Even in 2018, as the proliferation of media sources reaches an all-time high, we still must judge a man only by his actions and not by our assumptions.
If an errant social media post from the past (or the present) shows someone's true colors, we should believe them.
Similarly, if someone tells you every offseason how they plan to behave, we must believe them, instead of ascribing unearned noblesse to their actions.
Every single offseason, Hal Steinbrenner has told Yankee fans that getting under the luxury tax is his top priority, but not to worry, for he plans to exceed it when the time is right in 2018. Now that it's 2018, and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are available, every single Yankee executive's statement still reads like a chintzy excuse and defense of building a championship team under the luxury tax.
"We can build a title team under the tax," is a fine idea, Mr. Cashman, but you drastically increase your chances of doing so if you go over. And you know that. Gee, who's the one holding your wings back?
Randy Levine said today that his understanding is that Hal Steinbrenner sees the $206m luxury tax threshold as high enough to build a championship, but that the Steinbrenners are committed to building a championship team.— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) December 4, 2018
Forgive me for being pessimistic, but what about the Yankees offseason thus far has suggested they're willing to budge from their grand fiscally-conservative plan?
Patrick Corbin got a year more than they wanted to offer and far more money. Well, that's alright, we can pass. Onto Nathan Eovaldi! And, well, he got four years from the Red Sox, we chose not to offer more than three. Guess it's J.A. Happ! Until the Phillies go three, and we stay two. Hello, Luis Cessa!
Somehow, the worst part is how certain fans have been sold on it. Still think the Patrick Corbin deal is "insane" and the Yankees "dodged a bullet"? Well, it is insane, but they certainly need to get pitching somewhere. Do you have any faith that there's a strategy in place? And giving someone five years and $100 million (and never even formally offering it!) isn't being outbid. It's being embarrassed.
Hearing Yankees never made official 5-year, $100M offer to Corbin. Told him they’d be comfortable w/ 4 or 5 years for $17M to $20M per year. So $100M was floated. When Corbin said he was seeking “Darvish money,” NY didn’t make offer. We will discuss on Hot Stove on YES at 7.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 6, 2018
Why would any self-respecting fan ever decry a major free agent signing as "bad" when the team's overall budget is astronomical? You're basically just rooting for billionaire owners to keep more money in their pockets. A bad baseball contract can always be absorbed by the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. If a player is failing, some team trying to take a chance will come in and scoop him up, as long as you eat the money. All mistakes can be minimized.
How long will it be before we kick the can further down the road, nodding in unison as Hal Steinbrenner assures us that Manny Machado and Bryce Harper don't fit with the ethos, and the Yankees would be much better off signing Nolan Arenado next season?
Then, once next season comes around, Hal Steinbrenner is halfway to Tijuana with a suitcase overflowing with dollar bills.
I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee fan, and I have no interest in rooting for the New York Luxury Taxes. If Steinbrenner green lights a move, fantastic. Until then, I have every reason to be wary he'll ever produce a satisfying plan.
Of course, the real horror is a few years down the road: what happens when the luxury tax threshold approaches, and the team still must extend Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and Gleyber Torres?
None of this feels right. All of this feels inevitable.