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Lack of competition may be good for the Yankees, but it’s bad for baseball

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Teams intentionally being bad is good for the Yankees, but it’s hurting the sport.

Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners
One day I’ll find that eagle again
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Yankees have missed the playoffs four times in the last twenty years. Some people would call this an incredible feat. I know I would. Mind you, they have only won a meager four World Series championships in that span. As a Yankee fan, only being able to count World Series rings on one hand during a 20-year time frame is a travesty. It just shows they’re not really trying to win. Let me clarify that if you agree with those last few sentences, there’s something very wrong with you.

A lot of fans might not agree with this statement, but here it is: the fact that the Yankees have only missed the playoffs four times in the last twenty years is one of the most impressive feats in sports history.

Stuff happens throughout the years. Season-altering injuries take place. Teams go through windows of being able to compete and having to retool. Not every team can constantly be “in it to win it” and so forth. The Yankees, nearly every season, are. This has been accomplished through a series of fortunate moves, trades, C.R.E.A.M., and a bit of baseball luck. Regardless of what you attribute it to, the Yankees are a franchise that is always built to win. Or at the very least, they’re always built to try and win.

Trying is important. Perhaps it’s the most important thing. Sports are competitive and fun. I enjoy when the Yankees face good teams because I want the Yankees to beat good teams. I do not enjoy when the Yankees face teams like the Orioles or Royals. Facing bad teams isn’t as fun. Beating them isn’t as gratifying, and it’s frustrating to lose to them. There’s too much of that in baseball today and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve next year.

The Yankees recently got James Paxton from Seattle because the Mariners look like they are going back to the drawing board. Last night, the Mets got Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners. With these two trades, the Mariners have overhauled their farm. Cool. Maybe they’ll be competitive again in another three years. Until then, just another team for others to wallop on.

Cleveland is potentially trading away their star pitchers, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. The Yankees are rumored to be looking at Kluber, because why wouldn’t they be? Sure, they may get Patrick Corbin, but if Kluber is really available, they should at least kick the tires. The sad thing about this is that Cleveland will likely win the division anyway, unless the Twins or the White Sox step their game up. The Tigers and Royals are not going anywhere.

Giancarlo Stanton is a New York Yankee because the Miami Marlins decided to tear it all down to the studs. Again. Stanton wanted the Marlins to try and go for it. Derek Jeter and friends wanted to spend their time erasing the stain of Jeffrey Loria from the organization. Stanton wanted no part of another rebuild, which is why he only wanted a trade to a contending team. The Yankees are pretty much always contending. It was a perfect match.

Who can blame Stanton for not wanting to be a part of a constant rebuilding cycle? Players want to compete. Players play to win. That’s the point. Watching baseball teams aim for the bottom is awful, all for the promise that maybe, perhaps, someday they’ll be good again. Only one group of people win when it comes to that, and it’s the owners. The owners always win.

Back in the late-nineties, during a certain dynasty you may have heard about, plenty of Yankee fans were upset about the concept of revenue sharing. Some still might be. The idea that the Yankees and other big-market teams would subsidize smaller market teams was infuriating. My take on revenue sharing is and always has been, that it was cool as long as the teams were actually putting that money towards building a competitive team. If they weren’t, what was the point?

It’s understood that not every team can be good. Not every team has the market of the Yankees or Dodgers or Red Sox. But to watch teams just intentionally saddle their fanbase with the promise of under-.500 seasons is infuriating as a baseball fan. This is hurting baseball far more than pace-of-play issues.

This is why it’s good and exciting to see the Brewers go for it this year. It appears that the Mets, yes THOSE Mets, are looking to make a play for the NL East. It’s still early in the offseason and the winter meetings are fast approaching. It would just really be nice to see more teams actively try to win. Unless they want the Yankees to reap the benefits of their ineptitude.