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Amidst the Fuss, Yanks Keep the Game Thriving

By Yong-Yi Zhu

SPORTS COLUMNIST

The Yankees are good for baseball.

I may sound a bit sacrilegious living in Boston and tooting the Evil Empire's horn, but hey, I'm no Yankee lover by any stretch of the imagination (I happen to be a National League kind of guy, but that's beside the point). All I know is that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and what's good for the Yankees is good for baseball. In fact, what's good for the Yankees may even be good for the Red Sox (more on that later).

The biggest benefit of having a blockbuster player (A-Rod) dealt to a blockbuster team is that it generates blockbuster media. Just think, did we hear anything about anything else this Sunday in the world of sports? The Yankees managed to overshadow the NBA All-Star game, the Daytona 500, the dethroning of Duke atop the NCAA and the first PGA tour win for John Daly in nine years. It was almost as though this were sweeps weekend and all the different sports tried to cash in with the biggest episodes. But none of them could beat baseball, not even President Bush and Air Force One.

Don’t get me wrong, the rest of baseball may not openly say that they like what the Yankees have done, but did everyone forget about luxury taxes and revenue sharing? I’m sure that the small market teams like the Devil Rays and the Marlins hate the fact that George Steinbrenner must pay them millions more because he now owns A-Rod. No, nobody likes money nowadays. Oh, by the way, the small market teams that have struggled against the Yankees will still struggle, and the ones that don’t still won’t; you can bet on that. (If the Marlins, Angels or Diamondbacks are going to win again, they will win even if the Yankees have nine A-Rods.)

Okay, so some call the A-Rod deal sickening and some call it fantastic, but after all is said and done, the deal was absolute genius. Did anybody have a clue as to what was going on between Texas and New York until late Saturday/Sunday morning? Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman kept everything under the table and under the media’s radar. He, unlike Boston GM Theo Epstein and President Larry Lucchino, could keep his mouth shut. Boston might want to learn a lesson from this and not open its presents before they are wrapped. The Boston public loves big news, but there is a right time to give it: when there’s actually news to be given. What the Yankees did shocked the baseball world because nobody saw it coming until it was too late. Perhaps now, Epstein will learn to go quietly off into the sunset searching for the perfect hitter or pitcher (well, at least the one that’s still available).

That brings us to another point. Now, Epstein will be forced to look for talent instead of just plopping down mega-bucks for it. He will have to use his head, just like Billy Beane in Oakland. Who can he get at a decent price? And who can he get to beat the Yankees? Epstein did well last trade deadline when he brought in Scott Sauerbeck and Scott Williamson, despite the Yankees’ obvious needs for those pitchers. Epstein might just land Eric Chavez next, now that he has the resources, and can even resign Nomar Garciaparra. Boston at least now knows the Yankee lineup: pretty much everyone there is under huge contracts. What can the Red Sox do to counter? I guess that the Yankees just bring out the best in the Red Sox.

In fact, what the Yankees have done is simply taken advantage of the league that they play in. Major League Baseball, unlike many of the other sports, does not limit monopolies. If Steinbrenner can afford a player, what’s wrong with digging into his own pockets a little? After all, the A-Rod deal was a sudden strike of unimaginable proportions; that sounds like the military tactics of George W. Bush and Microsoft. And while Bush and Microsoft were beneficial to the US in some ways, they were also unbeatable. Only time will tell if the Yankees follow in that suit as well.