"To hell with newspapermen. You can buy them with a steak."
Which I mention because David Waldstein of the New York Times ended 2012 with a blog post so void of journalistic integrity that it made me wonder if he was trying to curry favor with Hal Steinbrenner in order to get a cushy position on YES. Perhaps that is unfair - perhaps this merely reveals Waldstein as a lazy and incompetent journalist - but the post carries so much water for Hal Steinbrenner that one has to wonder.
The post began with a barrage of interesting facts, excerpted below:
"As of Dec. 31, 2012, the Yankees’ payroll was right at the targeted threshold of $189 million....the Yankees have contractual commitments to 14 players worth $189,475,000....it doesn’t include technically unsigned players like Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova and Clay Rapada, who are under the Yankees’ control....Once the Yankees come to agreements with those players, the payroll will rise, but it won’t affect their seemingly ironclad plan to be under $189 million for 2014."
I expected Waldstein was leading up to an analysis of what the Yankee roster might look like with such a payroll. Otherwise, why waste the reader's time mentioning this number?
However...well, let's describe the ways in which Mr. Waldstein seemed to use the New York Times as part of Hal Steinbrenner's PR operation.
First, Waldstein used loaded language to describe the luxury tax rate considerations. In the following quote, note how he uses the word "soar" to describe a potential tax rate raise of 10%, and "plummet" to describe a potential rate decrease of 22.5%:
"If the Yankees are over the $189 million mark for 2014, their luxury tax rate would soar to 50 percent (they are currently at 40 percent). If they are below it, the rate would plummet to 17.5 percent."
The misleading nature of this language becomes apparent when you look at the actual dollars. To illustrate, let's extrapolate the 2012 payroll to the 2014 rates. In 2012, the Yankee payroll was assessed at $225 million. Applying the 2014 cap of $189 million, the Yankees would be $36 million over the cap. The following table shows what the Yankees would pay at these 3 rates:
Waldstein then further calls his journalistic integrity into question with this statement:
"the rate would plummet to 17.5 percent, and that could translate into potential savings of $50 million."
This is just bullshit. As we've just seen, the amount due to the luxury tax rate considerations is a fraction of $50 million!
The potential for $50 million in revenue instead has to due with a messed-up scam straight out of The Producers, which I've described here. The luxury tax rate is merely a red herring: the Yankees want fans to believe the rate is the issue. When journalists such as Waldstein fail to point out the real issue, they are merely functioning as Yankee PR.
Waldstein then closed his piece with the following editorial comment, which is what made me wonder if his purpose was to butter up Hal Steinbrenner:
"the Yankees have paid $224.2 million in luxury tax over the last decade. And people wonder why Steinbrenner wants to avoid paying even more."
The reason this is a silly statement is because amounts without context are meaningless. Yes, the Yankees have led the league in luxury tax payments. However, the Yankees also have blown away the rest of the league in terms of revenues. This is why the Yankees are the most valued property in baseball; Forbes estimates their value at $1.85 billion. And this is in addition to the value of YES, which is around $3 billion. This is a testimony to George Steinbrenner's obsession with winning, which Yankee fans have richly rewarded by attending and watching the games.
That is why many observers "wonder why Steinbrenner wants to avoid paying even more." In financial terms, I believe the correct term for what Steinbrenner is trying to do is "killing the goose that laid the golden egg."