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Last night the New York Yankees ended their nine-year struggle to win the World Series. The Yankees also outspent every team in baseball…again. Weighing in at just over $201 million in 2009, the Yankees outspent the Mets, who had the second highest payroll, by $52.1, or just over one season of the entire Pittsburgh Pirates roster.
Through their “drought,” the Yankees spent this way every year until last year when their bundles of cash and a frozen economy let them scoop up all three premier free agents. Baseball is broken as long as this is allowed, but since a salary cap is highly unlikely, fans have only one consolation: the big bad is back.
By winning another World Series, the baseball-watching public, not just Red Sox Nation, can see clearly again which team is the enemy. Which team they will root against no matter whom the opponent. For the Red Sox, this makes the rivalry an actual rivalry! During the 86 years the Sox suffered, the Yankees feasted. That’s closer to the Washington Generals and the Harlem Globetrotters. Between 2000 and 2009, the Red Sox and Yankees were both among the elite of baseball.
Entering the next decade, the Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams to have won two World Series championships in the 2000s. They enter the 2010s on even footing. Forget 27 rings. Forget 86 years. Baseball has changed since 2000. On base percentage, the smart front office, and the goal of finding players who are great athletes and put up great statistics, have created a smarter, better version of America’s pastime. It’s an arms race and we’re minutes from midnight: the next ALCS between baseball’s clearly richest team and likely its smartest.