Now, you can at least say that this deal wasn't a pure money thing. To get Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees have to give up 2B Alfonso Soriano, an incredible talent – who will now shift to Centerfield for the Rangers – and another player to be named later. But let's be serious, without George Steinbrenner's willingness to spend as much as he pleases, this deal would have never been completed. The second biggest spenders in all of baseball couldn't even get the deal to go through – because of the money. So now, the Yankees will field a team that features an All Star at every single position except Second Base, and knowing Steinbrenner, a deal for Jose Vidro could be in the works.
This deal is bad for baseball in so many ways – but the most notable is the ridiculous difference in payroll between the haves and have-nots. Last year, the Yankees were a couple of plays away from winning another World Championship, and what do they do in the offseason? Sign a perennial All Star Outfielder (Gary Sheffield), another former All Star to either DH or man Centerfield (Kenny Lofton), plus traded for Starting Pitchers Javier Vasquez and Kevin Brown (another All Star). And now, the trade for A-Rod. And all of this was made possible by Steinbrenner's ridiculous spending habits. The other 29 major league teams simply cannot compete with these moves.
Now, the argument will be made that the spending hasn't translated into World Championship titles as of late, and this is true. However, one can only point to the Oakland A's so many times before realizing that the perennial division winners are all among the league's elite when it comes to payroll.
The bottom line is, until some form of a legitimate salary cap is implemented, major league baseball will continue to suffer because teams like the Yankees simply use their money to win baseball games. Commissioner Bud Selig has been far too passive ever since the lockout 10 years ago and it is imperative that he make a more dedicated attempt to even out the playing field. For competition across the board to return to major league baseball, Steinbrenner's spending must be stopped. Or if he refuses, force him to buy the Expos and spend millions on them – at least helping bring one small market club out of the depths of minimal income.
There is simply no telling how much more Steinbrenner will spend before someone finally steps up in an attempt to stop him. However, there is just simply no way to argue that it is fair that the Yankees have an entire lineup of All Stars, while probably 8 to 10 teams wouldn't have a single All Star if not for the mandatory inclusion of one member from every team on the squad. But will Selig ever step up to Steinbrenner and stop the madness? It's impossible to know, but unfortunately decisive action would definitely go against Selig's past.
Why the Pudge Bashing?
Shortly after Ivan Rodriguez agreed to a 4-year, $40 million deal with the Tigers, he was roasted by the national media for leaving the world champion Marlins for the lowly Tigers. It was obvious that Rodriguez's decision was based largely on money, while nothing was ever confirmed, it was reported that no other team even came close to the Tigers offer. So, Pudge took the money and will head to a team in midst of a massive rebuilding project. But what's so wrong about taking the money?
Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard was particularly outspoken, tearing apart Pudge for leaving his beloved Marlins for the pathetic Tigers. But what if a representative from the Ann Arbor News contacted Le Batard tomorrow and offered him triple his current salary to come write for the Ann Arbor News? Would he really pass that up? Highly unlikely. What about his loyal readers that he's developed over the years, how can he abandon them? Well, with his extra money, he'll probably be able to not only keep his place in beautiful Miami but purchase a similar property in Ann Arbor. He'll help guarantee a better life for his family down the road. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Rodriguez will finish his Hall-of-Fame career with the Detroit Tigers. With any luck, by the time he's ready to step away, he'll be leaving a team finding itself where it hasn't been in many years, at the top of its division. Rodriguez will leave a wealthy man, having helped bring along a struggling franchise, after having already accomplished everything else in his career. Whine and complain about how he already has enough money, but can you really ever have enough? Michael Jackson is one of the biggest pop sensations of his generation, and rumors are running rampant that he's living off his final pennies. This isn't to say one should shed a tear because a millionaire went broke wasting money on yachts and lavish vacations and whatnot. But at the same time, no one has the right the blame the guy who simply wants to ensure he'll never have to worry about it.