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Sports with the Skip     Volume 1, Edition 8  Tues Dec 31st

The "Evil Empire"

We are about to enter a new year, and when one thinks of January 1st, most would think Football, both Bowl Games and NFL Playoff Games.   This week's Sports with the Skip will examine what is becoming just as big a topic this time of year, Hot Stove Baseball.

Now I understand why Baseball implemented a "Luxury Tax".   The tax was meant as a way of generating money for the "small market" baseball teams, as well as hoping to deter the "large market" teams from spending.   Well, it didn't take long, but the Yankees with owner George Steinbrenner are at it again, so much so that it could ruin the game of baseball as we know it today.

The Yankees are now looking at a payroll that is up to an astounding 155 million dollars, which is well over the MLB Luxury Tax threshold of 117 million.  One of the latest signings, Cuban Jose Contreras, went on record as saying that he "always wanted to be a Yankee."   Alot can be said of this.  True, the Yankees are the winningest franchise in Baseball History, yet, in the present day structure of baseball (which most, if not all players would care about), who wouldn't want to play for a team that can pay any player in the World (See Matsui and Contreras) millions and millions more than any other team.   As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I would say the same thing at this point, knowing what I could be rewarded with financially.   

Most fans today believe that baseball players are the most overpaid athletes in all of sports.   When Major League Baseball was prepared to lockout in 2002, it was under the notion to most fans that the owners wanted to curve salary expenditure so as to maintain financial stability to all baseball franchises.   YET, the next offseason, the Yankees and George Steinbrenner up their payroll to the highest ever in sports.   155 million, over a 25 man roster, comes out to 6.2 million dollars per player.   In comparing the 2002 opening day payrolls with this amazing per player number, the 6.2 million dollars per player would have gotten Oakland just under 7 players (40 million total payroll), Montreal 6 players (38.2 million total payroll), and Tampa Bay under 6 players (34.4 million total payroll).   No wonder that 2 out of those 3 teams were not seen in postseason play.....they cannot afford what the Yankees can.

For those Yankee fans that read this, I need to say this.    I am not a jealous Red Sox fan at all.   The Red Sox do spend their share of money as well, and the price per ticket at Fenway Park reflects this.   This is why I make very few trips into Fenway each year, because the inflated payrolls (led by the Yankees) have made a major league baseball ticket cost too much for even me, a diehard sports fan, to want to pay.  The Yankees can afford to pay anyone, and thus Baseball will always have the same teams in the postseason hunt for the most part, because only certain teams can pay the players.   Baseball wanted to try and put a stop to this, and the Yankees just don't care, which is why Baseball will never be the same.