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Steinbrenner shortchanged once again

There are a lot of things money can't buy.

Can't buy me love, according to the Beatles.

Can't buy peace of mind, or so we're told.

Can't buy happiness, or so we're consoled.

Oh, and it can't buy a World Series championship.

The New York Yankees — "The Best Team Money Can Buy" — have tried and failed to buy a title. For the fourth straight year, they're not going to the World Series.

And aren't you happy about that?

The rich can buy almost everything they want in this world, but at least not that.

Cost of one long-haired outfielder pilfered from the archrival Red Sox: $13 million a year.

Cost of a future Hall of Fame pitcher for a half-season of work and six victories in 12 decisions: $18 million.

Cost of a synthetically built designated hitter with an admitted steroid history: $23 million.

Cost of an All-Star shortstop: $21 million.

Cost of an All-Star third baseman who disappears in the postseason: $23 million this year, $252 million total.

Cost to field one baseball team in the Big Apple for one year: $220 million

Cost of a World Series championship: Priceless.

The results of The Great Experiment are in. The experiment, of course, was this: Can you spend unlimited amounts of cash to buy the best players in the world — from Japan to Boston — and win a championship?

The Yankees have had baseball's biggest payroll for years, and it isn't even close. This season's payroll has been estimated from $200 million to $220 million — or about double the payroll of 23 of baseball's other 29 teams.

Since the 2000 season, they have spent about $1.3 billion on player salaries and haven't won a World Series. They have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for three straight seasons.

Meanwhile, the Rockies, who spent about $54 million on player salaries this season, according to USA Today, are going to the World Series, for about a quarter of the price. The Indians ($62 million) and Red Sox ($143 million) are the other remaining contenders.

In some ways, the results of this experiment don't make sense. How do the Yankees field the greatest collection of players in the game for the last seven years — Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte, Kenny Lofton, Hideki Matsui, Mariano Rivera, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Bernie Williams, Orlando Hernandez — and fail to win a World Series?

It should be simple. All Joe Torre has to do is roll out the ball bag and tell the boys what time to show up for practice.

Apparently, there is more to it than that. The intangibles are more important than we thought. Things like esprit de corps, team chemistry, camaraderie, hard work, dedication, determination — all those old-fashioned values.

Where would sports be if anyone with money to spare could win a title simply by outspending everyone else, by luring other teams' stars to their team with their cash?

Where would sports be if there was such a formula for Instant Championship Team — just add money, stir and, presto, break out the champagne.

For a time, that seemed to be the case. The Yankees won four of five world championships from 1996-2000, but they haven't won since. Each year the Yankees' payroll was almost double that of the team that won the title, hovering around $200 million the last few years.

The last six World Series have been won by the Diamondbacks ($86 million), Angels ($62 million), Marlins ($49 million), Red Sox ($127 million), White Sox ($75 million) and Cardinals ($89 million).

The New York Knicks have tried to do the same thing in the NBA — their league-leading $117 million payroll last season was almost double the payroll of the Utah Jazz. The Jazz advanced to the Western Conference Finals; the Knicks didn't make the playoffs.

At least for now, it takes a lot more than a wealthy owner to win a team championship.