Money Can’t Buy Happiness….or a World Series

One of my New Years Resolutions is to seriously — studiously — follow the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.

“But wait a minute, Yosty,” you ask, “I thought you bled Yankee blue?”

I did. Call me a fair-weather fan, call me a whatever, I’ve sort of grown tired of the New York Yankees. For a number of reasons.

Reason No. 1 is money. Yes, Ben Koster, the Yankees have always been about money. But over the past few years, they’ve become downright piggish.

First there was the “new” Yankee Stadium. I’m sorry, but I just can’t warm up to the place. Although it’s architecturally similar to the “old” Yankee Stadium, it is light years away from the place I went to as a kid. The place I used to enjoy seeing come into view on the left as the No. 4 train came up out of the subway tunnel. The place where my friends and I would sit in the first row of the upper deck and roll joints on the stainless steelLos_Angeles_Dodgers ledge. The place I went for countless Red Sox-Yankee games with the Savinos.

I hate the new stadium because of how it was built — with tax-free, taxpayer financing. The Yankees — like most sports franchises — are a multi-billion-dollar business. They make $350 million in media rights alone, before they’ve sold a single ticket, a single dirty-water hot dog, or collected $70 per car for playoff parking.

Add to this the fact that the Junior Steinbrenners now want to limit their payroll to $189 million, and it has just soured me on the Yankees. Yes, their dad had deep pockets and he spent lavisly on players like Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield, but he did it because he wanted to win championships. For his boys, it’s all about the bottom line. I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll come back in a few years, not because they’re winning again, but because they’re a different franchise.

This is not a new development for me. I’ve been souring on the Yankees for a few years. I’ve mainly hung with them because I wanted my son, George, to have the same affinity for them that I had. I now know that is impossible. It’s a different time, a different era, a different New York Yankees. Despite that, George (Yost, not Steinbrenner) remains a die-hard fan. In fact, he’s appalled that in July, when we see the Yankees play the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, I’ll be in a Johnny Podres jersey. God bless him for his loyalty, but I’m getting off this bandwagon.

Of course, just as I decide to switch my allegiances to the Dodgers, they become the National League version of the Yankees of old. But I’m OK with that, because the new Dodgers are like the Old Yankees. Their spending a boatload of money because they want to win the World Series.

Will they? I don’t know. A column in today’s L.A. Times asks some pointed questions about the millions both the Dodgers and Angels have spent in the offseason to built super-star teams. But as the Yankees learned all too often, super stars do not a team make. What made the Yankee team of the 1990s so great was the fact that many of their best players were home grown — Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada. Others — Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill — were workaday guys. Could the Dodgers and Angels — filling their rosters with big-name sluggers like Matt Kemp, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols — be making the same mistake?

Each also knows that anything less than a playoff spot, maybe less than a berth in the World Series, will bring the murmurs. When a manager’s job security is a topic — here, there and everywhere — before Christmas, the pressure of expectation is a large issue.

There are other questions, such as:

—Might those fans who find distasteful the reality of men being paid millions to play a game stop supporting those millions by not buying tickets and not watching TV?

—Can this create an underdog backlash? Will the number of Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics fans grow?

—Might fans slowly come to the recognition that the TV people, whose money is enabling the owners to go confidently and stridently to their checkbooks, will get it back from them by raising cable and satellite rates and shoving more commercials down their throats?

—Will ticket-buying fans start to understand, and react to, the reality that sports teams are rapidly becoming TV shows first and foremost; that fans’ presence in the stadium is nice window dressing for the telecasts, but that TV rights fees drive the bus now and ticket revenue is decreasingly essential? Are starting times and schedules now done more for the comfort of the person in the stadium seats or the person on the living room couch?

 

 

 

 

To that end, I’ve started reading a bunch of the Dodger blogs every morning.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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