Baseball’s All-Time Notable Quotables

Willie Mays and his glove. Where triples go to die.”

That has always been one of my favorite baseball quotations. The quote and slight variations have been attributed to a variety of characters, everyone from former Los Angeles Dodgers executive Fresco Thompson to long-time Dodger announcer Vince Scully to the late Los Angeles sports columnist Jim Murray.

Who knows who said it first. Who cares. The image of Willie Mays racing across the green grass of the outfield to snare a long drive off the bat of Vic Wertz or Gil Hodges or Hank Aaron remains timeless.

That’s one of my favorite all-time baseball notable quotable. Here are 10 others, minus Yogi Berra, who gets a list all by himself.

You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”
— Roy Campanella

“Billy Martin is a mouse studying to be a rat.”
— Writer John Schulian

“Good pitching will always stop good hitting and vice-versa.”
— Casey Stengel

“I believe in the Church of Baseball.  I tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones.  I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms  and Isadora Duncan.  I know things.  For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball.  When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance.”
— Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy, written by Ron Shelton, Bull Durham

“The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then pick it up.”
— Bob Uecker

“Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing.”
— Warren Spahn

“During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times.  I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times.  You figure a ballplayer will average about 500  at bats a season.  That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.”
— Mickey Mantle

“It ain’t nothin’ till I call it. ”
— Umpire Bill Klem

“I’d rather be lucky than good.”
— Lefty Gomez

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do, I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
— Rogers Hornsby


TD Stands for Touchdown….and Turkey Day

Thanksgiving Day, one of the great American holidays, means turkey, stuffing and the Macy’s parade…and football. Not necessarily in that order.

For years  Iona Prep, would play arch-rival New Rochelle on Thanksgiving morning. The game, called the Turkey Bowl, was televised in metropolitan New York on WPIX Channel 11, with the legendary announcer Marty Glickman  calling play-by-play.

Unfortunately, Iona and New Rochelle no longer meet on the gridiron. New York state playoff schedules have forced a sad end to this rivalry, which in years past often drew crowds of 10,000 or more.

Another Westchester County T-Day match-up, Stepinac vs. White Plains, continues to this day, although the game has been moved from the Highlands to the WPHS campus.

Thanksgiving high school football remains a strong tradition in many parts of the country. Fitchburg vs. Leominster is one of the many Turkey Day rivalries staged each year in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

These twin city rivals have played since 1894 and have met 125 times, including 103 times on Thanksgiving. Fitchburg leads the overalls series 59-57 with 9 ties

College Football on Thanksgiving
On the college scene, perhaps the greatest Thanksgiving Day game of all time occurred in 1971, when No. 1 Nebraska defeated No. 2 Oklahoma, 35-31, The signature moment of that game was provided by the Huskers Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers, below right surrounded by Sooners, who fielded a punt and raced 72 yards through the OU defense for the first score of the game.

The Sporting News named that 1971 Cornhusker team the greatest team of the Twentieth Century in 1988. ESPN.com called the 1971 Nebraska Cornhusker team the greatest team of all time.

The best lead written about this Game of the Century came from noted columnist Dave Kindred, who at that time was writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal. He wrote, “They can quit playing now, they have played the perfect game.”

The longest-running college tradition is the Turkey Day Classic, a game between Alabama State University and Tuskegee University, which has been played on Thanksgiving Day annually since 1924. It is also the oldest black college football classic, since the two colleges first played in 1901.

This year on Thanksgiving, undefeated and third-ranked Texas will face long-time rival Texas A&M in College Station in the Lone Star Showdown.

Turkey Day Pros
Pre-dating the NFL, semi-pro organizations in Pennsylvania and Ohio played football on Thanksgiving as early as 1902.

In the NFL, the first owner of the Lions, G.A. Richards, started the tradition of the Thanksgiving Day game in 1934 as a gimmick. The Lions played the Chicago Bears each year on Thanksgiving through 1939, and faced the Green Bay Packers each season from 1951 through 1963.

Several other NFL teams played regularly on Thanksgiving in the past, including the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals, the Frankford Yellow Jackets, and the New York Giants, who visited crosstown rivals like the Staten Island Stapletons or Brooklyn Dodgers between 1929 and 1938.

n 1939 and 1940, during the Franksgiving controversy when President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to move the holiday for economic reasons, the only two teams to play on Thanksgiving were the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.

Beginning in 1964, the NFL began rotating Thanksgiving Day match-ups for the Lions. Four years later, the Dallas Cowboys kicked off their inaugural and annual Thanksgiving Day game by beating the Washington Redskins, 29-20.

The NFL added a third Thanksgiving game, this one a night contest, in 2006, when the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Denver Broncos. This year on Thanksgiving the Broncos will entertain the Giants.

Among the many memorable NFL Thanksgiving Day games were the 1962 contest, when the Lions handed Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers their only loss, 26-14, and the 1974 Cowboys-Redskins game in which unknown Cowboys backup quarterback Clint Longley took over for an injured Roger Staubach with the team down 16-3 and rallied them to an improbable 24-23 victory on two long passes.

And then there was the infamous Leon Lett It Be game in 1993, when Cowboys defense lineman touched a blocked field goal, giving the Dolphins a second chance and an improbable 16-14 win on a Pete Stoyanovich field goal at the gun.


Sorry Pops, Yogi Gets the Nod over Dickey

Yogi Berra, who has 10 rings and three MVPs, is the greatest Yankee catcher ever.

The other day I got into a discussion of the all-time Yankee team with my father, who  knows more about sports than anyone. Dad has seen ’em all, from Ruth to A-Rod.

For the most part, compiling a list of the best  Yankees by position is a relative cinch.

Plenty of great outfielders have worn the pinstripes, but you’d have to be crazy not to select Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

The infield is pretty much a no-brainer too — Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig at first base and Tony Lazzeri at second, and current players Derek Jeter at shortstop and Alex Rodriguez at third.

Whitey Ford would be the choice as left-hand pitcher, and Mariano Rivera as reliever. There are a whole bunch of candidates for right-hand pitcher – Jack Chesbro, Waite Hoyt, Bob Shawkey, Red Ruffing, Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, Mel Stottlemyre, Catfish Hunter, David Cone, Mike Mussina and more are at least in the conversation.

Dickey vs. Berra
When it comes to catcher, my father surprised me when he said Bill Dickey, not Yogi Berra, was the Yankees best ever.

Let’s compare, Both Dickey and Berra are Hall of Famers, and they are the only Yankees to share a retired number, #8.

Dickey, right, played for the Yankees from 1928 through 1943 and closed out his career in 1946, the same year Berra first appeared on the scene. His career batting average was .313 with 202 home runs, 1209 RBIs and 1969 hits.

Dickey hit .362 in 1936, the standard for catchers until it was equalled by Mike Piazza 61 years later and surpassed by Joe Mauer’s .365 in 2009. He was an 11-time All-Star and won seven championships.

Berra’s career for the Yankees ran from 1946 through 1963. (He had nine ABs with the Mets in 1965). Yogi has a .285 career batting average with 358 homers, 1430 RBIs and 2150 hits.

10 Rings for Yogi
Berra was an American League All-Star every year between 1948 and 1962. He has 10 World Series championships, more than any other player in baseball history.

Yogi is still the career leader in World Series games and hits, and his 12 homers rank third all-time between a couple of guys named Mantle and Ruth.

Dickey clearly has the edge in batting average, but doesn’t have the power numbers or post-season pedigree of Berra. Yogi hit at least 20 homers in 11 straight years, including 30 in 1950 and 1952. Dickey hit 20 or more four times but never hit 30.

The tiebreaker that puts Berra over the top comes in MVP consideration. Dickey never won an MVP; his best finish was second in 1938. Berra had a seven-year stretch between 1950 and 1956 where he won three MVP Awards (1951, 1954 and 1955). Berra finished second twice, third and fourth once in that stretch, one of the best MVP runs in baseball history.

Sorry Pops, but Yogi Berra gets the nod as best Yankee catcher ever.


The Sorry States of New York (And New Jersey)

Unwatchable is a good word to describe the play of teams like the Knicks.

Now that the focus has shifted from the Yankees championship run, New York metropolitan area sports fans have had a rude awakening.

The veil has been lifted, and what we’re left with is mediocrity at best, and far beyond awful at worst.

So far this month, the Yankees have more wins (three) than the Giants, Jets, Knicks and Nets combined (two).*

That’s bound to change on Saturday when the winless Nets (0-12) play the hapless Knicks (2-9) in a Jersey swamp showdown. Somebody’s gonna lose, but somebody’s gotta win too. Plenty of good seats are still available.

Here’s the sorry breakdown, sport by sport:

NFL

The Giants, picked by many to be Super Bowl contenders, started the season with five straight wins. But the Giants were facing an easy schedule, and have lost four in a row since they began taking on some real teams.

The Jets began their season with a new coach, high hopes and three straight wins. But since then they have lost five of six, including horrible losses to the Dolphins, Bills and Jaguars.

NBA

Fans are wondering, is it possible for a team to go through an entire season without a victory? Nah, the Nets still have four games left with the Knicks, they should be able to win a couple of those.

Meanwhile the Knicks have already bailed on this season. But do they really believe that LeBron, D-Wade or any other free agent would want to play for a franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1973?

NHL

The Rangers got off to a great start with seven straight wins, but then stopped scoring goals and are now in a major rut.

The Islanders…or the Icelanders as a local radio personality refers to them….have been lousy for a quarter century.

The Devils are playing well, leaders in the Atlantic Division. But hey, nobody cares. They’re from New Jersey

*Actually the Yankees have three wins in November if you count their Halloween victory over the Phillies, which ended on November 1.


Dom “The Bomb” Randolph Streaking at HC

Holy Cross QB Dominic Randolph has thrown a TD pass in 40 straight games.

The original plan was to head up to Worcester, Mass., with some of my college buddies and see the old alma mater, Holy Cross, and the great quarterback Dominic Randolph, battle Lafayette with the Patriot League title on the line.

But then the rains came. And the plans changed.

Instead this Crusader wound up at a Mass for the Sick in his hometown of White Plains, N.Y. at another alma mater — St. Bernard’s. The Bernies.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans…..In the end, it all worked out. Got closer to God, spent some quality time with my dear aunt and godmother, and the Crusaders prevailed.

Yep, Randolph passed for 348 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Holy Cross rallied to defeat Lafayette 28-26 and clinch the Patriot League championship and an automatic playoff berth.

Randolph is a stud. He’s a leading candidate for the Walter Payton Award. He’s been written up by the New York Times and the Boston Globe, among others.

He’s generating NFL interest, hardly an every day occurrence at a small school like Holy Cross. He needs a flashy nickname, like Dom “The Bomb.”

The Streak

Of all the school and FCS (football championship subdivision, formerly Division I-AA) numbers and records Randolph has accumulated, none is more impressive than this one — Dominic Randolph has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 40 straight games.

The all-time NCAA record for most consecutive games throwing a touchdown is 41 — held by Mike Reilly of Central Washington, a Division II school, from 2005–2008. Ty Detmer of Brigham Young threw a touchdown in 35 straight games for BYU between 1989 and 1991.

Randolph’s string of 40 is DiMaggio-esque in stature. Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts holds the NFL record with 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, and that record is often deemed to the statistical equivalent of Joe DiMaggo’s 56-game hitting streak. Unitas’ record has held for almost 50 years since his streak was snapped against the Los Angeles Rams in 1960.

If Randolph throws a touchdown pass in Holy Cross’ finale next week at Bucknell, and another in the Crusaders’ first playoff game, he would establish the all-time NCAA record with 42.

Randolph’s streak began innocently enough against Marist in September of 2006 when the red-shirt freshman tossed his first career touchdown in a 27-0 Holy Cross win. Few in attendance that warm Saturday evening in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., realized they were seeing the start of history in the making.

Passing Fool

The following week Randolph became a starter against Fordham and passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns. He’s been a passing fool every since.

Randolph is all about putting up big numbers. Consider the following:

  • ·· He has passed for at least 200 yards in 38 straight games
  • · He has tossed 30 touchdown passes this year and 113 in his career
  • · Earlier this year, he broke the Holy Cross and Patriot League records for career passing yards
  • · He has thrown for nearly 13,000 career yards, or nearly seven and a half miles
  • · He broke the Holy Cross career records for completions, pass attempts, touchdown passes and yards of total offense — last year
  • · His career completion percentage of .635 is the best in school history
  • · His 23 career 300-yard passing games and seven 400-yard passing games are both the most-ever by a Crusader.

All that, and he leads his team in rushing too.

Not bad for a quarterback who couldn’t crack his high-school starting lineup

And NFL scouts are taking notice. Don’t be surprised if Dominic Randolph – aka “Dom the Bomb” — winds up inext year n the “league where they play for pay.”

Update: On August 19, 2010, Randolph signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants and reported to training camp.

In four years at Holy Cross, Randolph completed 1,131 of 1,786 passes (63.3 percent) for 13,455 yards and 117 touchdowns. He owns the Holy Cross and Patriot League career records for total offense (14,240 yards), passing yards, touchdown passes, completions and pass attempts. He also set the New England collegiate record for most career passing yards, and broke the NCAA football championship subdivision records for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (42) and most consecutive games with 200 passing yards (41).


Living the Good Life with the Yankees

My first World Series memory: Yankees-Braves, Game 4, 1957, Milwaukee.

I’m a Yankee fan, from a long line of Yankee fans. My father is a Yankee fan. My family, friends, you got it. Yankee fans. Very happy Yankee fans right now.

My father saw Monte Pearson no-hit the Indians in 1938. Some 60 years later, my son, nephew, brother-in-law and I saw David Wells pitch a perfect game against the Twins.

My Dad saw some of the Yankees-Dodgers Subway Series matches of the 1950s. My son and I saw the great Yankee teams of the 1990s win three straight World Series.

I was too young to remember the climatic Yankee-Dodgers battles, when the teams met six times in a 10-year period between 1947 and 1956. Baseball memories for me began in 1957. One of the families in our neighborhood had just purchased a color TV (a real novelty in the 1950s) and I watched part  of Game Four of the Yankees-Braves World Series in living color.

Excitement at Home

Later that day, back home, my father jumped off  the coach and nearly hit his head on the ceiling when Elston Howard hit a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth to tie a game the Yankees eventually lost in extra innings.

The Yankees were practically a permanent fixture in the World Series throughout my years at St. Bernard’s grammar school. I still recall rushing home from school jin time to see Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run , right, give the Pirates a 10-9 win over the Yanks in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series. I cried that day and still cringe when thinking of Maz nearly 50 years later.

In grammar school, the nuns would occasionally let us listen to the World Series on our transistor radios. That sometimes caused problems, like when Sister Mary Consolata told us to turn off the radios as Mickey Mantle came up in a key situation against Bob Gibson and the Cardinals in 1964.

I was a sportswriter and columnist for the Fitchburg-Leominster Sentinel & Enterprise, an industrial area in north central Massachusetts, when the Yankees returned to  glory, beating the Dodgers in both 1977 and 1978.

Living in Florida

When the Yankees returned to the World Series in 1981, I was living in Fort Lauderdale, at that time the spring training home of the Bombers.  Working the sports desk at the Sun-Sentinel, I watched the Yankees fritter away a 2-0 lead and lose to the Dodgers in six games.

Fast forward 15 years to 1996, Joe Torre’s first year at the helm and the Yankees first World Championship in 18 years. The Yankees went on to four titles in five years and three in a row, from 1998 through 2000. I saw the Yankees beat the Padres in Game Two of the 1998 Series, and then win the clincher in 1999 against the Braves. I was in San Diego on a business trip when the Yankees closed out the Mets in the 2000 Subway Series.

Following disheartening losses to the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Marlins in 2003, the Yankees are back where they belong — on top of the world.

And Yankee fans are loving it. In the words of Yankee general manager Brian Cashman:  “You can call us anything you want, but you also have to call us world champions.”


World Serious: Following Facebook Thread

Some of the best sports fans I know are my colleagues and former colleagues in IBM communications. Heck, we should do live chat or perhaps sports talk radio.

Anyway, figured  you might  be interested in this thread about the 2009 World Series, Yankee resources, salary caps, and much, much more. Enjoy.

INITIAL COMMENT: Evil reigns in baseball. Money apparently buys another title. When the hell is MLB going to wake up and institute a cap? Every other major sport does it… but baseball is content to let the Yankee$ buy their way into the post-season year after year.

SPORTSLIFER: Killjoy. Don’t rain on the Yankees parade.

COMMENT: This post-season deserves a ‘roid era asterisk.

COMMENT: Well, except last year. And money hasn’t bought them a title for 9 years. I hate ’em, but I’m just sayin’. More ominous is the fact that since 1960 they have only won WS titles when there was a Democrat in the White House.

COMMENT: I love em. Go Yanks!!!

COMMENT: u guys need to get over it. Like the Bo Sox don’t spend $$$? U build a baseball team up the middle. That’s what the Yankees have done. Posada, Andy P, Jeter, Cano, Melky, Joba, and Mo are all home grown, plus others. The bitterness u taste makes our 27th even sweeter.

COMMENT :Joba? Really? You want to tell me that you won because of Joba and Melky? You haven’t come up with a decent homegrown player since the mid-90s — Posada, Jeter and Riviera all came up in what, 95/96? You won because you spent $423.5M on Sabathia, Burnett, Texiera; because you pay A-Rod $33M a year; because your payroll is $201M — $80M more than … the Red Sox, btw (14 of MLB’s 30 teams have a payroll less than $80M, btw); the second highest payroll was the Mets at $149M (another NY team, shocker!).

Delude yourself all you want, Marie Antoinette. You BOUGHT this win.

As for the Sox, it’s my opinion that they spend too much money as well. MLB needs to do what every other major sport has done: institute a salary cap and floor. Make every team play from a level playing field — everyone’s payroll is within a range from $60M to $100M. When the Yankee$ win a title by having to build from within and playing within the same confines as everyone else, I’ll credit them. Except of course that it would never happen, because the Yankee system is mediocre at best and they wouldn’t know how to win without buying everyone else’s good players.

COMMENT: All I know is that the Yankees have won for the 27 time and that makes me very happy. All the other teams are welcome to pay their players as much as they want. If their owners can’t come up with the money, that is not my problem.

COMMENT: I am not a big fan of the Yankees, but let’s be fair here. So, they buy their way to a championship. I only wish my Chicago Cubs could have a fraction of the smarts the Steinbrenner family has employed (along with the money) to build a powerhouse. I look at the Yankees as wise investors over the years. 27 championships. The Cubs? Wasted investments. Sorry, I once hated the Yankees, but no more. Why trash excellence? Cheers, my friend. : )

COMMENT: How come people want their sports to be socialist? lol

As a Yankee Fan, last night was perfect and good for baseball! As for one decent home grown player since the mid-90’s….name a better second baseman for the 2009 season than Mr. Cano (320/25HRs/85rbi’s). Enjoy the off season!

COMMENT: You want a better 2B? Two words for ya: Chase Utley. Two more words: ’nuff said.

COMMENT: Tell us how you really feel… Remember there are sensitive sports fans on Facebook. You may offend…

COMMENT:  “Excellence?” Yawn. Same trap the arrogant NY fans fall into. The Marie Antoinette “not my problem if other teams don’t have money” answer is EXACTLY why the ENTIRE COUNTRY hates the Yankees. Just say what you really mean: we’re big, we’re rich, and who cares if the rest of the country doesn’t have our money? We’ll just enjoy being … conspicuously rich.’

The Cubs’ abject ineptitude should not be used to justify a flawed system exploited by a Tsar Nicholas-level out of touch team and fan base. Baseball is BROKEN when they Yankee$ can keep buying their way to the post-season. The final four teams in the playoffs this year were #1, #6, #7 and #9 in payroll… proving that success in baseball is achieved at the bank and not on the field. (And yes, the Red Sox were #4; I’ll say again that I think it’s wrong

It’s time for a salary cap and floor — make every team operate within the same parameters, spend basically the same amount of money (within maybe a $25M range), and make FA acquisitions much more strategic and not just a shopping spree at Versace. If the Yankee$ truly are “excellent,” then this system shouldn’t hurt them… if they’re so good at developing their own players, and they really pick FAs better than other teams, then they should still excel within a leveled playing field, no? And if the Cubs are that inept, wouldn’t that just bear out in the new system?

COMMENT: All things being equal, I believe the Yankees would field a superior team. The Cubs? My favorite team would probably keep choking. As for the arrogance part, I want to defend New Yorkers and the Yankees here and this is important because it comes from someone who is a Second City native. I think you confuse arrogance with confidence, confidence … that the Yankees will excel every year. It’s the same confidence Tiger Woods displays each and every tournament he is in. He has been branded as arrogant because he plays each tournament to win. I, too, used to think it was all about the money but the fact is money does not buy the performance on the field or the culture of winning that is evident in the Yankees’ lockerroom. As a parting comment, I heard one commentator remark this morning about the Steinbrenner family. It’s worth noting. Did they break any laws? Did they do anything illegal to build this powerhouse? If so, then they should be taken to task. The answer is they accomplished what many Americans dream about: they attained their goal to be the best. Cheers!!!

COMMENT: Beautifully stated. I wasn’t always a Yankee fan. I’m late to the party….but their class, professionalism and culture of excellence finally won me over. Money doesn’t buy class….and they have more class than money. Money also doesn’t buy team work – in fact, it usually buys the opposite. The Yankees are a first class organization.

COMMENT; Well spoken. Bottom line, the Yanks won because they were the best team not because they had the highest payroll. Unlike some other teams, they reinvest the money they do make into building a winning team. What’s wrong with that?

COMMENT: the last 29 years there have been 28 World Series played. 25 different teams have played in the World Series since 1980 with 19 different winners. That’s 83% of MLB teams making it to the Series and 63% winning one.

The NHL? 13 different winners of the Stanley Cup since 1980. NBA? 14 different Super Bowl champs since 1980 — against 19 for MLB.

If you think MLB has a problem consider the NBA where 50% of NBA teams have never won a title and the 2008 NBA ‘final four’ accounted for 61% of the titles in NBA history (that number went higher last season, of course)….

If you want to adjust to a more compressed timeline, fine. Since the NFL salary cap was instituted in 1994 11 different franchises have won the Super Bowl. In that same era (with one less World Series played) 11 different franchises have won the World Series. In that same era, only 8 franchises hoisted the Stanley Cup.

Salary caps merely keep salaries lower and don’t improve necessarily competitive balance. Salary caps are socialist just like strikeouts (thanks, Crash). How are the Yankees any different than the Lakers or your cherished Red Wings? A lot different, I suppose — they have to win over a more competitive league landscape than dominant peer franchises in other major sports

Does $ keep the Yankees more consistently competitive, of course. But that’s a different argument entirely.

COMMENT: wow, I’m impressed. How do you know all of these stats?! With the way you’re furiously typing them out I’m curious to see what cramps first, your fingers or your brain. Go Indians!

COMMENT: The Red Wings have to operate under a salary cap like the rest of the NHL. How are the Lakers different than the Yankees? Well, the Yankees don’t have a rapist in their lineup, for one. 😉 But the argument goes beyond just “who won.” What percentage of the franchises in the NFL have made the playoffs since 1994? By my count, EVERY SINGLE ONE (excepting the Texans, who only came into the league a few years back). How about the NHL? Every team’s made the playoffs in the 00s — even with as bad as Phoenix and Toronto have become, it wasn’t that long ago that they hit the playoffs. Granted, more of the NHL gets to the playoffs than in MLB, but my point remains.

MLB *does* have a competitive balance problem. From 2000-2009, there were 80 playoff spots available in MLB — 40 in each league. 34 of them — 42% — were claimed by just five teams out of the 30 (16%). In the AL, 21 of the 40 were claimed by just three teams (NY, Bos, Anaheim… not coincidentally, the teams that routinely spend the most). 5 of the 14 franchises have grabbed 31 of the 40 playoff slots. 75% of the playoff berths going to 36% of the teams? more than half the AL getting to the playoffs either once or not at all in a decade? That would be the definition of competitive imbalance, especially when compared to the NFL.

Are there aberrations like the Rays every now and then? Sure. But by and large, it’s a lock: you can buy the playoffs at the bank in MLB. You may not always buy a title — but you most certainly buy sustained success. MLB needs a cap & floor. Period.

COMMENT: Let’s not call the DOJ quite yet here – but it is tough to see three enormously coveted free agents come in at once – at recession-scoffing price tags (AND a new stadium) – and then, poof, it’s a championship year. But who cares about that, really, except people who already hate on the Yankees?

I’ve been to see a couple of Yankees home games – … and my experience has never included much in the way of a ‘culture of professionalism and excellence.’ That’s kind of funny, actually. I mean, what about the way they sent Torre packing? Anyway, some of my best friends (and some of the best baseball fans i know) are Yanks fans, but en masse, holy cow this fan base can be tough to take. My fellow Mets fans aren’t a whole lot better, but Yankees fans really do, as a whole, carry a rougher tone. So maybe it’s hard to stomach that it is THEY who get to enjoy such a constant flow of the highest valued players in the game.

It’s been a while since a NY ring though – and even with top talent, the Yankees have found ways to F it up in recent years. So you can’t JUST buy it. This year they stayed pretty healthy and managed a rolling-boulder of a hot streak through most of the season. They won it, so let em have it. Congrats to the fans – even the 85% or so that I personally cannot remotely stand.

SPORTSLIFER COMMENT:  Maybe it’s me, but one thing I’ve never quite been able to understand is the anitpathy Met fans feel towards the Yankees. Heck, if a New York team was played my division rival, I’d root for New York every time….like in 1986, when this Yankee fan was pulling for the Mets to beat the Red Sox. In fact, I’d root for the Mets against anbody but the Yankees. Whatever happened to I Love New York?

Great thread BTW, I’m tempted to run these comments as a SportsLifer blog.

COMMENT: I’m not sure I understand it either. I know that I don’t want them to win. Maybe it is nature, or maybe it is nurture. Unsure. I will say that I spent a fair amount of time leading up to the series debating with friends and generally thinking about for which team I’d have to reluctantly root. Hmm – do i go with Darth Vader, or do I go … with Lex Luther? What surprised me is that it took about five seconds of watching Game One before I knew 100% that I was rooting for a Yankees loss. It definitely has something to do with the fans and the player acquisitions though. Not the payroll, per se, but more so the fact that they wind up getting the guys they want so often. The re-signing of A-Rod – after so many Yankees fans had decided they were done with him for good – was a good example of that. But I watched the whole series and spent a lot of time admiring individual Yankees players. And I think the team itself is fine. So, yeah, maybe it’s a fan thing. Or maybe I was just raised this way. In any case, I think I’d enjoy baseball less if I didn’t have the Yankees to bother me.

COMMENT: “class and professionalism?” Here’s my NY Yankee class and professionalism story – 2004 ALCS. Game 1. There’s a police officer standing in front of the railing in front of the section, watching the crowd and doing his job. The game hasn’t started yet. Remember, this is just three years after the WTC. Guy behind us, after drunkenly yelling “down in front” at the cop for five minutes, says in a stage whisper so loud that everyone in the section can hear it: “If you ask me, not enough cops died on 9/11.”

The ONLY two people in the section who turned to glare at the guy for this comment were Sox fans. All the Yankee fans laughed at it and went along with it. That’s Yankee fan class, Leigh Ann….

As for Yankee class in general… ever try to take your kid to a Yankee game? You can’t. The language and conduct by fans at Yankee games generally embarrasses truck drivers and sailors.

COMMENT: Everybody has many of ‘those fans’ stories. I could say the same for fans of every single team in every single sport. I try not to judge an entire group of people based on the tasteless actions of a few. What I saw from the players and managers of both the Yankees and the Phillies throughout the playoffs and World Series, I would say that both … are top notch organizations. I don’t know who pays how much for what, and I don’t care. I just care about a good game with good sportsmanship and teamwork…and that was on full display throughout.