Saturday, April 17, 2004

A Valentine's Day Massacre by Kip Yates

The clock was ticking away on Valentines Day, a Hallmark holiday if there ever was one. I was slowly running short of time to cook a romantic meal for Jamie whom I have been married to for almost seven years and have been “dating” for fifteen years. This is our day.

Jamie and I usually celebrate our anniversary with a wink and a smile to Valentines Day because we know better. I had planned to make prosciutto chicken, something that said “I love you” without being too complicated and was more than the usual spaghetti and marinara sauce I have tried to pawn off as romantic dinners in the past. The cheesecake from Junior’s was in the fridge. River, our son, was napping. I just had to cook the meal before Jamie arrived home from work. Yet I found myself staring blankly into my computer screen. I could not quite believe what I was reading. It was like getting punched in the breadbasket. It was a 2 x 4 upside the head. The headline taunted me.

Was I waking from a lucid dream to a bona fide nightmare? There it was in black and white: Alex Rodriguez going to the Yanks. I had just completed writing what I would share with Zisk readers as my theory that the birth of my son signaled the end of the Yankees dynasty and now, not only was the dynasty alive and well; it had baseball’s greatest shortstop, if not greatest player, on their payroll. Seconds ticked by and I asked myself several questions. Do I need to rewrite my article on the premature demise of the Yankees? Does this deal make sense? Can it be believed? Should I get out of town before the parade? Should I serve spinach as a side dish? I sat there for several minutes and then I did something that absolutely surprised me. I went on with my life.

Alex Rodriguez is now a Yankee and I could not care less. I am surprised at my sudden shift in attitude but not that surprised. I guess my priorities have changed or I have just thrown in the towel when it comes to hating the Yankees. Maybe I am just in denial. The mega deal the Yankees made with the Texas Rangers doesn't make a difference to me whatsoever. It's a good deal for the Yankees and a bad one for baseball in general. What else is new? I was one of the many fans hoping the Red Sox would make the trade for Pay Rod. I prematurely celebrated with my brothers-in-arms and fellow Yankees haters. When that deal fell through, I truly believed Pay Rod would at least open the season with the Rangers. I never thought in a million years that he would be traded to the Yankees. Then third baseman Aaron Boone blew his knee playing basketball and everything changed. Like they always have been able to do, the Yankees got their man and then some. They always close deals like this. Boston, on the other hand, always seems to screw up deals like this and when they do, the whining reaches epic decibels. Boston is always trumped by New York and has been since 1918. The falling apart of the Pay Rod deal to Boston is, in a nutshell, why the Red Sox cannot win anything. It’s tough to win it all when you are only trying to beat the Yankees. The “Curse” is in the heads of the entire entity. The front office, team, fans and city all have been driven crazy over the years like Captain Ahab and the Yankees are their Moby Dick. They could have had Pay Rod, but they were not offering enough. They could have kept Ruth! They could have been the first to sign a Negro Leaguer instead of the last. They could have had Mays. They could have won in ’78 but they choked and not just in the Bucky Dent game. They should have won it all in ’86, but didn't. They could have won the AL last year but were again beaten by the better run team. If this winter has taught me anything, it’s that when it comes to wheelin’ and dealin’ in the off-season, Boston can blow their trumpet pretty loud but they always get blown out by the Yankees brass and it carries over into the season. The Yankees get it done. That’s the bottom line. They are closers and the Red Sox are posers.

Boston: handled trade negotiations for Pay Rod through the media because they could not wait to announce that they had outdone and outspent the Yankees. They alienated two of their superstars in the process and did not close the deal.

New York: handled the affair with an air of secrecy and did not announce anything until the deal was done. They added a seventh All Star and closed the deal to much fanfare.

I hate everything Pay Rod stands for. He gets to win now and keep his money and to hell with the other 24 guys that he was contractually obligated to stick by in Texas. Pay Rod gets his cake and gets to eat it too. I don't buy his “team first… I just want to win” shtick for a moment. He is the most selfish player playing on the most selfish team in the most selfish league in all of sports. Just as selfish is his agent, Scott Boras, who engineered everything from the record breaking blockbuster contract to the potential trade to Boston and eventual trade to New York. New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said of Boras: “…the de facto Yankee general manager, was down the row, beaming at A-Rod when he wasn’t checking the floor in front of him in case somebody had dropped a 20-dollar bill.”

I read the other day that Boston’s payroll is about 20% higher than the nearest competitor. New York’s payroll is about 50% percent higher than Boston’s. In the NFL, at the beginning of the season, even the Lions have a shot at the Super Bowl. The same cannot be said for the Tigers. The collective bargaining agreement has been a disaster. One owner continues to thumb his nose at the luxury tax that other owners put into their pockets and not their teams. I hope that the current labor agreement expires without another agreement in place and baseball players go on strike for about seven years. Sure, I will miss the game but not this game. Without a team salary cap, you can rest assured that anytime a player signs a $100 million dollar contract with another team besides the Yankees, the celebration will be short-lived. Why? Because owners like Tom Hicks will continue to strap their team’s payroll to only a few players and George Steinbrenner will continue to bail them out and take on their all stars because he can and does afford it and they can and will not. I look for Mike Hampton and Jim Thome or Albert Pujols to be New York before all is said and done.

With that said, don’t start planning the parade route in New York just yet. Boston still has all-star caliber pitching and the Yankees have all righties. Boston has team chemistry, give or take Nomar and Manny, and New York has a clubhouse of ultra egos that could implode at any moment. Don’t forget: no team has ever won the World Series with a $100 million dollar guy on their payroll. And the Yankees have four of them! Also remember: what looks good on paper does not always look good on the field. See the 2001 Mets! I am stepping off my soapbox now. There will not be any more rants about the Yankees from me. I am done. I am exhausted. I don’t care anymore. Besides, I have a spaghetti dinner I need to make.

Kip Yates, a mild mannered supervisor by day at a posh New York publishing office, likes to don his cape and pretend to be Subway Man by night. When an elderly woman is shoved into the doorway of a train car, Kip will be there. When a pregnant mother is not offered a seat on the train, Kip will be there. When a man suffers from a mild case of elephantitis of the scrotum and takes up more seat than is his fair share, Kip will be there. When Kip cannot be there, he is usually home with his wife and their love child. Much has changed for Kip in recent months. For instance, he stopped leaving the toilet seat up, uses eating utensils, wears shirts at the dinner table and started closing soda bottle caps tighter. The fizz escapes that way, ya know. Kip, an avowed Yankee hater, is tired of hating the Yankees and wishes they would just go away. He has promised his wife no more anti-Yankees rants. Though she gave him three “in case of emergency, break glass” scenarios.

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