Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Monday, February 16, 2004

CONTRA COSTAS Foolishly eschewing sleep, I watched some of the Mike Francesa show last night. He had on Bob Costas, hereafter to be known as That Arrogant Jerk Bob Costas, who was laying into The Trade. He was especially unkind to the Players' Association, which blocked a proposed trade of A-Rod to Boston on the grounds that it diminished the value of his contract. He went off about how the Curt Flood case was all about "freedom," but how now that A-Rod wanted the "freedom" to play for a winning team, and was willing to trade a few million for it, and the union had blocked it. He also declared the trade "bad for baseball" and announced that only people with a kind of myopic New Yorker provincialism could look upon this trade as anything other than a catastrophe. (Whereas, of course, a trade of A-Rod to baseball's second-richest team, the Red Sox, would have been an unqualified good.)

Well, call me a myopic New York provincial, but NYA-NYA-NYA...I think the trade was a good thing, for all involved. Maybe not for "baseball," but for all the actual parties actually involved in the trade. The Yankees: they got the best player in baseball. Alex Rodriguez: he gets to play for a contender for the first time in years, and finally gets to be a superstar in a big market, AND he gets to do it all without having to forego one cent of that ridiculous fat contract he signed. The Rangers: they dump huge amounts of salary, and get a superstar player who's more talented than the one they initially tried to trade for (Manny Ramirez) at a quarter the cost. The Players' Association: they got to preserve the principle that players can't negotiate to lower the value of their contracts, which I don't necessarily agree with but which I think is a reasonable position for a sports union trying to protect the negotiating power of its mid-level talent to take.

Did Boston lose? Of course. And you know why? Because they weren't willing to pony up an additional $15 million to land the best player in baseball, just about to hit his prime. (c.f. today's Daily Quickie) They have no-one to blame but themselves. They came up with the idea of trading for A-Rod. They can't blame the Yankees because they got cold feet at the altar. And they certainly can't blame the Yankees for looking at the almost-trade and thinking hey, what a great idea...

Good for baseball? Who cares? Baseball isn't the Yankees' damn charity case. George Steinbrenner didn't write the rules,* he just uses them to win.

*In fact, the most recent set of rules was written, however ineffectively, to constrain George.