A.J. Burnett of the New York Yankees reacts against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Two of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
The A.J. Burnett deal is done and appears to be a good one for both sides... except in the view of one particular writer.
According to ESPN New York, the A.J. Burnett trade from the Yankees to the Pirates is complete:
Burnett passed a physical and the commissioner's office signed off on the deal, sources said Sunday.
But wait! Richard Griffin, a sportswriter in Toronto -- a city that isn't New York or Pittsburgh -- thinks the trade should have been voided by the commissioner's office. And why is this?
It’s great for the Pirates because they are not a real contender and now have a short-term starting ace who won’t get attached and be looking for something awkward — like, say, an extension. It’s great for the Yankees because now they can add in other areas and win it all again.
No risk for the Yankees and plenty of reward.
Something doesn’t make sense.
Hold on just a moment here. So as I understand it, this is a good deal for both teams and so... it should be voided?
But wait, there's more:
The commissioner’s office should consider how that bad Burnett contract impacted other similar free agents in the winter of 2008-09 and the next off-season and how it had a negative trickle down effect that hurt small market teams like Pittsburgh.
Translation: the Yankees overpaid three years ago and it hurt the Pirates, so because this deal might help the Pirates now, it should be voided.
I can't make any sense of this. Can you? There's one more reason Griffin gives:
36 years ago, cantankerous, contrarian A’s owner, Charles O. Finley had reacted pre-emptively to free agency with a fire-sale of all-stars, shipping soon-to-be-free outfielder Joe Rudi and closer Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox and lefty Vida Blue to the Yankees for cash totalling under $2 million (U.S).
And Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided that deal. In my opinion, Kuhn did baseball a grave disservice with that ruling. Finley was doing exactly what former A's owner Connie Mack had done decades before -- break up a winning team, then build a new one. With all the money he'd have received from those deals -- and $2 million was a lot of money in baseball in 1976 -- Finley could have done it again; instead, the players left via free agency and Finley, under the rules of the time, got nothing.
Griffin seems to think this was OK, too. What a strange piece of sportswriting.