Opening Day has come and gone and the rites of spring are coming down the pike fast and furious.
A tabloid writer wildly overreacting to a bad performance from the Yankee bullpen. The Mets raising the hopes of their devoted fans. Complaints about how the Yankees are ruining baseball by making a lot of money. The Yankees responding to those complaints by sounding like petty despots.
The final pair came up on Tuesday as Yankees president Randy Levine decided to take a chomp at some bait laid out by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. Attanasio is trying to sign first baseman Prince Fielder to a long-term contract and moaned to USA Today that it is difficult to do that in a baseball world where "the Yankees infield is making more than our team."
Whiny, to be sure, but factually correct. The Yankees infield makes just north of the $85 million that the Brewers will spend on their entire team this season. Levine wasn't concerned with facts when he issued a response on the radio, however.
"I'm sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers. We play by all the rules and there doesn't seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players. The question that should be asked is: Where has the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?"
The answer is pretty clear. It's gone into paying the Brewers' players.
The Brewers play in a puny market, have a small fanbase and inhabit a very different universe than the Yankees in every way. They get money from revenue sharing (which, by the by, isn't the same as the luxury tax figure used in the ESPNNewYork.com article featuring Levine's retort) and they've used it to put a pretty competitive ballclub on the field in recent years which is both the point and good for baseball.
That said, the sad violins about payroll disparity is beyond stale and more than a little obnoxious coming from men who are doing quite well for themselves all things considered. Maybe you can't afford to pay Fielder like Mark Teixeira, but that's not an excuse for not building a winning team.
There is absolutely no reason for the Yankees to be embarassed or apologetic about the amount of money they make nor the amount of money they spend to put their team on the field. But they don't have to act like they are being punished for helping to ensure that baseball can continue to exist in places outside of New York, Boston and Chicago. The system may not be ideal, but baseball needs to make sure that both the Brewers and Yankees can succeed.
Levine specializes in these kinds of rabid responses, he was particularly adamant that the Yankees didn't overprice their tickets right up to the point that the Yankees cut their prices, and it is a complete mystery as to why he or the team feels it is in their best interests to get involved in these silly arguments.