Baseball is better when the Yankees are feared.
The Bronx Bombers just got a lot scarier. News broke late last night that the club signed right-handed fireballing ace Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million megadeal. They had been in hot pursuit of Cole for weeks, and Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Washington Nationals was likely the last domino that needed to fall for the Cole sweepstakes to finally come to an end. The Angels and Dodgers were the rumored second and third place suitors for Cole, but in the end, the Yankees were not to be denied. They got their man.
Cole is the type of durable ace that the Yankees have lacked since the golden years of CC Sabathia. MLB Network’s Dan Plesac often dubs this breed of starting pitcher as the “Horse’s Ace” – the type of arm that can pound 99 MPH on his 100th pitch.
Cole embodies this brand of elite pitcher, among the likes of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Cole’s contract will likely be worth nearly every penny because, like Verlander and Scherzer, the Yankees believe that he will be able to maintain his electric fastball into his late-thirties.
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However, the possibility of paying an aging Cole in the late 2020s is not the concern of the New York Yankees. They are all-in on the immediate future, looking for their twenty-eighth championship.
Many loathe the Yankees for their seemingly arrogant mentality, but they have certainly earned it. They can act as if they are better than every other team simply because they are. The Yankees are winners, and they represent everything – history, passion, and pride – that makes baseball great.
No other Major League team gets the intense national press coverage that the Yankees do. Other big-market clubs, such as the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs, may come close, but the Yankees have always been, and will continue to be, the most talked-about baseball team in the world.
Sometimes talking is all that matters. Major League Baseball craves the type of publicity that the NFL and NBA generate, and the Yankees are the only facet of the game that is even in the same ballpark of popularity as some of the teams from these other sports. The Yankees winning or even appearing in a World Series would result in TV ratings for the Fall Classic significantly better than what the league has seen in recent years. Even the topic of the Yankees as title favorites helps increase the watchability of MLB’s product for the upcoming 2020 season, as casual fans look to get a look at the world-beating Yankees they have heard so much about. For baseball, it all boils down to the bottom line. The Yankees are a brand, and big names draw in cash. Money talks. It certainly did for Gerrit Cole.
Baseball is better when the Yankees are its bully. The villain role is one that the Bombers are familiar with, and it should be easy now for the rest of the nation to see them as such.