Rich get incredibly richer

The Rangers owner not only enriches the Yankees with the game's best player, but pays them for it!

Originally Published: February 15, 2004
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

And in related baseball news, the Yankees were just given the rights to Ted Williams' frozen head.

Buck Showalter,  Alex Rodriguez and Tom Hicks
United they once sat (from left): Showalter, Rodriguez and team owner Tom Hicks.

On behalf of everyone in the league, let me give Rangers owner Tom Hicks a big Bronx cheer for dealing Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees. There are eight kinds of idiots in the world but you just won the crown, Tommy. You are going to pay the Yankees $67 million to put the league's best player in their lineup.

I don't get it. Every team professes to hate the Yankees, complaining that their vast riches allow them to buy up every player in the game and that they are the ruin of everything good and decent in baseball. So why do so many teams insist on strengthening their roster?

The Blue Jays traded them Roger Clemens the winter after he won the Cy Young. Last July the Reds handed them their All-Star third baseman, Aaron Boone. A couple months ago, the Dodgers tossed them Kevin Brown, who was 14-9 with a 2.36 ERA last year, for Jeff Weaver, who was 7-9 with a 5.99 ERA. And now Hicks is forking over the best player in the league just when the Yankees were poised to fall under the No. 4 subway train.

New York had lost three starters from last year's rotation. Boone screwed up his knee and was out for the season. The defense was a complete disaster. Joe Torre is in the last year of his contract. Jason Giambi is playing on a bad knee. Brown is guaranteed to be on the disabled list by May. George Steinbrenner had a fainting spell.

But now, here comes Cap'n A-Rod to improve the defense and give them the best lineup in the game.

No, this trade doesn't guarantee the Yankees a championship. A-Rod does not heal Giambi's knee. He does not heal Brown's back or Tom Gordon's arm. He does not improve Gary Sheffield's fielding. The pitching staff could fall apart and the entire team could implode under the incredible pressure to win.

But for the moment, the Yankees look awfully good.

Plus, any minute now, Clemens and Andy Pettitte will announce that they want to go back to New York.

And baseball has Hicks to thank. He's the one who was so desperate to get out of the $252 million contract that he was willing to trade his best player to the Yankees, who, last time I checked, play in the same league as his Rangers. This is like in "Barbershop" where Ice Cube makes so many bad investments and gives away so many free haircuts that he has to go to the neighborhood pimp to bail him out.

Rangers general manager John Hart says this trade gives Texas more financial flexibility, by which I can only assume he means it gives Hicks flexibility to waste more money on other insane contracts that he'll eventually have to peddle off to the Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are about ready to kill themselves. The Yankee whose home run beat them in Game 7 of the playoffs is being replaced by the best player in the league. And deep down they know that not only did they set this whole process in motion, they could have traded for A-Rod themselves if they had only opened their wallets a little wider.

The people for whom I feel the most sympathy, however, are the Rangers players. They were sooooo looking forward to following Cap'n A-Rod's leadership and dedication to Texas this season. Why, in an attempt to raise club morale, Cap'n A-Rod had already declared that Fridays would be casual days in the Texas clubhouse this season.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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