By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
1. Mo Money/Mo Wins: The Yankees payroll of about $206 million (down from about $209 million last year) is again the tops in baseball and is thrice that of the Twins (about $68 million). They presently sport the four richest contracts in baseball history, inked to A-Rod, Jeter, Texieira, and Sabathia. They have the highest-paid MLB player at six different positions, and have made the playoffs in every year but one (2008) since 1995. Just four of their starters come via their farm system, while the Twins offer six starting homegrown products from the Bread Basket.
2. Short on Class: After winning the 1991 Rookie of the Year and the World Series in that same season, stud Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch eventually slithered his way out of the Twin Cities when things went south. Although he won three more titles with the Yanks, the diminutive Knobby eventually was shifted to left field when he lost the ability to throw to first, was pelted with batteries and dollar bills in his Dome return, was named in the Mitchell Report investigating steroid usage, and—in recent weeks—was charged with choking his common-law wife in Houston. Comeuppance can prove a long way down, even for short dudes.
3. They Dissed Joe Torre: Despite taking the Yanks to the postseason in 12 straight years (1995-2007) and winning four World Series titles, Joe Torre was given the exciting offer to take a pay cut and stay in New York. After aptly declining, Torre took the Dodgers gig and brought them to the postseason, while the Yanks finished third in the AL East in Joe Girardi's incipient season as skip. Torre is essentially the Phil Jackson of baseball; yeah, he's been provided with high-priced talent—but he also has the unique ability to manage said talent, making him one of the most respected figures in baseball. Torre took the Dodgers to the playoffs again this season, giving the organization their first back-to-back division titles since 1977-78.
4. A-Roid: Alex Rodriguez has been in the Bigs since he was 18 years old, having bombed 583 home runs and collected over 2,500 hits since 1994. His numbers will ultimately be recorded among baseball's best. Over the winter, he admitted to taking steroids over a three-year period beginning in 2001. While that sullied the rep of his hardball acumen, it's really his personality that could have used some steroids. The guy is the most aloof superstar in modern-day baseball, void of humor and apparently dating the zany Kate Hudson. Who are you going to have your kid look up to? This juicer? Or Joe Mauer, who's powered by 2 percent milk?
5. Free Agency Overhaul: One of the reasons besides the money that the Yankees can continue to dominate in the MLB is their attack on free agency. The Yankees continue to win by simply outbidding every other team for free agents, and when those free agents don't work out...just buy more free agents! And we wonder why other teams are only able to rely on farm systems.
6. New Yankee Stadium Seating Prices: If you want to see a Yankees game in New York, you'd better be able to come up with $75. It's $375 for a "decent" seat. This basically eliminates any hope of a memorable father/son outing. Even though the Yankees' investments are safe, they don't think twice about the fact that a child's father is saving up for two weeks just to take him to a ballgame. Fifteen years from now, these kids will be telling stories of the one baseball game they were able to go to as a kid.
7. Mauer's Sirens: As bystanders in the eventual Joe Mauer contract situation—his contract expires after next season—we can only pray that the MVP candidate eschews what will likely prove to be crazy dollar offers from either/both the Yankees and the Red Sox, both of whom count aging starting catchers on their rosters.