Friday, December 12, 2008

Big Man, Big City

Before I start, I want to thank everyone who e-mailed me or sent me a message of some sort when I decided to take a break from the blog. It was nice to hear at least a few of you enjoy this little corner of the blogoverse.

As always your comments, positive or negative, are always welcome. So thanks for the support. Now, on with the show...

Big Man, Big City

I can't say that I'm surprised or even disappointed that C.C. Sabathia decided to sign with the New York Yankees. To be honest, it seemed like a foregone conclusion despite the talk that the hefty lefty might take his considerable talent back home to the Bay Area and the San Francisco Giants.

But for a brief moment, despite what Giants' GM Brian Sabean might say, a rotation led by Sabathia and reigning NL Cy Young Tim Lincecum not only seemed possible, it seemed destined to be.

All along we knew the Yankees were not going to be outbid, but all along we were told that Sabathia was just as interested in pitching in the NL and staying close to his native Vallejo, CA. It seemed then that the perfect fit was in San Francisco where new ownership had given Sabean the financial flexibility to make an offer.

That offer never came and just days before he was set to meet with the Giants, Yankees' GM Brian Cashman swooped in and tossed an extra year and $21 million more into the pot. Not to mention an opt-out clause after three years.

So fine, Sabathia is a Yankee and apparently at least one more big name starter like A.J. Burnett, Jake Peavy or Derek Lowe will join him. Red Sox fans are praying for Mark Teixeira and the Giants have seemingly turned their attention to 500-year-old Randy Johnson, another Bay Area native.

But what bugs me about this whole thing is the lingering feeling I have that, while a ridiculously sound financial decision, the decision to sign with the Yankees was not totally up to the player himself.

Now I'm not talking about his wife, who was apparently a driving force the whole time, or even his agent who probably had the easiest sell-job on the planet when it came to getting his client signed.

No, I'm talking about the Major League Baseball Player's Association and the report that the MLBPA may have been actively encouraging Sabathia to sign with the Yankees and set a new bar when it comes to salaries for pitchers. That way more starters could conceivably demand more money and effectively raise the minimum wage for free agents across the board.

The thought that perhaps Sabathia was shoved in the direction of the Bronx by the Player's Association is not only unethical in my opinion, it seems wrong and more than a little sleazy. We live in a world right now that is seeing major financial collapse the likes of which we haven't seen in generations and the union is trying to drive the prices up? What the hell is that?

Now far be it for me to blame a player like Sabathia for taking that kind of money if someone is going to offer it. In fact you could argue he'd be foolish not to. And if the Yankees want to spend in what can only be described as an irresponsible manner then that's on them.

But for a guy like Sabathia, who has openly maintained that he'd like to play closer to home, to eschew a meeting with a team as close to his home as possible was more than a bit suspect. Perhaps the extra money and years was the tipping point, but I obviously have my doubts about that.

Baseball-wise he's gotten everything he probably hoped for. A giant contract to play for the biggest team on the biggest stage with a chance to win right now. But you have to wonder at what cost to his overall happiness will those opportunities come and was the decision ultimately made for him?

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