$32 million is a lot of money. And a lot of money can buy a lot of things.
With $32 million, you can buy the world’s most expensive car ($2,400,000) 13 times over.
With $32 million, you can pay for the tuition of 1,200 students at Binghamton University (bear with me, out-of-staters).
With $32 million, you can account for at least half of the total 2011 payrolls of nine MLB teams.
So $32 million can buy a lot.
But it doesn’t buy championships, so in the world of the New York Yankees and their fans, it doesn’t buy happiness. It doesn’t even buy a World Series appearance, so it doesn’t even almost buy happiness.
Hell, if you ask Alex Rodriguez, it doesn’t even get you a trip to the American League Championship Series.
That was how I started this column last Thursday, just an hour after A-Rod had struck out to end the Yankees’ season for the second consecutive year. I’ll admit, I was writing on instinct, and Alex Rodriguez had just concluded the second-worst postseason of his career by striking out with the game-tying run on base. I’m sure most Yankee fans would have reacted (and did react) the same way.
But having had the weekend to stew things over, my take on the ALDS loss is a little different. So with that in mind, let’s continue.
I still think $32 million is a lot of money. But so is $196,854,630, which was the Yankees’ entire payroll this year. It led the MLB. Big shocker there.
By comparison, the 1998 Yankees made around $65 million in total. Understanding of course that the great ’98 World Championship team came in a different time, it was exactly that; a team. Boy, do names like Tino Martinez, David Cone, Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill and Chad Curtis bring me back.
Each member of that roster contributed his fair share, and you don’t really remember expecting much more out of any one player over another. Is it because the highest-paid Yankee that year was making just over $8 million? Could be.
Baseball is a team game, and it’s right up there with basketball, football and hockey as the most team-oriented games out there. So while it’s easy to blame one incredibly rich superstar for his team’s failures, at least some of the onus has to fall on his teammates, too.
Was LeBron James 100 percent to blame for Miami’s loss in the NBA Finals? Of course not. But because of the drama that came with him joining the Heat, he was at the end of both the country’s collective pointer (and middle) fingers when Dallas raised the trophy.
With great power (and in this case, money,) comes great responsibility. So for a team with the salary of this year’s Yanks, there’s just no excuse for the ALDS loss.
Let’s forget Games 1-4 for a second and just concentrate on the final pressure-filled three innings of Game 5 — you know, when superstars should be earning their money.
The Bombers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but were only able to scratch across one run (which was forced in with a Mark Teixeira walk).
Teixeira made just over $23 million this year, by the way. But at least for that money he kept the line moving, something my high school baseball coach always stressed as important to keeping a rally alive.
A-Rod followed with a strikeout, and Nick Swisher ($9 million) followed by doing the same.
In the eighth, Derek Jeter ($14 million) almost put the Yankees ahead with a long fly out. Don’t pretend you didn’t have a flashback of Jeffrey Maier, because we all did.
And finally, it came down to that desperate bottom of the ninth. Curtis Granderson ($8 million) flew out, Robinson Cano ($10 million) lined out and Rodriguez struck out.
I’d have loved to get on the “hate A-Rod” bandwagon. And for a few hours, I was riding shotgun. But at the end of the day, you can’t hold one player accountable for a team’s failed effort.
Don’t get me wrong. $32 million is still plenty of money. But according to my calculations, $196 million is more. Feel free to double-check the math on that, though.
So if you want to blame A-Rod, go ahead. He makes the big bucks and should absolutely be held accountable for his own shortcomings.
But to be fair, there are others who should share the blame.
Then again, nobody said life was fair.