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Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Yankees whine about Brewers' whining


Don't you wish these guys would settle things like this with an arm-wrestling match? Or a duel?


New York Yankees president Randy Levine fired an executive-level brush-back pitch at Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio.

Levine's message: Stop whining.

Levine believes Attanasio should stop publicly lamenting the Brewers' troubles in signing first baseman Prince Fielder while pointing out how much the Yankees spend on salaries.

"I'm sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers," Levine told ESPNNewYork.com in a phone interview Tuesday morning. "We play by all the rules and there doesn't seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players.

"The question that should be asked is: Where has the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?"

The Yankees' payroll is expected to be about $200 million this year; the Brewers' will be in the $80 million range.

Levine made his comments in reaction to an Attanasio quote in a USA Today story about the average salaries of this year's players. Attanasio -- as he has done before -- made sure to mention the discrepancy in how much the Yankees spend on players in comparison to other teams.

"We're struggling to sign [Fielder] and the Yankees infield is making more than our team," Attanasio told the paper.

Where have the hundreds of millions of dollars gone? Generally speaking, they've gone to capital improvements, player salaries, bonuses for draft picks, and the two or three other items that eat the vast majority of a baseball franchise's revenues. Is Levine suggesting that the Brewers' owners are getting rich? I don't believe they are (at least not because they own the Brewers).

Roughly speaking, the Yankees play in a market with roughly 20 million people. Give the Mets half, and that's still 10 million for the Yankees. The Brewers are sitting at roughly two million, if you give them Milwaukee and a broad swath of Wisconsin. The large majority of a franchise's revenues -- before revenue sharing, anyway -- is derived from local sources. The Yankees have a huge natural advantage over the Brewers, and that's obviously true even with revenue sharing.

Randy Levine knows all of this. He might, in his heart, believe that revenue sharing is unfair. But most of our beliefs are shaped by our environment, and something tells me that if Randy Levine lived and worked in Milwaukee or Kansas City or Cincinnati, he would be the most enthusiastic supporter of revenue sharing and luxury taxes that you've ever seen in your life.