New York Yankees
ControversyThe Yankees are a notable team not only for their impressive history on the field, but also for their financial situation. The current ownership spends more on player salaries than any other franchise in baseball. As of 2005, the team payroll is more than $208 million, which is $85 million more than the second-highest team, the Red Sox, and more than the five lowest-payroll teams combined . Frustrated after being outbid for pitcher Jose Contreras prior to the 2003 season, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino even went so far as to dub the Yankees the "Evil Empire," a characterization that is primarily popular among Red Sox fans.
It is a heated debate whether the Yankees' free-spending is positive or negative for baseball, and whether a strict salary cap would make the sport fairer and increase parity among the large-market and small-market teams. The following are arguments for and against these spending practices:
* The Yankees are "America's Team." They give the casual, or "bandwagon," baseball fan someone to root for when he/she does not have a local favorite.
* As "America's Team" the Yankees give other baseball fans a team to "hate" or root against, thereby further generating interest in baseball games involving the Yankees and baseball in general.
* New York, as the largest market with the highest revenues, should spend in accordance with their vast resources. It has also been argued that the New York Mets, because they share the same market, could spend at a higher level if their owner was inclined to do so, and therefore the Yankees spending reflects Steinbrenner's greater commitment to winning rather than a singular advantage over all other teams.
* The Yankees drive attendance, merchandise sales and TV revenues, helping to subsidize less-profitable teams.
* In a free-market society, an owner who wishes to spend as much as he/she wants should not be restricted from doing so.
* Allowing one team to bid highly for the best talent makes it more difficult for lower-spending teams (primarily in smaller metropolitan areas) to compete.
* The willingness of the Yankees to pay premium prices for top talent encourages players and their agents to demand unreasonably high prices, further diluting talent throughout the rest of the league. This phenomenon even causes the Yankees to announce their intentions not to pursue certain free agents (e.g. Manny Ramírez, Pedro Martínez), who might otherwise freely use the potentiality as a bargaining chip.
* American football's example of balanced salaries, correlated with its now-massive parity and mainstream impact, demonstrates that keeping athletic salaries fair is good for the sport and therefore everyone - TV outlets, owners, fans.
In 2003, the Office of Foreign Assets Control reported that the Yankees engaged in illegal trade with Cuba and had to settle with the United States government for US$75,000
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