Home Local Sports “MATTer of Opinion” Sports Column: The Evil Empire Strikes Back

“MATTer of Opinion” Sports Column: The Evil Empire Strikes Back

Sports columnist Matt Harrelson.


After finally having huge contracts such as Alex Rodriguez’s finally come off their books, I thought the New York Yankees were trying to get away from having a $200 million payroll and finally develop some talent from within. 

Well, there goes that.

On Monday, former Miami Marlin and reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton stood up in front of the press in Orlando during the ongoing Winter Meetings to officially become a member of the Bronx Bombers.

And you can bet that’s exactly what they’ll be next season seeing as how they now own the top two home run hitters in Major League Baseball; Aaron Judge being the other. The two combined for 111 home runs in 2017, or only 17 less than the San Fransisco Giants had as a team. By the way, the Giants also tried to trade for Stanton, but he vetoed that with his no-trade clause.

So now the Yankees are possibly on the hook for $295 million unless Stanton decides to opt out of the contract after the 2020 season, but why would he do that? Frankly, why would anybody do that? Stanton owns the largest contract in all of sports, not just baseball. 

And yes, by 2020, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will have become free agents so $300 million might not look as large after that, but let’s remember that Stanton hasn’t exactly been healthy his whole career.

And between he and Judge, the Yankees are sure to lead the world in strikeouts – probably by a lot. But I have to say, the Yankees definitely got better on Monday, and I’m sure will now be one of the front runners to win next year’s World Series. Just think – the hot stove is just not heating up. Hal Steinbrenner could decide to ditch his efforts of building from within all together and imitate his father George.

Then, the Evil Empire really will be back.

TRIVIA TIME: At 6’5″ and 233 pounds, you bet that Stanton would have made a fearsome wide receiver or tight end. The slugger was offered football scholarships from which two schools? Answer below.


The newest rankings came out for the still young college basketball season on Monday, and one thing that didn’t surprise me was seeing six ACC teams in the top 25, including three in the top seven.

Florida State came in at No. 19 after beating Florida to start last week, and then picked up a few more wins to stay undefeated at 9-0. Right in front of them is Notre Dame, who beat high-ranked Wichita State, but then lost to Ball State, which knocked them out of the top 10. Also in the teens is Virginia, who now sits at No. 16 after losing to rival West Virginia.


Inside the top ten we have North Carolina at seven with their only loss coming to Michigan State on a neutral court in what was supposed to be a down year. They’ll face Tennessee in Knoxville on Sunday in what should be a tough test for the Tar Heels.

Miami is ranked right in front of UNC at No. 6, but much like their football counterparts, the Hurricanes haven’t really played anybody as of yet. Their best win so far was against Minnesota, which doesn’t look as great right now.

And finally, sitting at No. 4 is Duke, who was previously number one in the country before losing to Boston College last week. At 11-1, and with wins over Michigan State, Texas and Florida (all on neutral courts), the Blue Devils currently look like the cream of the class in the ACC. Having Marvin Bagley III doesn’t hurt either.

Just as it is every year, conference play will be very tough, and I don’t expect any team to come out unscathed.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Stanton, who is from California, was offered football scholarships from UNLV and UCLA before he choose to pursue baseball.

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