Does The Boss Belong in the Hall?
by Eddie Mayrose
As talk of George Steinbrenner’s possible induction into the Hall of Fame swirled around Old Timer’s day at Yankee Stadium, I was asked by Cheap Seater Jim Case if the late Steinbrenner had been good for baseball. A difficult question to answer, no matter how you felt about The Boss during his reign in the Bronx. While most Yankeee fans are sure to point to the many championships won since Steinbrenner bought the franchise in 1973, his detractors make note of the mockery he made of the pinstripes with his endless firings of managers and pitching coaches as well as two suspensions that resulted from a felony conviction and an extortion attempt. However, almost all will use the phrase, “George just wants to win.”
The thing I always found interesting about the “just wants to win” theory is that the Yankees never, EVER, won a title when the impetuous Boss had the final say about the roster. His first championships were won under the watchful eye of GM Gabe Paul, who threatened to quit whenever Steinbrenner insisted on a ridiculous player move. When Paul had had enough, he resigned, leaving the reins in George’s hands and the fans with a drought that would last eighteen years.
In 1990, after King George’s lifetime suspension (later reduced to three years), Gene Michael was allowed the free hand necessary to build a champion. Six years later, after astute scouting and even sharper trades, the Bombers were on top again; remaining there for four of the next five seasons. See if you can find a Yankee fan that experienced Steinbrenner’s 1980′s sideshow who believes Messrs. Posada, Rivera, Pettite and Jeter would all have made it to the Bronx had the Boss been in charge. He’d have traded at least one for an aging designated hitter and probably two before they’d made the majors.
The fact is, anyone in sports is “all about winning.” Very few, however, hide behind the philosophy to dismiss their petulant and criminal behavior. Steinbrenner is the only owner in the history of the game to be suspended TWICE. The Yankee Pride he so often referred to was significantly diminished during his time as principal owner but his actions always drew interest from fans throughout baseball. Fans may have come to the ballpark just to boo the Bombers; but they came to the ballpark. He was the first to establish his own cable network, putting money in the pockets of the owners that followed suit but taking free, televised baseball from the very fans to whom he often claimed his devotion.
So, to answer Mr. Case, Steinbrenner was too often a bad guy to have been good for Major League Baseball but, through the interest he generated, Baseball did benefit from his presence. As for the ridiculous notion that he belongs in Cooperstown, I have my own question: If Georege Steinbrenner is inducted into the Hall of Fame, what do we tell Pete Rose?
Are Jets Fans Ready For Some Blacked Out Home Games?
Heard an ad for New York Jets’ tickets on the radio the other day, generously proclaiming that prices in the new Jets-Giants stadium have been reduced by as much as fifty percent. This came on the heels of an invitation I recently received from Gang Green to tour the new facility, even though I gave up my season tickets in 1987. Now, I’m hardly a marketing genius, but it seems to me that the Personal Seat Licensing extortion may not be going as well as planned.
LeBron Misses Opportunity For Greatness
I know it’s a business. I know LeBron James had every right to pick his own spot. And It just would’ve been great, this one time, to see an athlete care less about himself and more about the people affected by his decision. James, an Ohio native, has lived among friends and neighbors that have struggled financially throughout his life. He’s well aware that his decision to leave will result in the loss of jobs in and around Quicken Loans Arena. For him to have stood up and said, “I can’t leave; too much depends on me remaining in Cleveland,” I’d be writing instead about one of the greatest role models in the history of sports. Instead, as was his privilege, James decided to split, dishonoring his time with the Cavs by orchestrating a dog and pony show that only served to rub salt in the wounds. Sure, he’s a hero now in Miami but he’d have been a legend in Cleveland and, as Babe Ruth put it to Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in The Sandlot: “Heroes get remembered, kid. But legends never die.”