One of the best scenes in the "The Sting" comes when Lonnegan, the mark, gets to the window but is shut out from placing a bet. The horse race unfolds and, doggone it, Lonnegan (played by Robert Shaw on the right) watches red-faced as his would-be horse wins. Too bad for him.
A version of the "shutout" might be unfolding for the New York Yankees — baseball's Doyle Lonnegan — in free agency.
You can almost see the dominoes starting to fall. The Yanks aren't going to get any of the high-rent free agents they want or, more accurately, need. It's not collusion, it's not quite like "The Sting," where the Bad Guy was set up on purpose, but they will be shut out.
It starts with Sabathia, who obviously doesn't want to play for the Yankees, no matter how much money they pony up. His first choice is somewhere on the West Coast but, as our own Tim Brown writes, if the Angels don't offer and the Dodgers don't offer and even the Giants don't offer, CC might have to look harder at the Brewers offer of $100 million over five years. If it becomes $120 million over six, he's going back to Wisconsin.
The Braves pulled a surprise today by jumping on Burnett (who was a Yankees backup plan) given their recent acquisition of Javier Vazquez, but it also makes sense seeing as John Smoltz can't lead the rotation anymore. It also pulls another rug out from under the Bomber, who might have to then settle for someone like Jon Garland.
There are dissenting opinions; Newday's Ken Davidoff says that CC going to the Yankees is inevitable because of the money, but the opposite will be true — $100 million is already so much money, another $20 million won't buy CC the peace of mind he'd lack in New York.
So, the guy with the most money to spend can't do it because nobody wants to take it.
Too bad, really.