Thursday, March 31, 2005

Money Talks ... Make Steinbrenner Sweat

I've got it. It hit me last night and I've been thinking about it ever since. The answer of all answers. I was thinking about how it ticks me off that George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees can afford a payroll of over $183 million and the next closest two teams are the Red Sox who are just over $125 million and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or whatever they're being called these days) at almost $102 million. I have the answer to fix the problem of salary imbalance in baseball and it can't go wrong.

How do you get a payroll of $185 million dollars? You get a REALLY rich person to buy your favorite Major League Baseball team. I'm not talking about some run-of-the-mill multi-millionaire that lives on the other side of town from you - I'm talking about the people who make it into Forbes Magazine for being the richest people on this Earth.

My hatred of the Evil Empire made me log onto Forbes' web page to see who I could get to buy teams close to where they live. I was amazed how many matches I could find that have the financial backing to bring this game back to an even level. I'm sure the Players Association and Donald Fehr wouldn't mind if these people bought these teams.

Let's start with the Milwaukee Brewers, who have the lowest payroll in baseball at just $27.5 million. Milwaukee isn't that bad of a place to live and play, is it? Robin Yount apparently loved it - he played his entire 20-year Hall of Fame career there. They've got a great ballpark and the fans are crazy about the Packers, so maybe they'd get behind the new and improved baseball team.And let's think about playing there if you were making some serious money. Money that Mr. Samuel Curtis Johnson (S.C. Johnson & Son) might supply after he buys the Brew-crew. Mr. Johnson is worth $7.4 billion, so I'm guessing he might be able to buy the team at a few hundred million and would then be able to go dollar-for-dollar with any free agent George covets.

We move on to another team that needs some major funding, the Pittsburgh Pirates. What a shame that baseball's money has taken such a great franchise and turned it into a place where young talent develops and moves on and old guys finish their careers. The Pirates won two World Series in the 1970s and had such a great team in the early 1990s and now they have one of the nicest new ballparks in the game (I've been there). Mr. Henry Lea Hillman, with his $2.8 billion, could change that! He could quadruple the Pirates' $40.2 million payroll and make the Steel City a powerhouse again.

The Montreal Expos are no more and, frankly, living in Washington, D.C., I couldn't be happier. But that leaves just the Toronto Blue Jays in the cold country north of us. What better time then now for Kenneth Thomson & Family of Toronto, Canada, to buy the Jays? According to Forbes, the family is worth $17.2 billion. Buy the team, hire Blue Jays' icon Joe Carter to manage them and you've got them back to where they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A country is relying on you.

Echo Star owner Mr. Charles Ergen could make the Colorado Rockies the best place on the planet to play in the 1.2 seconds it will take him to sign his name on his check. C'mon Chuck. You would be a hero to that entire region forever. You live in Denver and every potential free agent would love your city with its mile-high air and the fact that the ball flies off bats like a corked Sammy Sosa "practice" bat. Mr. Ergen is worth $8.9 billion and would be lauded as the Father of the Rockies for eternity.

With a name like Micky Arison, you've gotta love baseball! Mr. Arison made money from the cruise industry and lives in Bal Harbour, Fla., not far from where the Florida Marlins currently play. He currently owns the Miami Heat - so I'm not going to ask him to break the bank on the Marlins' payroll. Buy the team with your $4.4 billion and buy them a new stadium and get the payroll up and I promise that every player in the league would think strongly about playing in that warm South Florida weather. The cruise ship industry has never looked so good.

We're not sure why the richest man in the world hasn't bought his hometown Mariners yet. Bill Gates is worth $46 billion and frequently goes to Seattle games. Yes, they have a respectable payroll at $78.4 million, but they would never have a problem luring free agents to the great North West again. Do it Bill - I'd love to see Steinbrenner's face.

Oracle's own Lawrence Joseph Ellison lives right near Oakland in Redwood Shores, Calif. "Billy Ball" would be instantly turned into "Larry Ball" and his $18 billion would provide a much-needed new stadium and would certainly keep his young talent from leaving the other team by the Bay.

William Alfred Cook is worth $3.1 billion from a bunch of medical devices and lives in Bloomington, Ind., not far from Cincinnati. The Reds' $42.7 million payroll would be a drop in the bucket. And besides, he's used to stopping pain, isn't he?

Richard Schulze made himself $2.8 billion rich with BestBuy. The state of Minnesota would love it if he stepped up and got the Twins out of the garbage stadium that they play in and kept the young talent around with a nice payroll. Please Richie, please.

Each member of the Walton Family is worth $20.5 billion EACH. Buy the Kansas City Royals and bring back a great team. They were once a team to be reckoned with when George Brett played his Hall of Fame career there; they can be again, with an infusion of cash.

Ty Warner 8 is worth $6 billion and he's from Chicago - you laughed at those Beanie Babies when they first came out, huh? Take your pick, pal. I'd say the White Sox, but the Cubs' Nation wants the money, too. I'll let you decide.

We still have the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians, along with several other teams that could use the cash to become more competitive.

Calling all members of Forbes Richest People list: Help destroy the Evil Empire and make George Steinbrenner go ballistic on his entire staff. The game would be so much better if every team was on an even playing field again and the Yankees weren't allowed to buy their way into the playoffs every year.


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