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If you’re a sports fan and you don’t know who this is, you should probably go watch Bravo instead of ESPN. As a quick refresher, he is probably the most powerful and well-funded general manager in all of sports, especially since the death of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Still don’t know who he is? Ok, for those of you in “special” classes: Brian Cashman is the longtime general manager of the New York Yankees.
First of all, the Yankees are not good, being outperformed by teams such as the Astros with less than half their total payroll (but twice the talent). This past offseason, in an attempt at regaining their early decade relevancy, the Yankees spent big, acquiring closer Aroldis Chapman and Starlin Castro, and banking on the healthy return of star players such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera, Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia to ignite a run towards World Series ring number twenty-eight in New York.
Like a broken condom, though, sometimes shit just doesn’t go as planned. From essentially day one, the Yankees have vacillated between mediocre and near Braves-level patheticism, never seriously challenging for what has become a stacked AL East trio headlined by the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox, all of which will likely make the playoffs. Languishing at the bottom with that team from Tampa I can’t believe hasn’t pulled a St. Louis Rams yet, the once mighty Yankees entered the week of the trade deadline in an almost totally unfamiliar position: seller.
Now to be fair, tanking does not bother me, especially in the MLB. I understand why teams sell off players to stock their farm systems, relieving the immense financial burden of waning stars for the promise and financial security of pre-arbitration contracts amidst salivating scouting departments. What I do not understand, however, is forcing players to retire, and unloading free agent signings not even a calendar year old. Chapman, for instance, signed with the Yankees just this year, appearing in less than 30 total games before being shipped off to Chicago. Fortunately for Aroldis, he landed in a good city with a great team, perhaps a palatable situation for him and his family. But who knows? Imagine if he was a fucking Cleveland Indian, or had to move to Canada? While I understand what Cashman is doing is squarely within the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, if you’re a free agent, can you trust the Yankees’ brass, who undoubtedly sold you on the incredible lifestyle of a young multi-millionaire in NYC and the chase for ring twenty-eight, after seeing their once prized acquisition dumped after half a year of nearly flawless on-field performance?
The worst, though, is what has happened to A-Rod (and maybe Teixiera, but less is known about that situation). For as polarizing as he is, Alex Rodriguez was a phenomenal baseball player, a focal point of an era that was rife with performance enhancement, with a few players (Bonds, A-Rod namely) somewhat inexplicably shouldering the brunt of the public’s disdain. Regardless of what he did in the past, the Yankees chose to resign Rodriguez, tried every way imaginable not to honor the rest of his contract though he lost almost $30 million in sales last season, and have now paraded him through the most humiliating supposed “victory lap” imaginable.
Rodriguez was unfairly benched for days at a time, completely unsupported by his manager and front office, supplanted in favor of far less able players, and forced to end a magnificent career on everyone’s terms but his own. The Yankees are on the hook for his money next season, the last of his record-setting contract, which I suppose adds some semblance of fairness to this mess, but leaving a man four home runs short of 700, refusing to play him even in the midst of a hopeless season, is senseless cruelty, and should provide a warning to all “stars” interested in donning the pinstripes in the future.
I understand this is a business, and I realize what Cashman is doing with an eye towards a 2017 free agency haul perhaps unrivaled in recent baseball history. But if you’re Harper, Stanton, and any of the other huge names that could find themselves on the market (Stanton has an option), maybe think twice about who you want to play for, and who you can trust.
The Yankees, my hometown team — this one hurts..
Image via YouTube