Let's face it. Nothing brings America closer together than an occasion when a sports team from New York gets humiliated.
This happened last week when the upstart Texas Rangers embarrassed the New York Yankees and dethroned the defending baseball champions, who lost in six brutal games in the American League Championship Series.
The New York Post's front-page headline screamed: "Yanks for Nothing."
That seemed a mite harsh to me — a lifelong fan of the Bronx Bombers, by the way — but America must have rejoiced.
To a lot of the American people, New York remains the City We Love to Hate. Even though Mayor Michael Bloomberg has done a masterful political job at cleaning up the finances of the recession-devastated metropolis, everyone west of the Hudson wants the city to fail. To them, it would seem, New York is a hateful place of muggers carrying guns and muggers from Wall Street.
New York is a blasphemous, privileged center to the vast U.S. population — and no symbol perpetuates the unsolicited image more than the Yankees.
The team has a payroll of an eye-popping $210 million — translating to the grotesque fact that the average player makes several millions of dollars a year, led by $30-million-a-year slugger Alex Rodriguez (who missed much of the 2010 season and averaged roughly a $1 million for each home run).
The Yankees were personified by Derek Jeter, the Hall of Fame-to-be shortstop who had a poor season and is now a free agent. There is little chance that Jeter, a lifelong Yankee stalwart, will wind up playing anywhere but in the Bronx. But can the Yankees award him a typically bloated contract when he might be grudgingly entering his twilight years?
America already knows the answer: Of course, the Yankees will do just that. This is a highly successful business venture disguised as a baseball team.
The Yankees inevitably will sign Cliff Lee, the most coveted free agent player out there. They just may end up grabbing Carl Crawford, the second-most desirable free agent player.
When that happens, listen for the howls that the Yankees have an advantage because their multibillion-dollar machine is set up to take advantage of baseball's ridiculous structure, in which there is no salary cap.
It will be heralded as another case when the big-city monster crushes the little guys in Major League Baseball. They will be right.
And you know what? America wouldn't have it any other way — because it is just so much fun for the nation when the Yankees fall on their high-priced faces.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.
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