Big-spending Yankees once again get best of rival Bosox

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Monday, February 16th, 2004 will be a date that many baseball historians either praise or bash for years to come.
   It was a day the New York Yankees laid the smackdown, again, on their biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox.
   This time, the Yankees trumped the Sox by adding 2003 Major League MVP Alex Rodriguez to their new lineup, which includes four contracts exceeding $100 million dollars.
   It was a deal Boston tried to make, but couldn't.
   A-Rod, formerly of the Seattle Mariners and most recently the Texas Rangers, became the first current MVP to be traded. A player, who some consider to be the greatest shortstop to ever play the game, will move to third base.
   Yanks owner George Steinbrenner continued to spend his dollars. The Boss wants to win, and according to this past weekend's deal, he will win at any cost.
   On a bad note, New York is single-handedly making it hard for teams in smaller markets such as the Cincinnati Reds, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and even the Minnesota Twins compete for prized players.
   And with this deal, they kind of make it hard for the second-most costly team in the Red Sox, who still have a very talented line-up with a strong bullpen that could easily beat the Yanks.
   However, Boston owner John Henry made statements earlier this week in which he called for a salary cap.
   I will admit, it would be great to see Major League Baseball implement a salary cap, but with all that money flowing up north, even in Henry's Boston wallet, it won't happen for awhile.
   People talked about the Los Angeles Lakers "buying" an NBA Championship with the acquisitions of Karl Malone and Gary Payton in the off-season.
   With an infield consisting of A-Rod, Derek Jeter (multi-time All-Star, Jason Giambi (former MVP) and catcher Jorge Posada (arguably at the top of the American League), a proven outfield lineup of hitters in Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and either Kenny Lofton or Bernie Williams, the Yanks look like an almost definite champion on paper when you figure in a solid bullpen and decent starting rotation on the mound.
   Trades like this is why people across the board hate the Yankees, and it all goes back to the big Babe Ruth deal with Boston many years ago. The Yankees have an attitude and people, particularly in the south, hate the Bronx Bombers.
   I have been a Yankee fan since I was very young, and will admit it doesn't bother me that the unit has multiple all-stars in one lineup.
   But one thing people across the country and even Yankee fans have seen and can't deny is greed within their top tier management, which even talked of getting rid of legendary manager Joe Torre last season.
   The Yanks have won three World Series titles in the past 10 years, but things are much different between the Yankee teams with a young Jeter and veteran Wade Boggs, and the New York teams in the last three seasons.
   I like tradition. I like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson and Mattingly. I like the Yanks winning World Series crowns.
   I like an owner doing everything in his power to win, to an extent, which includes giving millions of dollars to other major league teams.
   Wouldn't you if your team was able to acquire all this talent?
   As a fan, I won't argue with the trade, because it's a smart move and the team's really not spending that much on Rodriguez with the Rangers money thrown into the mix. I won't argue with the fact that another pennant may be in store.
   But look out Yanks, everybody else in the majors continues to have that target on you. You may have the best team money can buy, but it won't guarantee rings.
   Need not forget, the last two teams to win a World Series crown haven't spent nearly as much and the trend may continue.
   But as long as Boston doesn't win, I'll be happy.