With the Yankees safely on the road to the postseason (a 98 percent shot of getting there, according to Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report) the Voice this week takes a look at the team’s two big-money issues: The $1.3 billion stadium project it’s building in the Bronx’s Macombs Dam Park, and the $250 million third-base project named Alex Rodriguez.
Allen Barra investigates why A-Rod has become the player Yankee fans (and tabloid headline writers) love to hate, despite being one of the best players in baseball history–and a Washington Heights-born Dominican-American with good manners and movie-star looks to boot. Is it because he became a star while in an enemy uniform? (So did Reggie Jackson.) Because he can’t hit in the clutch? (His postseason stats are better than Joe Dimaggio’s.) Or because at $25 million a year, as BP’s Nate Silver puts it, “Babe Ruth would have been overpaid”?
Meanwhile, I take another look at how the Yanks billed city taxpayers for millions in front-office expenses, including the salaries of several of George Steinbrenner’s relatives and the fees for attorneys who drew up the sweetheart lease in the first place. City comptroller William Thompson knew about the dubious charges, but never called attention to them in public; meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg bargained away a chance to recoup “stadium planning” costs from the Mets and Yanks when he redid Rudy Giuliani’s original stadium deals–effectively adding an extra $46 million to the two stadiums’ cost to taxpayers.
So for A-Rod and the new stadium project—Bronx cheers or the regular kind?