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November 5, 2009

Prospectus Today

The Crown Rests Lightly

by Joe Sheehan

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What was perhaps most interesting about last night's Game Six was the feel in the Yankee Stadium in the late innings. In Philadelphia Monday night, the Phillies took a 6-1 lead in the third, pushed it to 8-2 in the seventh, but when it was cut to four, you could feel the tension. You could sense the fear in the ballpark. With an incredibly unreliable closer, and a shaky bullpen in front of him, Phillies fans sweated the final outs of what would be their team's last win of the season. They never got comfortable, never got to treat the game like a party. It was nail-biting time until a few seconds after the final out.

In the Bronx, it was completely different. A 2-0 lead became 4-1, then 7-1, and even after a Ryan Howard homer cut the game to 7-3, there was an air of inevitability to the process. There was no fear, no worry, no sense of impending doom. Even with two runners on and two outs in the seventh, the ballpark never felt the way Citizens Bank Park had 48 hours prior. That, as much as anything else, is the difference between Mariano Rivera and anyone else. Every fan, every media member and nearly every player in that ballpark knew how the game was going to end once the Yankees pushed their lead to 4-1 in the third: with #42 on the mound, 50,000 people out of their minds, and a very happy dog pile.

They won! My god, they won and I'm here for it! This place is crazy, the upper deck is shaking… and oh my God, they won! The Yankees are the champs! The Yankees are the champs! Mariano!!! Hideki!!!! A-Rod!!! This is amazing! Number 27, baby! The first one in The House That George Built! Don't clap! Don'tclapdon'tclapdon'tclapdon'tclap! [one small clap]

The Yankees' win was as workmanlike as a May victory over the Indians might be. Andy Pettitte worked quickly through his first six outs on 24 pitches, getting a double play out of Chase Utley-it was very tense in the park during that at-bat-along the way. In the bottom of the second, Hideki Matsui hit an 89 mph fastball into the right-field second deck that lit up the building, his first of three big hits on the night that would, in the end, make him the World Series MVP.

Martinez never looked as good as he did in Game Two. He didn't crack 85 mph in the first inning, and he didn't get above 90 mph in the game. What had made Martinez so effective in his two postseason starts was the constant change of speeds along a range from the mid-70s through the low-90s. He didn't have that top-end velocity last night, maxing out with three pitches at exactly 90 mph, so he didn't have the Yankee hitters as off-balance as they'd been in Game Two. This was obvious from the very start, and if there was a point where Charlie Manuel might have been able to save the game, it came in the third inning, when Martinez loaded the bases with one out. He managed to strike out Alex Rodriguez, but that moment-a 2-1 game, bases loaded, two outs, a struggling pitcher unable to break 90-called for reinforcements. Manuel had J.A. Happ up in the bullpen, and some deft stalling might have provided him enough time to make a change that seemed necessary. He elected to leave Martinez in, and when Matsui hit a 0-2 fastball that wasn't as high and away as it should have been into center field, the World Series was essentially over.

I'm standing on the field. I'm standing on the infield! I'm standing at second base at Yankee Stadium!!! I had this dream once, I think it was from 1977 to 1986. I feel light-headed. I should take some grass. No, take some pictures! No, get someone to take a picture of you! I have to take the credential off! Don't take the credential off! God, I must look like amateur hour. Who's that guy hugging his dad?

Nick Swisher, who was benched the last time the Yankees faced Martinez, was back in the lineup last night. Swisher had been to the postseason in 2006 and 2008 and had had exactly one good series in six shots with the A's and White Sox, bounced back from a Game Two benching to have two big hits in Game Three's comeback win in Philadelphia, the game that swung the series to the Yankees. Last night, decked out in World Series gear and carrying a banner, that night off seemed like it was a million miles away.

"This is a dream come true," Swisher said after a long hug on the infield with his father and some pictures with his family. "I could not be more honored."

Rodriguez didn't have a big game, just a pedestrian single and two walks, coming home twice on Matsui knocks. Perhaps no player gets as much from the championship as does Rodriguez, who presumably sheds any number of labels that have been unfairly slapped on him. Rodriguez didn't just go along for the ride; he was a devastating force in the Yankees' 15-game run, their best player during the postseason, who combined overall performance with the kind of signature moments that will be central to his career highlight reel. Rodriguez has rarely engendered sympathy, but his role in bringing a championship to the Yankees changes the narrative around him, and should, if nothing else, cut off one line of criticism forever.

The stadium looks so very big from down here. The lights are incredibly bright. How can you play like this? How do these guys do it? It feels like the fences are a million miles away, but I can hit a sand wedge into the bleachers. OK, a pitching wedge. Who are… oh, the wives and girlfriends. They're so excited! One of them just asked another, "Is this your first?" I guess that's a club, too, maybe with even bigger rings. Am I shaking? I'm never going to be able to read my notes. I'm standing on the field at Yankee Stadium after the Yankees have won the World Series!!!!

Any losing team in the World Series becomes something of an afterthought, but the Phillies deserve a bit more than that. They went 9-6 this year on the heels of 11-3 last year, a 20-9 run over two seasons that stands with any team's two-year performance in the decade. It's a testament to the talent assembled, first by Mike Arbuckle, then Pat Gillick, and now Ruben Amaro Jr., that a six-game loss to the best team in the baseball in the World Series can leave a bit of a bad taste in their mouths. The Phillies' talent base is such that a stretch like this doesn't necessarily have to be a peak. With one of the best cores in baseball, a reasonable payroll and some top-tier prospects set to make their debuts in the next two seasons, the Phillies have some chance to become a perennial playoff team along the lines of the Braves of the 1990s.

On November 4, 2009, though, they had to watch as a different team ended their season, as they had a year ago, celebrating a title in front of their hometown fans. The Yankees are the World Champions.

The Yankees are the World Champions!!!!

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  The Who

96 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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buffum
(458)

I was kind of hoping it was more like an April 18th game against the Indians (I would have settled for April 16th: note the pitcher), but congratulations to the Yankees, and I'm happy for their fans (like you, Joe).

Nov 05, 2009 09:12 AM
rating: -1
 
redsfan1470

Cue the complaints that the Yankees are unstoppable because they spend money, conveniently ignoring the fact that this is their first WS title since 2000.

As much as I dislike the Yankees, I appreciate this at least a little because it's going to make A-Rod critics seem that much sillier in the future: "But he only had 1 hit in the clinching game - THAT is when it REALLY counts!"

Nov 05, 2009 09:26 AM
rating: -1
 
ccmonter

2000 is not that long ago. For me, 1992/1993 is a long time ago. Then again, I'm not a Cubs fan so I can't complain.

Nov 05, 2009 13:16 PM
rating: 0
 
Peter Benedict

I love the style you chose here: The voice of the analyst with the voice of the fan, both reaching the same celebration. I loathe the Yankees, but your piece was still a great read, likely to be my favorite of the post-season. Thanks.

Nov 05, 2009 09:29 AM
rating: 6
 
One Flap Down

I enjoyed the style, too - although in my head, I couldn't help but hear the italicized portions in that "other voice" that Jim Gaffigan uses.

Nov 05, 2009 09:36 AM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Is he still talking about bacon?

Nov 05, 2009 09:39 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I liked that style too. I used it once, in fact, for a short story.. though the italicized parts was what the lead character was writing in a suicide note.

Nov 05, 2009 10:39 AM
rating: -3
 
doncoffin
(422)

As my brother emailed me earlier today:

First World Series in the old Yankee Stadium (opened 1923):
Yankees win Series. In 6 games. Lost Game 1 at home. Game 6 is won by a veteran left-hander (Pennock).

First World Series in the new Yankee Stadium (opened 2009):
Yankees win Series. In 6 games. Lost game 1 at home. Game 6 is won by a veteran left-hander (Pettitte).

Cue eerie music.

Nov 05, 2009 09:39 AM
rating: 0
 
mglick0718

Let's not forget 1976, the first year of an essentially new Yankee Stadium. Made the Series that year, but would have to wait one more year for the 6-game WS victory.

Nov 05, 2009 13:04 PM
rating: 0
 
Lou Doench

I believe a certain team from the midwest somewhere was responsible for that butt kicking... had a nifty nickname... mmm.. it was sooooo long ago, oh yeah, THE BIG RED MACHINE!!!

Nov 06, 2009 07:10 AM
rating: -1
 
awayish

good article again. with the yankees, people tend to focus on the financial side, or talk about the organization's numerous advantages. all of these are valid concerns, but lost in this is the genuine talent and gameplay of the players. at least for one day, i think we should appreciate the baseball that was played before getting back to flaming.

Nov 05, 2009 09:49 AM
rating: 1
 
awayish

i mean, looking at the financial system of the game, the importance of a smart front office, and the questionable choices of certain owners, how much passion can there be in mere team loyalties except childhood attachment? root for baseball on the field, root for the game. teams are pretty hollow when you take a deeper look.

of course, rooting for sports teams is like casual nationalism and tribalism, but unlike nationalism, it is harmless and fun.

Nov 05, 2009 10:05 AM
rating: 0
 
kings71

"Cue the complaints that the Yankees are unstoppable because they spend money, conveniently ignoring the fact that this is their first WS title since 2000."

indeed. since when is failing to capitalize on an enormous financial advantage from 2000 to 2008 a reason to consider 2009 some sort of unexpected and/or amazing achievment? We're supposed to congratulate the franchise for getting out of their own way by buying CC Sabthia instead of buying another Carl Pavano? Please.

Nov 05, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 3
 
mattoves

Pretty much exactly it. Congratulations on your rented, mercenary championship, Yankee fans. Of course, if they hadn't won this year then they would have just gone out and bought John Lackey and Matt Holliday. And if that didn't work, then they'd add Halladay and go over the top on Mauer. Heck, they still might.

Having a dominant team with a payroll that's within striking distance of the other teams like the 90s Yankees is one thing. Having a dominant team only because you can out and outbid every other team on the best two or three free agents every year is bad for baseball.

Nov 05, 2009 10:29 AM
rating: 0
 
fgreenagel2

Who were the "2 or 3 best free agents" they bought in 2005? 06? 07?

Nov 05, 2009 10:56 AM
rating: -1
 
akachazz

JoPo had a good post on this today, how MLB doesn't try to stop George from buying the best team in the game, but instead tries to short-circuit the best team's path to victory by adding an extra playoff round.

I don't know though... I guess it's amazing and wonderful and feel-good that an all-star team beat a normal team to win the World Series.

Nov 05, 2009 11:34 AM
rating: -2
 
Mike Kastellec

http://www.getlisty.com/preview/2009-mlb-team-payrolls/

Yankees payroll was $88 million higher than the Phillies at the start of the 2009 season. Phillies was $77 million higher than the cheapest team, the Marlins. Why is Yanks>Phillies=a heinous crime while Phillies>Marlins="a normal team"?

Nov 05, 2009 12:16 PM
rating: 1
 
mattoves

Because the Marlins don't count since their owner deliberately guts the payroll in order to maximize his revenues. According to Forbes, Loria average something like a $50M profit every year. They could afford much more, they just would rather be terrible.

Here's a better example to see why people think it's a "heinous crime." The Yankees have a payroll so high, the next highest payroll is $52M less than them. Want to know how many teams are within $52M of the Phillies? 19. Only 4 teams fall below that threshold for the Phillies compared to 29 teams for the Yankees.

Nov 06, 2009 09:25 AM
rating: 1
 
Joe D.

Certainly, then, the Phillies fans would have been ashamed to win, then. After all, that's four teams the Phillies are letting have no shot whatsoever, right? That's just wrong.
Congrats to the Phillies on buying their National League Peannant, lol.

Nov 06, 2009 13:17 PM
rating: -3
 
Rob_in_CT

I agree with one thing you said: the 90s Yankees teams were more impressive.

Then again, the divisional competition for those 90s Yankees clubs wasn't (IMO) the same as it is now. The Red Sox are a real force now. The Rays have gotten really good, finally. Toronto would be a real contender in many divisions. The Os, well they have been bad.

I know this won't make it all ok for a Yankee hater, but the Yanks and Sox are in a massive arms race. If the Yankees stumble but a little, the Sox overtake them (and now the Rays can too). The Yankees missed the playoffs last year, so I guess they can't always buy a playoff appearance, can they?

That said, there is quite a bit of truth to what you say. And just as soon as I see a comprehensive restructuring plan that makes sense and is really fair (as opposed to a "screw the Yankees" plan, which is not the same thing), I'm in. Either way, I'll root for my team.

Nov 05, 2009 12:43 PM
rating: 1
 
Dave Glass

I liked the article, especially the feel of being on the field afterward from a writer/fan perspective...but I think it's disingenuous to list Gillick and Amaro and NOT list Ed Wade. I'm no fan of Wade, but he was the GM from 1998-2005 and DID play a part in assembling this team. Assigning much of the credit to Arbuckle may be warranted, but Wade also has to be mentioned.

Nov 05, 2009 09:57 AM
rating: 2
 
SoxOsPhils

Agree, also credit to Ed Wade for not trading Utley, Howard, and other young rising stars when they were blocked by players like Polanco and Thome.

Nov 05, 2009 11:11 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Except that Wade had a proposed Howard for Kip Wells deal, so it's not like he didn't try...

Nov 05, 2009 11:40 AM
 
SoxOsPhils

I was not aware of that. Any insight into why that deal fell through? Not that I am complaining as a Phillies fan.

Nov 05, 2009 15:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

And Wade took forever to promote Utley and Howard.

Nov 05, 2009 18:25 PM
rating: -1
 
dom

Your article struck the perfect celebratory note for this Yankee fan. The unsung hero for me was Damaso Marte. His contributions this post season reminded me of the contributions Graeme Lloyd made in the 96 post season. Like Marte, not much was expected of Lloyd, but he shut down the big lefthanded bats he faced. Now I don't feel so bad about the Nady Pittsburgh trade, no matter how Tabata ultimately turns out.

Nov 05, 2009 10:02 AM
rating: 3
 
bobgale

Thanks for the fabulous coverage and insight throughout the entire post-season! I loved it.

It was interesting to feel the difference that a competent and focused umpiring crew meant over the last few games, as opposed to those prior. But it did become clear that at least some additional use of replay is necessary going forward.

Nov 05, 2009 10:07 AM
rating: 1
 
BartPachino

You "cued" the complaints -- here goes.

Last night, here in LA, I had a friend visit our home during the game who is a long-time Yankee fan. Fortunately, I have brainwashed my kids into hating the Yankees (I am a long time Orioles fan) and he was a little surprised at our vehement hatred of "his" team.

Graciously, my 12 and 16 year olds explained to him that while Jeter and Rivera were great players (and CC for that matter) and had nothing negative to say about them, the rest were "creeps".

Then, my wife asked me why do so many people dislike the Yankees.

Here is what I told her --

"Hon, if at next year's 11-12 year old Little League draft, I got the first five picks in the draft before any other coach got a pick, how do you think the coaches, parents and even kids on the other teams would feel about our team?"

Isn't that the point, Commissioner Selig?

$435 million to 3 guys in the space of 10 days last winter -- isn't that the "first five picks in the Little League draft"?

The lack of a real outcry is as sad as the inevitability of the Yankees' winning last night.

Nov 05, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 0
 
awayish

problem is, unless the league is run like a commune (bad idea), a salary cap isn't a fair solution. the unfairness there is between owners and players, a far more serious issue than a level playing field for franchises.

Nov 05, 2009 10:45 AM
rating: 0
 
JParks
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Unfairness? The players are getting paid a bundle to play a kid's game. You have got to be kidding me. Maybe 50 years ago you have a case, but not now. Who cares about billionaires vs millionaires? Both players and owners are so far up into the economic stratosphere that to hear talk of unfairness is just laughable.

Nov 05, 2009 10:57 AM
rating: -9
 
thecoolerking
(845)

Well, if you're gainfully employed in the United States, you probably make a multiple of the average worker in most developing nations, so by your argument, any bargaining effort you make with your boss is laughable, because to some textile worker in India, you and your boss are millionaires and billionaires. It may be a kids game, but there's a ton of money in it, and players may make a lot, but owners make a lot more.

Nov 05, 2009 11:16 AM
rating: 11
 
KevinS
(961)

Salary cap isn't a fair solution? We are talking about a game. Having all teams playing under the same rules would be ideal. Kind of like how the game of Monopoly instructs all players to start with the same amount from the bank.

I do not know a fair and equitable solution to get to a salary cap. But, I would think the goal would be for teams to win/lose on their skills in selecting, developing talent rather than who can write the biggest checks.

KC splurges on a f/a bust- they are done for a few years. NYY can miss on 4 or 5 EVERY year and not miss a beat.

Talk of how a salary cap would screw the players is ridiculous. Simply negotiate a fixed percentage of the revenue to the players. If revenue tanks- players share the cost, if it grows- they share in the growth.

Nov 06, 2009 20:20 PM
rating: -1
 
drawbb

"Simply negotiate a fixed percentage of the revenue to the players. If revenue tanks - players share the cost, if it grows - they share in the growth."

You must be living in a dreamworld. Yeah, because there is NO incentive in that system for ownership to lie about and hide revenues from the players...which, you know, won't cause labor discord or anything like that. How could the union possibly get screwed? I mean, it's not like these things are already happening without a cap in MLB or in other leagues with a cap...

Say hi to Bud, Bob Costas, and the rest of the Flat Earth Society for me.

Nov 08, 2009 09:43 AM
rating: 0
 
KevinS
(961)

drawbb,

It sounds like your goal is not fixing any economic issues in baseball.

It appears that your priority is simply to keep every last dime out of those "evil owners" pockets. Wow- that is a noble goal. (insert sarcasm emoticon).

My "dreamworld" is better than your jealousy-world.


Nov 08, 2009 14:20 PM
rating: 0
 
drawbb

I'd love to fix the economic issues in baseball. Somewhere I'm sure there is a set of changes that could level the playing field somewhat and still allow room for most ownership groups to make a healthy profit.

What I do know for certain is that a salary cap isn't the answer. The NBA, NFL, NHL and--yes--NCAA are living proof.

Nov 08, 2009 21:10 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt

If we broke up all the teams and drafted players, do you think those three get picked in the top five? I didn't think so.

Nov 05, 2009 11:51 AM
rating: -3
 
Noel Steere
(965)

So you're comparing adults who can do things in their chosen profession that less than 1,000 other people in the entire world can do to children? That's very telling.

Nov 05, 2009 19:48 PM
rating: 0
 
Justice
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Well, the $205 million dollar payroll -- $65 million more than the next highest team payroll -- has finally paid off for the Yankee$. One question: if the Yankees had a $400 million dollar payroll, would MLB have awarded them 2 championships this year?

Nov 05, 2009 10:25 AM
rating: -8
 
KevinS
(961)

It is funny (or is it sad) how many here will mark a post a negative if it disagrees with Joe's opinion or the consensus.

Nov 06, 2009 20:38 PM
rating: 1
 
kqubesx

Manuel really blew it by not getting Happ in to face Matsui. The guy has hit homers off him in consecutive at-bats and Pedro was clearly not on the top of his game. Furthermore, even if he gets Matsui out, Pedro only going for another inning or two. It's not like your wasting your bullpen or that you have anything to save it for anyhow.

And if I'm not mistaken, Happ was already warming at that point. If you wanted to stall the game for the minutes he needed to get fully warm you could have. A la the yanks earlier this postseason: send out the pitching coach, throw over to first three times in a row, have the catcher come out and then have Manuel come out. "He didn't have enough time to get warm," cannot be an excuse there.

Nov 05, 2009 10:35 AM
rating: 4
 
kmbart

Happ DID come in to face Matsui in the very next AB, and Hideki blasted a 2-run double off the wall in deep RC, so that strategy wasn't guaranteed to pay off. Personally, I'd have made the move to Happ, but that's not Charlie Manuel's style. The most critical play in the game wasn't pitching to Matsui, it was the bad read on Jeter's eminently catchable single by Victorino. And The Captain also caught a break when Francisco flubbed his liner in the 5th, leading up to Matsui's double.

Nov 05, 2009 11:25 AM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Btw, was I the only one to notice empty seats behind home plate, especially innings 6 through 9?

Nov 05, 2009 10:41 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

There are empty seats throughout the park. My sense in the Legends seats is that it's the availability of a better option--the indoor cafeteria--for watching the game when it's pretty cold. (I make no comment about the fandom of people sitting there, or that choice.)

In the rest of the park, it's about having more places to go. The HOK concourses encourage walking around, because you can track the game from almost anywhere.

It took me a while to get used to, but I think the empty seats we see are a side effect of the design of these ballparks.

Nov 06, 2009 09:50 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I shouldn't talk much. I smoke cigarettes so I usually watch innings 1-4, go to the smoking section and chat around for an inning or two, then head back.

Nov 07, 2009 14:28 PM
rating: -1
 
Rick Baumhauer

Congrats to the Yankees on finally taking full advantage of their massive financial leg up on the rest of baseball. There are plenty of classy players in the organization (Jeter, Mo, Damon, Posada, CC), and I don't begrudge them the success.

However, I'd feel a lot less antagonism toward the organization if it had produced ONE player in the last decade that made any difference at all this post season. Cano is forever on the cusp, Melky is decent, Joba and Hughes show signs of maybe becoming something significant in the future, Gardner still can't hit enough. All of the significant contributors in the post season were big-dollar free agent signings or trades (some of which no other team could have afforded), or products of the last era of organizational talent (Jeter, Posada, Mo, Pettitte).

In an era where there is general agreement that there is a "right" way to put together a successful MLB team (mix young organizational talent with the right blend of veterans), it's irritating to watch the Yankees manage to get out of their own way enough to put the lie to it. It's also supremely irritating to watch a fan base that feels like a 6-year absence from the WS is a "drought", like they're owed a certain percentage of championships as a birthright.

Nov 05, 2009 10:51 AM
rating: 1
 
joepetrizzi

Why focus on the postseason only? The newer homegrown talent like Cano, Cabrera, Hughes, Chamberlain, and Gardner are a significant reason why the Yankees won 103 games and had home field advantage in the AL playoffs, and also helped the Yankees build up enough of a lead so they were able to rest their starting pitching down the stretch.

They were and are a big reason why the Yankees won the title.

Don't forget that the Yankees had more homegrown talent on their roster than the Phillies in the world series - this is the way it goes for many contenders, they often trade upper tier minor leaguers for the final pieces during a championship run.

Nov 05, 2009 11:17 AM
rating: 1
 
Rick Baumhauer
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Cano was not that major a contributor (another year when he was predicted to become a monster, but was simply good rather than disappointing), Gardner was supposed to be the starting CF but couldn't hit enough to keep the job, Melky may finally be turning the corner but was not a huge contributor, Joba was a mess for most of the year and wasn't considered a good enough starter for the Yankees to use him in the role in the playoffs. Hughes did stabilize the bullpen, but only for 1/2 the year, and was a non-factor in the playoffs.

The Yankees may have had more homegrown talent on the roster than the Phillies, but the starting lineups don't compare - Philly has recent homegrown talent starting at C, 1B, 2B, SS, and (arguably) CF. Yankees have C, 2B, SS, and CF, but half of those are 90s guys, and none of the recent guys are huge contributors.

The Yankees are in no way representative of a team that "traded upper-tier minor leaguers for the final pieces". They always have strong teams on paper, but baseball is unpredictable enough to ensure they don't win every year. They threw a fortune at the two top free agents (and another of the top 10) this year, and it worked out, but they are the only team in baseball that operates this way, and are the only team that can afford to.

Nov 05, 2009 11:40 AM
rating: -7
 
joepetrizzi

Cano was the 3rd best 2B in baseball in 2009. You can actually look it up: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=69933

I'd call a 50 VORP a "major contribution."


Nov 05, 2009 11:57 AM
rating: 12
 
kmbart

The Yankees had 10 home-grown, while the Phillies had 9. The Yankees also had 10 free-agents, while again, the Phillies had 9. The remainder represent what the front-office was able to leverage from their farm system's bounty by trade (or Rule 5 in Victorino's case).

A more telling indicator would be the percentage of ABs and IPs racked up by those home-grown players. I don't have those numbers handy, but since none of the Yankees starting pitchers (Pettitte is a free-agent signing) are home-grown, I'd have to think that an unbiased observer would say that the Phillies put considerably more of their organizational talent out there on a daily basis than the Yankees.

That said, the Yankees have deep pocket competition from the BoSox, the Phillies don't have to split a fan base in their geography (which is the 4th largest in the U.S.), and the amount of freely-available AND enormously-expensive talent is finite, so you still have to do the job right. This year at least, the Yankees did that. This Phillies' season ticket holder's tips his cap to them.

Nov 05, 2009 11:54 AM
rating: 2
 
joepetrizzi

So run the data and find out then, because from a 10,000 foot level it seems pretty even to me. The main difference is the offensive stars of the Phillies (Utley, Howard) are homegrown so it looks like Philadelphia isn't a bunch of mercenaries. I doubt that's true, especially considering the pitching staffs.

Philly's #1 (Lee) and #2 (Pedro) are mercs just like New York. Philly's bullpen got innings from Happ and Madson but that's it, the rest are mercs. New York got their innings from Rivera, Hughes, Chamberlain, Coke, and Robertson - all organizational products. Marte is the lone wolf.

Also, I think for this discussion Andy Pettite does not count as a free agent. He's not on his first contract but he's a product of the Yankees farm system who has spent the majority of his career playing for New York. Technicalities aside, I think the analysis is who has more "bought" players contributing to the team and Pettite doesn't seem like a merc for that purpose.

Nov 05, 2009 12:16 PM
rating: 0
 
JParks

They traded for Lee. Did not just go out and write a check as Yanks did for A-Rod, Sabathia, Texiera, Damon. Would not be shocked to see the Yanks try to sign Lee (and succeed) after next year. That's the difference.

Nov 06, 2009 08:10 AM
rating: -1
 
mglick0718

It's a little disingenuous to categorize Posada/Jeter/Pettite/Rivera as "home grown". Yes, they're all Yankee farm products, but almost every other team would have had to make a choice which ones to keep a long time ago. Keeping them all isn't significantly different than their ability to sign top-tier free agents.

Nov 05, 2009 13:16 PM
rating: 4
 
thecoolerking
(845)

So in other words, the contribution of young players throughout the season to get them to the playoffs isn't important, but what they accomplished in a 15 game sample is important? By that argument, subtract Teixeira's contract, because he was awful in the postseason. Maybe take off half the value of the Burnett contract as well?

Nov 05, 2009 11:26 AM
rating: 3
 
Duranimal

I'm always amazed about how Yankee fans can get so excited about winning the WS. The payroll advantage is the equivalent of a college hoops team getting a free pass to the Final 4 each year. No, getting the pass doesn't ensure victory, but it's pretty close.



Nov 05, 2009 10:55 AM
rating: 1
 
joepetrizzi

It's because the fans know that the payroll advantage is generated by the fans. The Yankees aren't the richest team in baseball by chance, they are the richest team in baseball because they have the largest and richest fan base. People take pride in that and rightfully get excited when the emotional and financial commitment pays off.

Nov 05, 2009 11:22 AM
rating: 2
 
mglick0718

right, which is completely independent of their location in the largest metropolitan area in the country, which also facilitates their massive local TV contract.

Nov 05, 2009 13:19 PM
rating: 4
 
tbwhite
(361)

Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the US to win the Summer Olympics. I don't blame anyone for doing it, but when the inevitable happens it bothers me tremendously when the fans conveniently forget all of the advantages their side enjoyed.

Sure, the US wins more medals than Austria, Italy and Turkey, but that has absolutely nothing to do with American athletes being better or trying harder. It's our competitive advantages, we have more people and more money so we send many more athletes to the games and have more chances to win medals.

Getting excited because the Yankees won the World Series is just silly, they are playing a different game from everyone else. It's that simple. No other team, in any sport, can go out in one season and sign the 3 best free agents available. Until MLB remedies this, it is a joke. For the past 10 years MLB has been lucky that the Yankees incompetence has obscured their advantages. My fear is that the Yankees will probably have to practically destroy baseball before it wakes up and saves itself.

Nov 05, 2009 14:02 PM
rating: 4
 
joepetrizzi

Perhaps, but based on the significant improvement in TV numbers for this year's World Series vs. last year, MLB is probably quite interested in keeping the playing field the same as it is.

Like 'em or hate 'em, the Yankees are good for business. Everything else is sour grapes.

Nov 05, 2009 14:26 PM
rating: -1
 
kradec
(175)

For the record? I really resent being told I shouldn't be excited that my favorite team won the World Series.

Just sayin'.

Nov 05, 2009 14:55 PM
rating: 3
 
tbwhite
(361)

Let's say the NFL changes their rules and says they will actually incorporate Vegas lines into the games, and you are a Detroit Lions fan. The Lions are an 18 point underdog on the road at New England, as expected they get outplayed, but given their 18 point head start they hang on to win the game 28-27. As a Lions fan, how thrilled would you be with that big win ? Who in their right mind would carry on about it or be excited by it ? The 18 point head start renders it meaningless.

The Yankees advantage vs the rest of baseball is no different, just less obvious. I actually want to feel bad for Yankees fans in a way, their tremendous advantage robs them of much the joy that one would normally experience when your team wins a championship, and when they don't win it all the failure is just exaggerated by their advantages. However, so many of their fans are so clueless and ignorant about their advantages and arrogant about their "excellence" that it's hard not to hate them.

Nov 06, 2009 12:10 PM
rating: 1
 
KevinS
(961)

Sure, you can be excited for the NYY.

But, it has to be hollow.

Like my kids varsity team scrimmaging the jv team, winning and then bragging about it. LOL.

The advantage is such that the Yanks can be considered chokers each year they do not win.

Nov 06, 2009 20:26 PM
rating: -1
 
joepetrizzi

Yes, you are making my point. New York is not the largest metropolitan area in the country by accident, either. People from New York are probably proud to be from New York, and the advantages that come with being the largest city in the US. This is because they are the reason NY is the largest, and it is a choice they make willingly and it is open to everyone in the US. You could move to NY tomorrow if you wanted to.

The people get excited about NY being successful because they make NY the city that it is.

Nov 05, 2009 14:35 PM
rating: 0
 
SoxOsPhils

Good win by the Yankees, they deserved to win.

Do you think if the Phillies reload or fix the bullpen that is enough to bridge the gap with the Yankees? Or should they take another step to improve the lineup as well by replacing Pedro Feliz with an improved right-handed bat at 3B?

Any other thoughts on what they should do?

Nov 05, 2009 11:15 AM
rating: 0
 
bozarowski

Well maybe if they didn't have the most overrated player in baseball at First Base... Right, Joe?

In all seriousness, I think they really need another starting pitcher. Bullpens are extremely random and the Phillies have the resources to grab a few of the guys who are non-tendered a month from now and see what they can come up with to fill those roles. Behind Lee, the rotation really wasn't that strong. Happ is a nice piece but is likely a future 3-4 sort of starter. Blanton does not exactly inspire confidence. You can't count on Moyer or Martinez (if he's resigned) next year. And who knows which Cole Hamels shows up next year, the '08 monster or the supposedly unmotivated show-up-to-spring-training-fat-and-out-of-shape '09 model. If I'm the Phillies I throw my resources at John Lackey...

Nov 05, 2009 11:28 AM
rating: 1
 
bozarowski

My favorite quirky numbers from last night's game. Game 6 occurred on November 4th - 11/4. The win made the Yankees 11-4 in the postseason. It was also the Yankees 114th total win of the season. Propitious...

Nov 05, 2009 11:23 AM
rating: 1
 
Ted Smith

The worst thing about the Yankees winning is that it's just not all that interesting. This year, for the first time in my life, I actually lost interest in baseball before the World Series was over. Watching the Yankees win yet another World Series was about as impressive as watching a sprinter with a 10 meter head start win a 100 meter race, and as compelling as watching Wal-Mart open a new store. As a baseball addict, I could admire the individual performances (Matsui, Lee, Utley, Rivera) but it was hard to generate any feeling one way of the other about the final outcome.

And has there ever been a six-game series with less real drama than this one?

Baseball is the most beautiful and fascinating team game ever invented. But the business/sport that is MLB is seriously broken, which is why leagues with vastly inferior products (see NFL, NBA) continually clean their clocks in terms of popularity, revenues, and fan interest.

Nov 05, 2009 11:32 AM
rating: -1
 
Mike Kastellec

See, I say the MLB "product," at least on TV, is far inferior. The pace of the game is just too damn slow. I'm not talking about there not being runs scored every minute or even exciting plays every inning, I just mean during dead ball times: between pitches, at bats and innings.

I love baseball but that's as much from following it in print as it is from watching games on TV.

Nov 05, 2009 12:25 PM
rating: 0
 
kradec
(175)

Most of the baseball-watching public disagrees with you, since this postseason has generated far greater ratings than in recent Yankee-reduced years....

Nov 05, 2009 12:54 PM
rating: 0
 
drawbb

That's primarily an issue of volume due to the massive size of the two markets involved, and the MSM's incessant cacophony of round-the-clock coverage of all things Yankee. Contrast that with last year's MSM narrative "oh, nobody will be interested in these two teams" that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The relationship between viewership, public interest, media coverage, and ad dollars is far more complicated than simple TV ratings could ever illustrate. TV ratings without context are like unadjusted player statistics.

Nov 05, 2009 13:03 PM
rating: 1
 
jballen4eva

SoxOsPhils - "Post Reply" doesn't work on my computer, so here goes: the Phils need a better bench, especially a decent right-handed bat who can play 1B and left field. A utility infielder who can hit would also really help, as injuries could start to be more of an issue for the Phillies in 2010. And a manager who's willing to bench players or shuffle the lineup a bit would help. Rollins shouldn't be hitting leadoff when his OBP is below the Kingman line.

The bullpen needs to improve, but I think the holes in the Phillies' offense have been overlooked for too long.

Nov 05, 2009 11:36 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt

With all the hubbub about the Yankees payroll, what amazes me the most is how effective all their players are this late in their careers. I would be surprised if they ever get the same ROI in the upcoming years. I tip my hat to them for staying at the top of their game.

Nov 05, 2009 12:03 PM
rating: 6
 
Lou Doench

That's a very good point. The Yanks medical staff and coaches work wonders with guys like Damon and Matsui to get the best out of them. If Damon played for my beloved Redlegs, he'd have been on the DL for most of the year.

Nov 06, 2009 07:17 AM
rating: 0
 
Eugene

Are the rants everyone keeps going on about payroll and the Yankees really objections to actual payroll per se, or to having large market teams in a league with smaller market teams without adequately designed revenue sharing?

Surely, people aren't actually upset about an owner spending on free agents, but rather that some owners/organizations can't. But if that's the case, why attack the people who actually spend the money instead of the people who could, but choose not to. The owners that choose not to are almost certainly worse for mlb because they are failing to reinvest earnings back into the sport. While the Yankees are still at (or near) the top of potential, there's no reason for that to always be the case. In fact, many analysts think that the Red Sox have more potential for spending power, with being able to draw from a regional fan base comparable to NY and more sports enthused fans. There are many teams that have the potential to spend like the Yankees if they choose to. What are we really upset about? That some teams have owners Willing to spend more than others? or that some teams have locations that Enable them to spend more?

Personally, I'm more concerned with the latter.

Take the analogy of a farmers market (mlb) where different farmers (teams) are all given plots of land of varying sizes and quality (market size and fan enthusiasm). Winning it all could be compared to a farmer earning the most money in the market. But all people seem to be doing is becoming enraged about the farmer who has cultivated all his land and worked the soil well. That's not going to fix the problem guys. Arguing that no farmer should be allowed to spend more than x amount on seed (players) isn't the best thing for the market (sport). Be concerned about and try to fix the actual problem, not the symptom that shows when one farmer with lots of land does it right.

Demand better revenue sharing based on market size, not a salary cap. And don't complain about the one large scale guy who spends well when you're letting the ones who don't off the hook. That just sounds like sour grapes and isn't addressing what you're actually concerned about.

Unless you actually do think that organizations should spend less than they're capable of to field worse teams than they should. In which case, by all means, keep on going.

Nov 05, 2009 12:31 PM
rating: 6
 
Rob_in_CT

Good post, though "market size" isn't a straightforward thing either, is it? You could have two markets of the same size, but one has a history of baseball passion and the other doesn't. The owner who brings a team to the non-baseball market and struggles at first should probably get more leeway than an owner in a good baseball city who flounders around for no good reason. Not that I have any idea how to do that systematically, mind you.

The Yankees have capitalized on their market, and they've invested heavily in their product. As a fan, I love it. But they do have a built-in advantage. So lots of revenue sharing sounds good to me... and yet you have to get owners who will spend it. But FORCING them to spend it is stupid, because teams need the flexibility to plan for rebuilding cycles. So the solution, it seems to me, is to make sure you get good owners who you trust to try to win. And that, in the end, is the real problem. Baseball is a cartel, and Selig & friends can keep out whomever they wish to keep out (imagine Steinbrenner buying a club today. Not a chance in hell!).


Nov 05, 2009 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

What if teams who are receiving monies from revenue sharing were forced to show an increase in organizational spending (whether from salaries to fan amenities - but not in top-level executive salaries) the following year in a manner consistent with the monies received, or be banned from receiving such monies or other MLB-levied favors (ie. All-Star games) for x years?

Nov 05, 2009 13:19 PM
rating: 1
 
BurrRutledge

"The owner who brings a team to the non-baseball market and struggles at first should probably get more leeway than an owner in a good baseball city who flounders around for no good reason. Not that I have any idea how to do that systematically, mind you."

Ask Tribune.

Nov 05, 2009 15:49 PM
rating: 0
 
yankee

Joe,
Nothing brilliant to add-you wrote an outstanding column. I've been a Yankee fan since 1955,but your comments while you were actually on the field is something every Yanke fan will appreciate. I must say, my admiration for the Phillies grew as we got deeper into the Series. Really not much difference between these two ball clubs.
Best Regards

Nov 05, 2009 12:43 PM
rating: 1
 
BrianGunn
(439)

"I’m standing at second base at Yankee Stadium!!!... I feel light-headed. I should take some grass."

Joe, I can't believe the Yanks won the Series and all you could think about was getting stoned.

Nov 05, 2009 12:47 PM
rating: 5
 
amazin_mess
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Good for them - but they bought it. If, as a Yankees fan, you take pride in that, so be it.

Nov 05, 2009 13:27 PM
rating: -10
 
pbconnection

I guess it sucks to have an owner that doesn't want to win and won't spend what they can afford. As a Yankees fan, I wouldn't know.

Nov 05, 2009 13:35 PM
rating: -1
 
thenamestsam

I cannot understand this point of view, that Yankees fans shouldn't be happy or proud of winning a WS because we spent a lot of money. After watching a team play 177 games it's a proud moment as a fan to watch your team accomplish their ultimate goal. We're not taking pride in buying a championship. We're taking pride in having won one over the course of a long difficult season. The high payroll doesn't mean they didn't win it on the field, the same as any other champion, and really salaries have nothing to do with it once the season starts.
If you believe that the league needs better revenue sharing, fine, I agree with you. But the logical leap to "Yankees fans shouldn't be happy they won, since they bought it" just makes you a petty asshole.

Nov 05, 2009 14:07 PM
rating: 3
 
BrianGunn
(439)

I agree. I'm not a Yanks fan, but it seems to me that if it were so easy to merely 'buy' a championship, then the Yankees would win every year. Sure, the Yanks are competitive every year, which is a luxury most teams can't afford, but championships don't grow on trees, or on checkbooks, and you deserve to celebrate them when they come around.

Nov 06, 2009 00:01 AM
rating: 0
 
Justice

You're missing the point. The posters are not complaining about the Yankees' spending as much as they are complaining about baseball's deeply flawed economic structure. Yankee fans don't want to hear this but wouldn't make sense if the two teams playing in a regular season game -- and, yes, Yankee fans, you actually need two teams to play a game -- equally shared the media revenue generated by that game? If MLB implemented that requirement, by the way, the Yanks would still have a huge advantage, just not the gargantuan one they have now.

What really annoys baseball fans west of the Hudson River (and east of the Connecticut state line) is the sheer inconsistency of many Yankee fans on this economic argument. Yankee fans, it seems, want it both ways: they want a free market to spend media revenue and purchase player contracts but a not so free market for franchise relocation.

The argument, as I understand it, is that the Yankees should be able to spend what whatever revenue their team generates, even if their payroll dwarfs the league average. Fair enough, if MLB was truly a free market. But MLB is not anywhere close to a free market. If Tampa Bay or Minnesota or Florida have poor attendance, can they move to a more desirable location? No, they can't because a team, such as the Yankees, can exercise theit territorial rights to block relocation into their designated area. If the poor teams could move, we would have at least three teams in the New York market. I suspect that we would have four or five: the current teams in Queens and the Bronx, one in Northern New Jersey, one in Long Island and maybe one in Brooklyn. The upshot of such relocation is that the Yankees and Mets would have no choice but to charge more competitive prices for tickets. An actual free market would not only promote competitive balance but would make attendance at actual baseball games more affordable for the consumer.

MLB is, for the most part, against frnachise relocation and I don't have a quarrel with that policy. Stability is good for baseball and franchise relocation disappoints and frustrates fan bases that have supported teams through good times and bad. But if MLB is not going to let Kansas City relocate to Jeresy City, then they have a responsibility to provide an economic structure that gives all teams a chance.

The luxury tax and revenue sharing have made the game more competitive, as shown this decade, but the economic system is still a problem. Because of their disproportionate share of media revenue, the Yankees went on a half-billion dollar spending spree last winter to sign Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett and essentially buy the World Series. Every other team had to scale back because of the economic downturn in the U.S.

In sum, what we have now is the New York Yankees and their $200 million payroll and 29 Washington Generals. Outside of Yankee fanatics, does anyone else really want that?

Nov 06, 2009 07:47 AM
rating: 3
 
BrianGunn
(439)

I think you made a lot of great points, Justice, but your conclusion -- "what we have now is the New York Yankees... and 29 Washington Generals" -- seems like a fairly obscene hyperbole, even if done for effect.

Nov 06, 2009 16:23 PM
rating: 1
 
eighteen
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Joe, I love your writing, and the italics were a useful device; but if all that italicized stuff is what Yankees fans think and feel after 27 titles and waiting only 9 years between titles, the only thing I can say is "Grow up."

Nov 05, 2009 13:45 PM
rating: -8
 
sandriola

I'd be feeling the same way Joe did if I were standing on the field after my team won their 5th World Series and first in 25 years.

It seems like you missed the point of the italicized segments, eighteen.

Nov 05, 2009 19:57 PM
rating: 1
 
bflaff
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Joe's gracious attaboy to the Phils notwithstanding, it will surprise no one when BP's 2010 number crunching predicts as per usual that the Mets will win the NL East, followed by the Braves.

Nov 05, 2009 16:47 PM
rating: -6
 
Tank
(989)

PECOTA has a hard time factoring in trades for #1 starters.

Nov 06, 2009 09:40 AM
rating: 1
 
sandriola

Great article incorporating your inner torment between fan and media member. Giving up any and all public display of your fandom would be the toughest part about being a sportswriter, in my opinion.

Nov 05, 2009 20:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Ray Whatley
(267)

I'm always amazed about how Yankee fans can get so excited about winning the WS

It's pure excitement when in 2008 we had to sit through the mediocrity that was Molina as catcher (Posada only played in 51 games in 2008 due to injury), Giambi at first base, a forgettable, weak bench and a starting staff that featured a mediocre Andy Pettitte, the rascal Darrell Rasner, the immortal Sidney Ponson and a mediocre Chien Ming Wang, plus a mediocre pen outside of Rivera with the forgettable Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Kyle (the gas can) Farnsworth and, finally, the waste that is Kei Igawa tring to remember how to pitch in the minors.

Is it any wonder the brass went hard after C.C, Tex, and to a lesser extent, Burnett? Tex could have signed with Boston, but didn't, going all out for C.C. was a foregone conclusion (it was no certainty that he would sign with an east coast team) and Burnett was a big gamble as Cashman kept his fingers crossed that Burnett wouldn't get injured (again).

Then Cashman added bits and pieces for the bench and then some of the Yankee prospects blossomed enough to put them to good use in the pen.

The Yankees went for it this year, using money (wisely), brains and the talent on hand. It wasn't all about the money--the least paid Yankee starter, Pettitte, was the pitching star for them while C.C. didn't dominate, Burnette only had 1 good game out of 2 and Teixeira was almost a non-factor as a hitter (though his defense was outstanding--but they didn't get him for his glove).

Nov 05, 2009 21:43 PM
rating: -2
 
mattoves

Yeah, Teixeira COULD have signed to Boston - but you forget to mention WHY he signed with New York instead. Because the Yankees offered him $15M more dollars to do so.

Nov 06, 2009 09:30 AM
rating: 0
 
Drungo

Congrats for the wonderful achievement of winning the 100m dash after starting at the 40m point.

Nov 06, 2009 07:42 AM
rating: -1
 
Joe D.

Much appreciated! Hopefully one day, your team will have the box office smarts and willingness to spend revenues which allow *them* to also start at the 40m point.

Nov 06, 2009 08:11 AM
rating: -2
 
KevinS
(961)

Yeah, all they need is for 7 million more people to hurry up and move to within 30 miles of them.

Nov 06, 2009 20:33 PM
rating: 0
 
Noel Steere
(965)

Boston has 7 million people? How do they stand each other?

Nov 06, 2009 23:31 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

They got this big river that cuts right through the city and divides up the masses into multiple chunks.

Nov 08, 2009 15:01 PM
rating: 1
 
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