Does playing for the New York Yankees still hold the prestige it once did?

Major League Baseball’s trading deadline passed last week and as usual, the New York Yankees were deep in the mix.  This time around, they acquired Kerry Wood, Austin Kearns and Lance Berkman, who is probably, yet still debatably, Hall of Fame bound by the end of his career.  For years, the Yankees have had the means to afford top talent, but recently more than ever, they have spent big money on specific players to suit their needs.  They are one of the few teams in the league able to consistently do so.

The Yankees retired number list reads like an American history book.  DiMaggio, Berra, Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig.  But so many others who have worn the very same uniform lately have become nothing more than pinstripe prostitutes for a shot at a ring and a quick paycheck.  To this day, hardcore fans still don’t consider Alex Rodriguez a true Yankee… whatever that means.

Johnny Damon played in the Bronx for four seasons, earning 13 million dollars a year, more than he got paid by any team prior to, or after, playing in New York.  Over the years, the Yankees have done the same with Carl Pavano, Xavier Nady, Randy Johnson, Bobby Abreu, Kenny Lofton, Wade Boggs, the list goes on and on.  The Yankees have become that drunk girl that gets passed around a frat party, only with slightly better benefits.  But now Kerry Wood?  Austin Kearns?  Lance Berkman?  The Yankees buy and sell players with the frequency of a day-trader buying stocks on his laptop.  No allegiance, only looking for the quick buck.

Maybe it’s just me but playing for the Yankees used to mean something.  Like playing for the Cowboys or the Celtics.  But if twenty percent of the league has donned the pinstripes at one point during their career, does being a Yankee still hold the same meaning?

The 2009 New York Yankees that won the World Series had only four players from their previous dynasty (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte) and have had a slew of others pass through their turnstile over that same time frame.

Free agency is what it is.  In a sport with no salary cap, the Yankees continue to stockpile talent on a whim, while cash-poor teams are forced to relinquish the players they’ve developed.  Of course, winning with that talent is not a given but it considerably increases one’s chances.  Ask smaller market teams if they’d enjoy that luxury.

The New York Yankees represent capitalism at its best… and worst.  I’m no Yankee fan.  I can’t tell you how hired guns like CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and the like, will be remembered in time by Yankee faithful.  But I guess that’s not important since they’ll soon have all new names to root for.

58 thoughts on “Does playing for the New York Yankees still hold the prestige it once did?

  1. Chris

    It doesn’t really hold through now as such because in large part the present roster is primarily it’s made up of high priced overpaid mercenaries . Who’ve they developed that you’d consider to be a real success in the league over the past five years ? Other than Cano there’s been no one .

    When Showalter was there, he was the one who developed the likes of Jeter , Posada and others who became the lynch pin of their recent successes and not Torre as some seem to believe.

    🙂

    tophatal ……….. 🙂

  2. Liar North…

    And we love that about you.

    But don’t you think you’re a little old to still be hanging out in frat houses?

    Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

  3. The Yanks farm system is far from what it was, Al. In fact, the Rays farm system is putting them to shame these days.

    The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that they’re still easy to root against.

  4. No sweat, Aer.

    This promises to be an entertaining end in the AL East.

    Winning the division might be key because I don’t think either team wants to play the Rangers on the road.

  5. It means something to Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and maybe Robinson Cano – all Yankees without the benefit of free agency. There is still a Yankee legacy, just surrounded much more these days by rent-a-players, many of whom carry enough baggage to tarnish the image a bit (Clemens and Rodriguez, to name a couple).

    It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can maintain any sort of legacy after this year, when tough decisions will have to be made about some of those aforementioned Yankee stalwarts.

  6. Hate to burst your bubble on here Chris, but the Yankees have more homegrown players than your darling Rays do. Sad but true.

    Jeter, Posada, Mo, Andy, Gardner, Pena, Cervelli, Robertson, Joba, Hughes, and Cano are ALL homegrown Yankees.

    That means over 40% of their roster are players from the farm.

    You really are a sports chump however.

    kthxbye

  7. I’m not a Yankee fan, but if you think the Yankees don’t produce their own talent you are a tool of these idiotic blogs like “sportschump.net” or anyone else.

    I just named 9 home grown guys on the Yankees current active roster:

    Joba Chamberlain, Chad Gaudin, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Francisco Cervelli, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Ramiro Pena, and Brett Gardner.

    Want to look at the 2009 WS class?

    Posada, Cervelli, Cano, Jeter, Gardner, Cabrera, Pettite, Chamberlain, Hughes, Rivera, Coke, Aceves, and Robinson.

    The Yankees AAA class is a bit thin besides Montero, but they have plenty of developmental talent. Have you seen the Detroit Tigers play? Some guy named Jackson is a Yankee product… Have you seen the Braves play? I think they have some guy there that’s a Yankee product in the outfield, too. Do you know why the Yankees won in 2009? In 2006 Cashman convinced The Boss to develop from within. They’ve thinned AAA out a bit, but that’s because they seem to have a good thing going on there…

    Bottom line – If you actually look at facts and not blogs written with so much bias it’s insane, then please post below. If you want to keep being a tool then don’t say a word because the previous posters have already provided enough B.S.!

  8. RayMan…

    Thanks for chiming in.

    I’m no Rays fan. I’ve just been watching a lot more of their games these days as I live in Tampa, and it appears some of their young talent is starting to make a contribution.

    The point of the piece, however, was not to talk about the farm teams.

    I’m assuming you think playing for the Yanks still has the same meaning as it did ten or twenty years ago.

  9. And here come the Yankees fans.

    Guys, again. The point of the piece was not to talk about the Yanks farm system. That discussion came from another reader’s comment.

    Nor was the piece a slam on the Yanks or the system. It is what it is.

    Look, back in the day, guys like Nettles, Randolph, Munson, these guys were Yankees for life.

    Now guys play there for two, three or four years and move on. I’m pretty sure that cannot be denied.

    Therefore, I posed the question, does wearing the pinstripes these days still hold the same meaning.

    No need to get everyone’s panties in a wad.

  10. How many other teams in the league have players on their roster from the 2000 season?

    How many team have a “previous dynasty” to even hold on to players from?

    As raymagnetic said, the Yankee’s have the highest percentage of homegrown players on their roster of any team in the league. They not only stock their own roster with high-end talent, but constantly flip top end prospects to other teams for “win now” players. Effectively twice as effective as any other teams minor league system.

    This article is embarrassing for you… but by all means, keep hating the Yankees for all of your incorrect reasons. Ignorance is bliss, apparently.

  11. If all you can do is write an article seething hate through your teeth about what it “meant” to be a Yankee 30 years ago, then obviously it still means something to be a Yankee today.

    The teams in the 50’s had just as many rent-a-players and in one year out the other guys. You can only name 4 or 5 guys that were “yankee lifers” from any era of baseball. The same number of guys that you can actually remember from the late 90’s teams.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  12. Here’s the thing …people write articles without any clue to what they are talking about.

    Just takes a few minutes to get the facts straight. How many other teams who were in the playoffs last year could boast having FOUR players still on the team that won a World Series in the 90’s..actually ..there are five guys if you count Joe Girardi who played for them too and is now the manager. As Ray says the Yankees have plenty of home grown players on the team…maybe the most of any team in the Majors at the moment. It only takes a minute or two to look up the facts. Try doing that the next time Chris. The farm is rich with pitching and catching prospects…two positions other teams covet.

    Ask CC,Tex & AJ if they don’t think it’s prestigious playing for the most famous sports franchise in the world. They get the big bucks but they love the fact they are getting the money as a NEW YORK YANKEE !!! Actually …to quote Lance Berkman when he was traded …”What player doesn’t want to play for the Yankees?”. You got that right Lance and it’s not JUST FOR THE MONEY ..Honey !!!

    Go Yankees 2010 !!!

  13. Dis…

    Good point about few teams holding onto such a solid core. Not many do, especially with the money flying around these days.

    Sure, for your homegrown talent, I’m sure wearing the Yankee uniform is a source of great pride. But what of the other near one-and-dones.

    Has that not in any way tarnished the legacy?

    Is anyone else thinking Yankees fans are being a little too sensitive?

  14. “And here come the Yankees fans.”

    Chris ..did ya think we wouldn’t ..lol. We love our Yanks !!!

    Go Yankees 2010 !!

  15. Chrs

    The Yankees have a farm system ? Here’s me thinking that was just their throwaway there !

    Noles’ Jen Sterger says that Favre sent her a pic of his “crank” . f that’s his reason for returning to the NFL what the hell will be Plax’s ? Got raped in prison ?

    Plax’s fanclub in prison . Click on link to view . We love you Plax !

    🙂

    tophatal ………… 🙂

  16. I read the title of this article and then started reading. It didn’t take to long to realize you had no intention of writing this based on anything but opinion. If you wanted to be sincere in your intent you could have gotten comments from some of the players not just writing this based on your opinion.

    Also you mix players that were traded for in with FA. If you want it to be credible get it right.

    In regards to them only having four players from the 2000 team, how many teams have more than that after a nine year period. Also if you want to be objective count all the home grown players on that team last year and realize that many of the role players were not hired guns but home grown.

  17. Wow, you got quite a battle brewing in the comment secion here. I have to say the Yankees pinstripes aren’t what they used to be. I used to hate the crap out of the Yankees, and so did most of my friends. Now, after seeing them struggle the last decade it made me somewhat indifferent on whether they won or lost the WS last year. And the fact that I wasn’t rooting against them, must mean they lost some of that luster. They are still the villian, but not at the same level they used to be.

    HAHAHA, I laugh at all the Yankee fans that think they have this amazing farm system. Is that why a lot of their trades involve lots of cash instead of the other team targeting a good prospect!?! Oh that’s right, they don’t have any. If you look at anyone’s list of best farm systems, they Yankees are nearly always in the bottom half or bottom third. I’m not even sure how this part of the conversation came up since they don’t even need a farm systems since they can buy whoever they want… The pinstripes don’t mean as much as they used to!

  18. Chris

    If all Yankees fans were that intelligent then there wouldn’t be any reason to write this piece.

    🙂

    tophatal ………. 🙂

  19. You bring up a decent point. Sure, players don’t stay with the Yankees these days as long as they used to, but that holds true with every team. As for as the allure of the Yankees, I think it still is very much there. Maybe the prestige and allure is not as clear from the outside looking in considering how MLB has evolved and how there are tons of people these days (Yankee fans included) who know nothing about the team’s history. Still, being a Yankee is still a prestigious career.

    Sure, with free agency and the state of MLB today, the Yankees will make constant adjustments to their roster. But, what’s so wrong about that? The Yankees organization is only trying to continue the winning tradition of the team by creating the best roster possible. That means that from time to time you’ll see the Yankees acquire a guy like Lance Berkman who probably won’t be in New York come 2011. Still, the prestige is there. Berkman seems to understand that being a Yankee is special, and he is just an example of many others who realize that being a Yankee is different than being a member of a less storied franchise.

    And as far as CC Sabathia goes, he is not a hired gun. The Yankees signed him as a player to build championship teams around. If he plays out his career in New York, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he becomes another Yankee legend. I know it’s way to early to say that, but it’s just not feasible to consider him a hired gun.

  20. Maine…

    You are correct.

    I had no intention of asking any of the Yankee players what it means to them to wear the uniform.

    What are they going to say? Gee, I’m really not thrilled to be a Yankee? Now excuse me while I go cash this check.

    All I intended to do with the piece was pose the question to Yankee fans and not, if it still means the same thing, still holds the same honor, to be a Yankee as it always has.

    By comparison, Shaq is now a Celtic. Has that lost its luster?

  21. Chap…

    I checked out a few Yankees blogs, not with the intention of getting a rise out of anybody, but merely to get an insider’s opinion. Clearly we now see that Yankees fans are as passionate, and possibly disillusioned, about their team as they always have been.

    As always, thanks for the support, brother. I knew you’d have my back.

  22. Chris A…

    Thanks for the well, thought-out comment. As you can see from the Bronx corner, you’re in the minority.

    You’re right, free agency has changed the sport. Teams that can afford to spend at will do so.

    BUT being a Yankee has always meant more, which is why I raised the question.

  23. Billy B…

    You’re the man, brother.

    But then again, you already knew that.

    If you had left that comment a little earlier, we might just have started WWIII.

  24. Chris

    Intelligence and Yankees’ fans in the same sentence is a misnomer !

    Rays’ loss to be expected Maddon’s whining and petulance was downright stupid ! He needs to grow a “pair” !

    tophatal ……… 🙂

  25. Chris

    Jeter’s crank has been seen by ‘nough women without it being shown on the ‘net.

    Season 3 of the Jersey Shore will be shot either in the Tampa Bay area or NYC so that Snooki can get hold of it ! ‘nough said on the subject time to move on !

    🙂

    tophatal ……….. 🙂

  26. Al…

    Did you hear Maddon come out with his “That’s why we need a new stadium” rant?

    I wonder if Rays ownership bought him a steak dinner for that.

  27. Everybody hates the YANKS…But the more they hate the more Bomber fans love it……Funny but a couple of years ago a certain team with a silly little “B” on there hat won a couple of times and I never saw so many of those hats in my life. People who don’t even know who Rice, Yaz or Fisk were. Unless you are from the the land of “CHOWDA” You don’t see people wearing them anymore. Just like the Patriots who had 25 fans in BEANTOWN. Then they get Brady and everyone started wearing there stupid jerseys. Sorry folks but there is something about putting on the Pinstripes and always will be!! OH,BY THE WAY??? WHO BEAT THAT TEAM FROM THE LAND OF CHOWDA IN THE SUPERBOWL A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, YOU REMEMBER THE TEAM THAT WAS 18-0!!!11

  28. So speaks King Yankee.

    I happen to know for a fact that NYSPORTSRULE once slept with a New York Post headline that showed a dejected Derek Jeter losing to the Red Sox in 2004.

    EXPOSED!!!

  29. Ok…

    For all you miffed Yankees fans who complained about a lack of facts and too much opinion in the piece, try this on for size.

    Since 2001, the last year the Yankees failed to win the World Series prior to 2009, here are some of the players New York acquired and the amount of seasons they played there.

    David Justice – 2
    Mark Wohlers – 1
    Jason Giambi – 7
    Robin Ventura – 2
    Raul Mondesi – 2
    Bubba Trammell – 1
    Tony Clark – 1
    Gary Sheffield – 3
    Kenny Lofton – 1
    Tom Gordon – 2
    Kevin Brown – 2
    Matt Lawton – 1`
    Randy Johnson – 2
    Carl Pavano – 3
    Jaret Wright – 2
    Johnny Damon – 4
    Sidney Ponson – 2
    Xavier Nady – 2
    Ivan Rodriguez – 1
    Richie Sexson – 1
    Eric Hinske – 1
    Lance Berkman – 1 and counting
    Kerry Wood – 1 and counting

    These are ALL high-profile players who are better known for wearing ANOTHER uniform over their careers yet still wore the pinstripes for a brief moment in time.

    Is it still an honor to play in Yankee Stadium? Of course it is. I never said it wasn’t.

    The question once again is with all these comings and goings, does it still hold the same meaning it once did.

    I’m still waiting for just ONE Yankee fan to at least slightly agree.

    It’s okay, people. It doesn’t make you any less of a Yankee fan to do so.

  30. Yeesh…I didn’t realize Yanks fans were so sensitive. Reminds me of a Lakers Fan’s response when Kobe Bryant or Phil Jackson aren’t called the Best Player & Best Coach in the history of basketball.

  31. Good analogy, Drew.

    I remember in my Fox days, if you wrote an inflammatory post about Kobe, that meant war.

    Can you say ‘ManCrush?’ I knew that you could.

  32. Well put, JQ.

    Don’t tell anyone up in New York you know the guy that wrote this article.

    They might come after you with lead pipes… not that they don’t already.

  33. Boggs came to the Yanks because he knew he would never win one in BOSTON, no Yankees fan ever wanted him or Clemens.

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  35. Effie… I’m not quite sure what that means, but thanks for commenting.

    SPT…. If I’m ever in Sydney, I’ll be sure to do that, as long as we can grab a few drinks after the workout.

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