Baseball’s landscape is changing as I type this. Yeah, it’s been twenty years or so since the economic gap between the haves and the have-nots grew wider than the Grand Canyon, but these days it’s getting even worse. True, Baseball has a luxury tax, but it’s soft enough to basically be disregarded by the Yankees or anyone else who spends enough to trigger it and even if they do, trust me, they’ve got the cash to cover it.
For all practical purposes, the true big market juggernauts are basically being handed a license to print (and spend) money, what with the gargantuan new TV contracts they are signing. You see, in the tumultous, ever-changing Television ratings landscape, Sports are currently considered the surest bet around. The Dodgers are counting on a new TV deal that will net them billions of dollars over the next twenty years. Why else do you think the team had to literally be ripped from Frank McCourt’s hands? He knew that TV money was going to make all his pain go away. All these teams, the Yankees, the Red Sox and a handful of other big market clubs, are fixin’ to get flithy rich. Or richer, as it were. Even the middle of the road teams will be seeing a TV windfall. Pretty much everyone but the smallest fish will be cashing in, even if their haul will pale in comparison to what LA and New York will see.
So here’s the thing about the monster trade the Dodgers pulled off this weekend. Yeah, they spent a shitload of money. Over 260 million in guaranteed money is owed to Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. Really, that’s five times what the Padres will spend on their entire team this year.
So what though. It’s only money, baby. What’s a bad contract to a team with unlimited resources? This is the new S.O.P. for the deep-pocketed. Spend now, worry later. The Phillies broke the bank to put together a Cy Young-worthy starting rotation, and when the team fell apart in a mess of injuries and bad luck this year, they ditched some payroll at the trade deadline and by the time next year rolls around, they’ll have some more to burn. Shit, look at what The Red Sox just pulled off. Every contract they’ve given out in the last three years has reached up and bit them in the ass, yet somehow, someway, they managed to crawl out from under that mess without breaking stride.
That’s the new deal. Spend now, worry later.
Shit done changed. This deal isn’t bad for the Dodgers at all. In fact, it’s great, and it might be even greater if Crawford bounces back from Tommy John surgery. Point is, don’t worry about the money. The Dodgers aren’t, so why should you? The new equation for grading deals basically works like this:
Did we improve the team?
Seriously, that’s it. Albert Pujols wasn’t a bad deal for the Angels because he makes the team better and they had the money to spend. Even better, Albert is worth more to them in marketing and merchandizing than they could ever pay him. Same here, really. Bottom line is, Adrian Gonzalez is light years better than James Loney has been at first base. If Crawford bounces back, the Dodgers might just end up with the best outfield in the game. Yeah, Beckett might be shot, but he’s still an experienced pitcher with a big time playoff reputation and those guys don’t exactly grow on trees. If he can’t be effective or worse, if he becomes the headache he was in Boston, the Dodgers can buy out the last two years of his deal and be done with it. If he can bounce back, they’ve got themselves a guy who can be a real difference maker in the postseason.
So the Dodgers didn’t just get better, they landed a superstar past the trade deadline, something that almost never happens in any sport, and now they’ve got a good chance to push past the Giants and into the playoffs and after that who knows?
This is the new reality. You can’t win if you don’t play, which in this case is all about whether you can afford to. The Dodgers can. So they did.
They win. Trust me.