Panic in the Bronx (or, The Soap Opera Continues)Wednesday, April 8, 2009 10:39
One game, that’s all it took for the Yankee faithful (the term is loosely applied here) to hit the big red panic button once again. Or maybe it’s just more over-exposure from their un-official network, ESPN (the same one that offers T.O. coverage far more than his relevance as a player should ever be allowed). And to think, all that money spent on players (okay, three guys) could have been used to pay down the debt on that new stadium in which they play. Oh, the opportunity cost!
Before we shed too many tears for the free-spending and the not-quite deserving, let’s remember that this is a 162-game season and everybody (even Monday’s Yankee-beater, the hapless & poorly-operated franchise that wears the jerseys of the once-proud Orioles) still have hope. Heck, even the Rays could surprise (oh wait, that’s already happened).
I have to understand how extremely valuable TV airtime, radio spectrum, Internet bandwidth, and ‘media pipe’ can be used to scream ‘The Sky is Falling’ after only the first game of a 162 game-season. Is this simply because the mega-paid (some would say ‘over paid’) players didn’t live up to the hype & salary? It was inevitable.
CC Sabathia is a good pitcher, and in the skewed economics of Major League Baseball, he’s worth $17MM+ per season. Unfortunately for the MLB, it usually takes a pitcher anywhere between 4-6 good seasons of starting (and maybe a season of spot relief, unless he happens to be Mark Prior) before he scores his payday. This also happens to be when he’s logged 750+ innings and his body starts to lose some of its recuperative abilities (especially since they now TEST for certain things). What this means is that the big checks sometimes don’t arrive when the big performances do. The proof of this, to some extent, is Johan Santana (who also happens to have stepped up to the deep, wide trough of money that flows, or at least used to flow, out of New York teams).
We here on the Frozen Tundra loved watching our hot young pitcher win 2 Cy Young awards, dominate with an unhittable change-up, and help bring us from the brink of contraction back to contention. Santana began his tenure in Minnesota as a spot reliever, and, partly based on need, was pressed into the starter’s role. He benefitted from two things: playing with retired Twin pitcher Brad Radke, who was not an overpowering pitcher but in his best years had command of a very good change-up; and playing for Tom Kelly (TK), who had the luxury of being the only manager to bring a World Series title to Minnesota, thus having plenty of rope to develop players with no fear of ever being fired (TK’s record from 1994 through 2000, in any other city, would have earned him an exit).
It wasn’t until Johan received the big money out East that he started to experience physical issues. Not coincidental–this is what happens after throwing 200+ regular season (and playoff) innings per season. And now Sabathia is in the very same boat, floating out in the Hudson, no less.
So the teams who have bottomless revenue streams (namely those based in NYC) can continue to spend big money for pitching talent. The Red Sox just might have done it smarter more recently by going after younger top guns like (former Marlin and Yankee-killer) Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, which probably has something to do with their two recent World Series titles. But then New York, in regards to baseball and so many other things, sees the rest of the country as its ‘talent pool’ and feels the right (economic or whatever) to cherry-pick from it. When things come by way of purchase (rather than by hard work or through development), they just are not appreciated as much.
Hence the panic.
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