Baseball Predictions: Thaaaa Yankees Win!

We are peering through the haze, peering ahead to October.

We see confetti floating. We see champagne spouting. We see another of baseball's interminable World Series droughts fading into the past tense.

The Cubs, you ask? The Indians? The Giants?

Nope. Sorry. We can see it now. From the same sport that wiped out 86 years of unbearable Red Sox doom and then obliterated 88 years of unceasing White Sox gloom, perhaps the most painful drought of them all is about to cease. Finally.

We are talking about the anguish, the suffering of ...

The New York Yankees ... a team that hasn't won the World Series in nearly five-and-a-half long years.

Well, they're back, friends. This is their year.

Some teams dream about winning the World Series. The Yankees are required to win the World Series. Every stinking year. Or else.

So you don't think five-and-a-half trophyless years for the Yankees are the equivalent of 86 years of droughts and curses in a place like New England? Guess again.

"Oh, yeah, it may be," Derek Jeter laughs. "I don't know about the other side, obviously. But here, it definitely seems like it's been a long time."

For five consecutive Octobers they've had to watch some other team celebrate. And almost all those teams got to celebrate, by the way, because, somewhere along the line, they'd vanquished the mighty Yankees.

That is not the Yankees' idea of fun. It is more like the Yankees' idea of torture.

Asked if he even watches the World Series when his team isn't in it, Jeter gets a look on his mug that is the kind of look the rest of us might get if we were asked if we'd like to pass a kidney stone the size of a bowling ball.

"Noooo," Jeter says. "I ain't watching that. No interest. I get sick to my stomach watching that stuff.

"I'm not a good loser," Jeter reminds us, as if anybody suspected otherwise.

And his boss, his owner -- that Steinbrenner character -- he's an even worse loser. Which is why, since the last time the Yankees won a World Series (way, way back in the year 2000), Steinbrenner's team has:

Signed 12 major free agents (i.e., players making more than $5 million a year): Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui (twice), Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Contreras, Sterling Hitchcock, Robin Ventura and Steve Karsay. Total price tag: more than half a billion dollars ($529.45 million).

Traded for Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Brown, Raul Mondesi and David Justice -- all of whom made slightly more than, say, Bubba Crosby.

Lost postseason series five times to teams -- the Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox and Angels again -- that spent a combined 362.7 million fewer payroll dollars than the Yankees did.

Cashman in Control

After every one of those lost series, Steinbrenner has stewed, fumed and done an excellent job of pulling out his checkbook.

But if you haven't paid attention lately, maybe you haven't noticed some very significant Yankees events -- events that indicate a shifting of Yankees philosophies.

Two winters ago, they actually passed on a chance to sign Carlos Beltran, because they didn't see tying up another $100 million (plus a potential $40 million more in luxury tax) as a real brilliant idea.

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