYY-r 05 (signed through 11 w/ opt to 13)
And, on that note, there is as much home grown and developed talent as on any team in the majors and several of them performing at the highest level coming through an established farm system designed to help create winners. It is a stunning list of super stars and prospects that make up the actual core of the current Yankees, moreso than that of their cross town rivals the Mets or the arch nemesis BoSox or even the defeated Phils… and several of them are set up to stay with the team for years to come. Just check out some of these key components in this year’s success who are from the Yankee system:
The next generation:
Alfredo Aceves NYY-r 08
Fransisco Cervelli NYY-r 09
Mekly Cabrera NYY-r 05
Joba Chamberlain NYY-r 07 (06 draft)
Phil Coke NYY-r 08 (02 draft)
Bret Gardner NYY-r 09 (06 draft)
Philip Hughes NYY-r 07 (04 draft)
Edwar Ramariez NYY-r 07
David Robertson NYY-r 08 (06 draft)
As well as callups like Ian Kennedy, Shelly Duncan, Juan Miranda and Ramero Pena plus Chin Ming Wang who ended up being injured the majority of the season unfortunately. Who knows what will be offered to this entire group depending on how they contribute in their current contracts – considering the Yankees already refused several times to trade Hughes, Chamberlain, Cabera and Cervelli.
Yeah, there were these pieces of the puzzle too who were pieces of the puzzle this year and probably fall somewhere into the mercenary concept but at a significantly different cost ratio to what most trades and 1-year deals come at teams trying to sample the post-season: Chad Gaudin, Freddy Guzmán, Eric Hinske, Jerry Harriston Jr, Sergio Mitre, Jose Molina, Nick Swisher…. However, when you count up the team as a whole and how all but Molina & Swisher fit into it overall it is easy to see the difference between buying #27 (as compared to some other teams who bought championships) and what the Yankees are really doing.
So, with a little arithmetic, the Yankees fielded 13 regular players during the season and post-season they developed, including 5 with significant investment in the franchise. They bought an additional 9 regulars, of which 7 were under “long term” contracts. The balance of the players were call-ups or guys rotated in-and-out of the 25-man roster for any number of reasons.
The cost of the contracts might seem out-of-sorts but it is not quite the type of build one might expect for a team bought to win a series. They are a collection of big names because the Yankees are a big name, they are a who’s who because roughly as many of core starters are high paid and developed in the system as were purchased on the open market and because roughly double the number of Yankee products took the field as those imported.
The Bankees they might be, but they are still bleeding pinstripes moreso than most teams could hope to instill in a franchise mentality in one, or maybe, two guys a decade. Forget about the core-four that represent the last dynasty bleeding into the next.
Say all you want you want to spread the wealth all you want and share with every city the sanctity of a WS victory. Well, it’s not like flattening out salaries and steamrolling the free agency system really spread the wealth in football (Patriots dynasty) or hockey (Red Wings dynasty), nor has it done anything to reign in lavish contracts (there’s no way to even begin the ridiculous examples), or bring together any type of labor peace (NHL) or ownership responsibility, (Redskins, Raiders, Coyotes). Just earn it. On the terms that every team in every league is earning it on. It took 9 years for the Yankees to do it again. Granted, all but one year in that time, they made the playoffs, even though twice they reached the series again in that stretch, although they lost. Yes, the last decade belongs to the Yankees, as did the previous as well, and with the way the team continues to be built by blending youth and experience, home grown and dedicated free agents the next could be as well. We’ll find out, one game at a time, same as always.
Till then, thank you Phillies for making this a great series and for doing something no NL team has done in well over a decade (look like a mini-dynasty yourselves!)… perhaps we’ll meet again next season but for now… CONGRATS NYY – #27!