The New York Yankees and how they Represent American Reality

November 22, 2011

Political Theory


Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “The ends justify the means.” In other words, life is all about survival of the fittest, particularly in the United States of America. Furthermore, people should and will do what it takes to win at all costs. Being that we live in a capitalist society, government interference in everyday life is frowned upon. In the world we live in, equality is nearly nonexistent. Fair or unfair, we live in an imperfect world. Some people may be born into extreme wealth and have life handed to them while others may be born into extreme poverty and struggle to eat three meals a day. That being said, the New York Yankees are completely representative of reality in America: the strong will survive and the weak will suffer.

Quite frankly, after every Yankees win, I’m sick of hearing that they’re the best team that money can buy. Whether this statement is true or false is completely irrelevant. Even if that was truly the case, here is my question: who cares? So they’re the best team that money can buy! Good for them! Instead of complaining about it, people need to accept the fact that it’s reality. According to an article written by David Degraw in February of 2010, 1% of the United States population owns 70% of all financial assets, an all time record. That being said, it may be unfair that other teams do not have the funds or resources to compete with the Yankees, but that is simply a product of the country we live in. I can also assure you of one thing: if other teams did have the resources that the Yankees had, they would be sure to exploit them in much the same fashion. With that in mind, is it really fair to criticize the Yankees for doing what they are capable of doing in order to give themselves the best chance to win?

I don’t hear nearly as many people complaining about the fact that so many wealthy people simply inherit their fortunes rather than earn them, such as Jim Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks. According to moneytipcentral.com, 31% of billionaires in the United States did not actually earn their fortunes, they inherited them. The percentages are even more staggering in several other countries. However, people fail to recognize this the way they recognize how much money the Yankees spend on free agents. The reason for this is because wealth is nothing more than a subconscious realization of a capitalist society that is representative of the United States of America. More often that not, life will be unfair. Some high school students will have better connections to the University of Michigan than others, while some University of Michigan students will have better connections to internships than others. That is the world we live in. Unfair? Yes. Changing anytime soon? No.

People must accept the fact that we live in an unfair world, just as the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball are at least aware that they cannot compete with the Yankees strictly through finances. If baseball were all about which team could afford to pay its players the most money, the Yankees would win the World Series every single year. However, although money and resources are undoubtedly a huge factor, there is more to the equation. The best team on paper is not always the best team on the field. There are certain strategies other than spending the most money that teams can employ in order to compete with the likes of the Yankees. For example, the movie Moneyball, is about how Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, worked around the leagues lowest budget, ultimately putting together a team that won 103 games, including 20 in a row at one point. Billy Beane was able to put this team together through the use of a very unique strategy, heavy reliant upon the exploitation of statistics, not money. That being said, although this strategy may only be effective for so long, there will always be new, unique strategies that can be incorporated in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Although some Americans are extremely less fortunate than others, that does not mean they have zero chance of moving up in the world. Yes, it will be far more difficult for them, but if David can defeat Goliath, a poor man can make a fortune, just as the 2002 Oakland Athletics were able to make the playoffs despite having the lowest payroll in baseball that season. No, life is not fair; so stop complaining about the Yankees having more money than any other team. Rather, come to terms with a reality that is representative of the United States of America, and do something about it, just as Billy Beane did with A’s in 2002. Just as capitalism preaches that people should be allowed to make a fortune, the Yankees should be allowed to take advantage of their fortune and spend it, just as they have been. Implementing a salary cap would be wrong, just as it would be wrong to limit how much money an American can make. This is a capitalist country, not communist.

Try to pretend that my obnoxious tone suddenly morphed into an extremely welcoming tone and feel free to express your opinions. Baseball allegiances aside, do you agree or disagree, and why? Do the Yankees represent America? If so, is it fair or unfair? Finally, do people from less fortunate backgrounds have a realistic chance to make it in this world?

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12 Comments on “The New York Yankees and how they Represent American Reality”

  1. wjpetok24 Says:

    While I can understand the concept and justification of your “unfair world” view, I find it a bit short-cited and arrogant. I also hate the New York Yankees. Regardless, our current financial system related to baseball and the U.S. government has identified a growing disparity between the halves and the halve nots. It is a shame that this blog post is arguing in favor of my more deregulated capitalism, and more reckless spending. The similiarities between the MLB and US are eerily similar, with teams such as the Yankees reaping the benefits like such businesses and firms in our country.

    For the sake of argument, I believe a salary cap should be placed in baseball to provide more parody for the league and its fans. Yankee fans shouldn’t be the only ones who get to enjoy consistent talented players and winning baseball simply because they have more means to do so. While many will argue moneyball tactics and other ideas can defeat and undermine organizations like the Yankees, my only flaw with that is the consistency in which they can do so. Sure the Tampa Bay Rays can be competitive for a few years, but a decade of legitimacy? Highly unlikely given the structure of their team as a for-profit business rather than a just-win at all costs mentality that has produced nearly a century of fortune for the Yankees.

  2. benjishanus Says:

    You make a fair point and I respect your opinion, but keep in mind that I’m not necessarily suggesting that the current system in place is what’s best for baseball. What I am saying is that the likeliness of this system changing anytime soon is slim, so people need to accept it rather than become disheartened by it.

    I’m not blinded by the reality that the Yankees have an advantage over the rest of the league, and what you said regarding the halves and halve nots is valid. However, the reason why I’m not shooting down this reality is because that’s exactly what it is, REALITY. I don’t mean to sound redundant, but this is an exact product of the country we live in and the ideals we promote. Look carefully at what I wrote. At no point did I say it was fair or attempt to justify it anyway other than stating the obvious. It’s irrelevant. There are prices to pay for promoting capitalism just as there are prices to pay for promoting socialism. By no means am I arguing against capitalism. What I am doing is pointing out the side effects of it. You can campaign all you want for a salary cap, but that will not be happening anytime soon, so you’re better off coming to terms with reality, rather than complaining about it, hence, the point of this post. The Yankees do everything in their power to win and be the best, which is what the United States of America is all about.

    People need to look for ways to overcome juggernauts such as the Yankees, rather than fuss about them. Nobody is saying it will be easy or fair, but they also want feel sorry for you.

  3. blogger32 Says:

    I thought this was a really interesting post, because it deals with truths that many people dislike about America, especially inequality. I also found this post to be interesting because it relates social issues to the Yankees, my favorite sports teams. One thing you mention early on in your post that I very much agree with, is that the strong will survive and the weak will not. I think this is a very true point, because whether you come from a wealthy background or a poor background, the reality of our world is you must survive….it will be easier for some than others. Another interesting point you make is that the about 70% of American assets are owned by the top 1%. I think that is a really interesting point that shows the harsh realities of our country, but as you said…this will not be changing anytime soon. My advice to the people who hate this fact is simple: do something about it.

    Something you also write about in your post is how you are sick of hearing how the Yankees are the best team money can buy. I too, am very sick of hearing that. People need to realize, that the amount of money baseball teams spend has a lot more to do with how much their owners are willing to spend, not how much they actually have. The Steinbrenner family, has made the decision to invest over 25% of their family’s fortune into the Yankees organization. This was not something they were forced to do, but they made the choice to help their team win by utilizing more of their money than other owners choose to. For this reason, I don’t think the Yankees are necessarily “the best team money can buy” but rather the best team money can buy for owners who simply want to win more than the others. However, as you mention, just because you can spend the most money does not mean you are the best team every year…look at the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the World Series this year, but spend over $50 Million less than the Yankees. To finish this up, I’d say yes, the Yankees do represent what our country embodies: the principle of the strongest surviving. And as I said earlier, for the people who resent not having all of the opportunities others have: do something about it.

  4. Justin Says:

    While I agree that people should be allowed to spend their money in a way that will benefit them the most (as the yanks do), the real world is vastly different than the world of sports. While inequality in payroll – in baseball at least – is significant and relatively unregulated, there are attempts made to make the world a more equal place. Obviously in equality is an issue, and the question is how to fix it. Public education, wellfare, low income housing – they all strive to level the playing field (no pun intended).

    So, in the real world, inequality has been indubitably identified as bad and needing to be fixed. The world of baseball has yet to do this, and I agree with the MLB (and with you) that maybe they shouldn’t. But, to play devils advocate, other sport leagues (nba) have stricter regulations and tighter control over salary caps. Maybe the MLB should follow suit.

  5. goldman13 Says:

    While I agree that people should be allowed to spend their money in a way that will benefit them the most (as the yanks do), the real world is vastly different than the world of sports. While inequality in payroll – in baseball at least – is significant and relatively unregulated, there are attempts made to make the world a more equal place. Obviously in equality is an issue, and the question is how to fix it. Public education, wellfare, low income housing – they all strive to level the playing field (no pun intended).

    So, in the real world, inequality has been indubitably identified as bad and needing to be fixed. The world of baseball has yet to do this, and I agree with the MLB (and with you) that maybe they shouldn’t. But, to play devils advocate, other sport leagues (nba) have stricter regulations and tighter control over salary caps. Maybe the MLB should follow suit.

  6. jsimon99 Says:

    I completely agree with this entire post. Everything that was said is entirely true about our society today. Life is not fair for some people and it is unfortunate that some people aren’t born in to wealth. It is unfortunate that some people inherit their billions of dollars and that most people have to work for their money or work to survive in life. But that is the unfortunate truth about our world and our country. In terms of baseball, I really enjoyed the relationship to the New York Yankees, and even though I am a die-hard Tigers fan, I respect the Yankees and love all their players they have with their all-star team. The Yankees are on the fortunate side of life where that team was “born” into wealth, where they can pretty much do whatever they choose to do with their money. That is the way our country works sometimes where people get lucky in their life and the Yankees as an organization are lucky to have the surplus of money they have. There also should be no salary cap because the system has been in effect for ever and it is not fair to change it because teams like the Yankees are just on the lucky side of life and should not be limited to their spending.

    I also believe that the world will not change anytime soon because, with the way society works today, the top 1% of the wealthiest people are not changing their ways anytime soon. If people were in the same situation that the top 1% are in, they would not change their ways of using their money either. Yes people give to charities and help out others with a portion of their money but it is not enough to change the amount of money distributed throughout the country. In the end, life is truly about the survival of the fittest and we live in an imperfect world.

  7. Matthew Vlasic Says:

    Fantastic post. As the previous commenter did, I agree with most of what you said. The Yankees do represent America in a way and I say this even though I despise them. Even though you are pretty accurate in saying that things are generally unfair in society due to inheritances and what not, I would tend to argue that things can also be relatively fair. Capitalism is fair in the sense that those who work hard, have the talent and knowledge and get a little bit lucky, can ascend through the ranks and earn money and eventually control an industry as some have done. Capitalism is obviously not as fair as Socialism, but then again Socialism would ruin our country and drown out any incentive for anybody to work hard and achieve because everybody would be at the same level in society (which is insane in my opinion).

    The fair aspect of Capitalism is that people who are born into less fortunate situations do have the opportunity to rise above this with the right effort, hard work and initiative and they can become the mega rich because they deserve it. I think these people do have a realistic chance to make it in our world, but obviously only a few do because it is extremely difficult and those who don’t work their tails off or get a lucky here or there are weeded out from attaining these dreams. All in all, it’s all about hard work and like one of the commenters said: taking action and working hard to provide for one’s self and his or her family. Hard work is the key to achievement and even though the odds are against many, it is not a fool’s errand to work hard because good things can come from hard work in this world.

  8. lnk72792 Says:

    Interesting post. The reason why the Yankees have the ability to spend absurd amounts of money on their players if because there is no salary cap in place in the MLB. Salary caps ensure fairness for a league. These measures are instituted in leagues such as the NBA and the NFL. Choosing to not institute this is the sole reason for why the Yankees are able to spend the way they are. But, that does not mean that they will be winning every single championship, as you said. Good players do not make a good team, a good team fosters good performance. Therefore, a team should strive to be the best they can be as a whole, not as individuals – something the Yankees may need to learn.

  9. tchung22 Says:

    In some ways, the Yankees do represent America and have similarities to the 1%. They have certain advantages that no one else does. They can spend the most money and bring in the best players, giving them competitive advantages as they make the playoffs nearly every single year. Similarly, the top 1% in America has advantages of a more comfortable lifestyle. However, the Yankees also pay the most for league revenue-sharing, just as the wealthy have to pay more taxes in America. The difference between the Yankees and small ball clubs is very similar to the differences between the top 1% and the 99%.

    As for your last question, people from less fortunate backgrounds definitely have a realistic chance to make in this world. You stated that 31% of billionaires inherited their fortune, yet that leaves 69% of self-made billionaires. With some education and a great idea, anyone can become a successful entrepreneur. With a less fortunate background, it is definitely more difficult to become financially successful, but everyone has a realistic chance to make it in this world.

  10. #jasonschwartz Says:

    Interesting piece, I really like how you connect the new york yankee’s to the american reality. Its a sad truth, but the income inequality within this counrty is increaseing at alarming rates. I think that the Newe York yankee’s are the epitomy of this very issue. There is a huge problem and the government needs to address this fact. The government, which is by the people, for the people, is the one thing that you fail to bring up in your piece. The government as well as the ruling body of baseball has the ultimate power to choke off the rich and spread the wealth through all classes.
    Under a Rawlsian principle, there should be more restrictions on salary caps as well as regulations to prevent one team or one company from becomeing too “BIG”. This problem needs to be addressed and it would be great if you could include a piece about what is being done to prevent bad things like the Yankees from continuing to thrive.

  11. bmschmid Says:

    Being from New York City, I am a diehard Yankee fan through and through. I have made all of these arguments before in many contentious debates with NY Mets fans and fans of that team in Boston. However, there are certain realities in America that have not changed. In my eyes, its all about percentages. Being from New York, everyone is or was at sometime an immigrant and had to establish themselves in the cosmopolitan cultural melting pot. America is known to be the land of opportunity, especially a place like New York City. However, the people with the more resources always have a higher chance (or percentage) of succeeding (for whatever context that must apply to) than the ones that don’t. In New York, you here about immigrants fresh off the boats from Ellis Island who worked and worked until they caught a break and made it big. But what you don’t hear, is for every immigrant that came to the States and made a life for themselves, there are another hundred who tried and failed. In America, it seemed that if you always worked hard, then eventually you would work your way up to success. But lets be honest here, that’s rarely the truth.

    For example, look at the age of the Robber Barons in the last quarter of the 19th Century. There was unimaginable immigration to places like Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Italian and Jewish immigrants would coexist. During this age though, social mobility was a difficult task due to how much of the wealth was concentrated by the Rockefeller’s, Carnegie’s, and Vanderbilt’s at the time. America at the time appeared to be the land of opportunity, but in reality it was held in the hands of the few.

    I am not saying the George Steinbrenner was John Rockefeller, but what I am saying is that America has never been that ideal land of opportunity that people thought it was it to be. And the Yankees represent that unwavering status quo that lies with the rich in this country. No matter who attempts to dethrone the most resourceful, those who have the money to stay around the longest always stay at the top.

  12. #jasonschwartz Says:

    Also, I’d like to add in that a reason why the Yankees may not be a fair representation of income inequality is because of the superstar effect. The reality is that as more and more people look for jobs/(there are more baseball players) employers have now become solely focused on bringing in as much “superstar talent” as possible. Take a look at ridiculously larger wall street bonuses. We have become fixated on finding only the top 1% of people that will be superstars, and this is a huge problem that we need to change.
    Below I found an interesting piece written in the NY times about this very issue
    Enjoy!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/business/26excerpt.html?pagewanted=all

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