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Recession? What Recession?

sabathia.jpgI’d been planning to write a post about Liam wanting zinnia-flowered pajamas, but that’s going to have to wait until I’m done ranting about the Yankees.

The Yankees announced today that CC Sabathia, a 6′ 7″pitcher, accepted their offer of $161 million dollars for seven years. That’s $23 milliion per year, or, to think even more concretely, it’s about 300,000 dollars per inch. He’s a big guy.

The new Yankee stadium, the one with more than forty-five luxury suites, may cost the NYC taxpayers upwards of $450 MILLION dollars. That’s a big number, so let me put it in context:  those of us who live in the city – many of whom, believe it or not, could give the proverbial rat’s ass about baseball – will be forking over $450 million dollars for this new fancy-shmancy stadium; CC Sabathia will be getting 23 million of that 450, and my son’s public elementary school just had $50,000 chopped from its budget.

Hmm. 

Oh, and let’s not forget the MLB tax shelters, designed for teams that are financing new stadiums: this tax shelter allows teams to hide revenue that would otherwise be taxed at 31%. (For more about the Yankee business model, follow this link).

Am I being unsophisticated in my rage at the thought that a sports team thinks it justifiable to wave such gargantuan sums of money around at a time when people’s lives are imploding, when schools are being closed or are so crowded they’re holding classes in hallways and trailers, when the jobless rate is at a fifteen-year high (533,000 jobs lost in November alone)?

A 2001 study done about the cost of constructing new public schools estimated that a new school could cost as little as $8,483,937…should we think about how many schools could be built – or renovated – with just one year of CC’s salary?

Wait – let’s not penalize the big guy; it’s not his fault that the Yankees have waved this mammoth paycheck under his nose. Hell, if they offered it to me, I’d take it too. Let’s think about what we could do as a city with $450 million dollars; or with the $70 million tax-exempt subsidies the Yankees were given for building parking garages; or even with the paltry $850,000 that one of the new luxury suites will cost.

Seems to me that “Governor” (using the term very loosely) Blagojevich, for all his disgusting crassness and possible insanity, simply did in the open what usually gets done covertly, under the capacious umbrella of ‘”good for business.” The Yankees threatened to leave town if the city (led at the time by that paragon, Rudy Giuliani) didn’t meet the team’s extortionate demands – and the city caved. Isn’t that quite literally “pay to play,” which is a lot like saying “pay me for a Senate seat”?

Oh sure, I know, the Yankees contribute to the tax base and it’s good for morale and there’s, you know, all that tradition and honor and sportsmanship – to which I say faugh! Seems to me there would be more honor in offering money to build new schools, not new parking garages; or in figuring out how to bring more jobs (not as hot-dog vendors and beer pourers, thanks) to the Bronx; seems to me that the only tradition that the Yankees are upholding at the moment is that grand American tradition of screwing everyone else in pursuit of The Big Win.

Hope CC puts his money under the mattress and not in a 401(k).

 

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