The New York Yankees are arguably the most prestigious and well-known team in Major League Baseball. They also are, inarguably, the most valuable franchise in the sport. The team is valued at $6 billion, per Forbes, making it one of the most valuable franchises in professional sports.
Despite that, the team makes its players pay for in-flight Wi-Fi.
The Yankees are one of two MLB teams that engage in that tactic, according to Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated. The other team is the Cincinnati Reds.
In the grand scheme of things, this is pretty small potatoes. Sure, it's embarrassing that the Yankees refuse to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi, considering how much money the team spends elsewhere. The cost of a one-year, in-flight Wi-Fi plan is roughly $40,000, "about the price of four [Gerrit] Cole pitches," as Apstein put it.
Players who spoke to Apstein had mixed opinions on the policy. Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner reportedly joked about it, telling Cole the team couldn't afford in-flight Wi-Fi due to his salary. Former Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon said he refused to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi with the team "on principle," though he pointed out that the Yankees provide other amenities on flights, such as poker tables.
Non-Yankees couldn't believe the policy existed. Philadelphia Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs refused to believe it was true. Miami Marlins outfielder Jazz Chisholm laughed out loud. Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh had perhaps the best response, lamenting that Yankees players not only have to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi but also have to "shave their face" when they join the team.
At the same time, baseball players aren't exactly hurting for money. Five players on the Yankees will make more than $20 million in 2023. They can afford to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi, a point Yankees general manager Brian Cashman echoed in Apstein's piece. Coaches and other staffers are allowed to expense in-flight Wi-Fi, it should be noted, though it's unclear if Cashman is included in that group.
Yankees players aren't asking for sympathy, and ultimately, we're talking about the occasional $10 charge. But when one of the biggest financial juggernauts in the sport is being outspent by the likes of the Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays, it's difficult to ignore the Yankees sticking with such a policy.