Now that the Yankees appear set in their ways to avoid paying free agent superstars, it’s time to move on. I said in my piece last Friday that I plan to be petty towards the Yankees’ front office and the New York sports media if the season doesn’t work. I meant every word.
Spring training has begun, however, and it’s time to move forward and root root root for the home team. If they don’t win, it will indeed be a shame. And I was ready to move on — I really was. Then I saw a section of the vaunted New York sports media talk about one specific point last weekend: that it’s time for Yankees fans to move on from George Steinbrenner.
I just can’t, folks. I’m so tired. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll probably write about this again, but here goes. Ahem…
THE BEST THING GEORGE STEINBRENNER EVER DID FOR THE YANKEES WAS GET HIMSELF SUSPENDED SO THAT HE COULD NOT INTERFERE WITH THE DAILY OPERATIONS OF THE TEAM!
That is what built the dynasty team of the 90’s. Not George Steinbrenner, but the lack of George Steinbrenner. You want a dynasty formula? Here’s the best one:
Steinbrenner Money – Steinbrenner Interference = RINGS
I explained this idea four years ago when I wrote about Hal and Hank Steinbrenner vs. The Boss regarding their methods of running a team. Since I’m in no way modest, I’ll admit that it’s one of the few articles I’m particularly proud of. This was back when the Steinbrenner boys would not go all in on Yoan Moncada. The fan base was up in arms about them being cheap and the serious, non-ironic “If the Boss were here…” comments kept flowing in.
If you don’t want to read my old work, I understand. My feelings won’t get hurt. I brought it up, however, because I want to get a few points across. The first is that despite that fact that I want the Yankees to spend, I do not want George Steinbrenner back in charge of the Yankees. To understand why, simply read the earlier caps-locked sentence. The second is that I do not mind when the Steinbrenner brothers do not go all-in on unproven talent. It’s when they don’t go all-in on proven talent that ticks me off a bit.
The third point is the most important one. Yankees fans had a familiarity with Uncle George’s method of ownership, the tried-and-true “win now at any cost” mantra. His sons do not share that philosophy and, let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that. The real problem back in 2015 is that we had no idea what the Steinbrenner plan was. Five years later, the plan has come into focus, and it does not paint a pretty picture.
Instead of “win now at any cost” it’s more “try to win at a reasonable rate.” The second slogan makes more business sense. Baseball is a business after all. Other teams do this. But they cannot have it both ways. If they’re going to go with the second mantra, fine. Just don’t patronize us. I would say don’t take fans for idiots, but they’ve convinced so many of them that staying under the luxury tax matters, so yeah. I still cannot wrap my brain around that madness.
One thing I do understand is that the sports media is helping to fuel all of this.
The ridiculous idea that Yankees fans are longing for the Boss to be back prompted this rant. That’s not it at all. Fans only stopped hating George Steinbrenner after the dynasty era, the period when the team started winning.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the often underappreciated 1999 Yankees. After the dynasty era, the Boss proved humble enough to let the people do the work for him, with a sprinkle of Uncle George mixed in here and there. It came nowhere near the hated levels of 80’s Steinbrenner. Do I have to post the George Costanza clip again?
I didn’t have to, but I’ll take any excuse to share that scene.
The fans aren’t longing for The Boss to be back. Okay, some are, but the “If the Boss were here...” crowd was never to be taken seriously. What they want is a clear picture that their team will always go all-in to try and win.
Despite all of George Steinbrenner’s many faults, he was always willing to spend. He wanted to win, no matter what. The suspension humbled him enough to make him take a step back and it was the absolute best. Steinbrenner money without Steinbrenner meddling. His sons have not learned that lesson and probably never will, unless they’re stupid enough to get themselves suspended. Personally, I doubt MLB or the MLBPA would have the stones to even attempt that anymore.
If you are on the side that the Yankees don’t need the current superstars available on the free market, fine. At this point, it doesn’t matter, because the Yankees have moved on. But this has been a pattern for the better part of a decade. When the next ace pitcher becomes available, I have no faith that the Steinbrenners will go all-in for them. When Aaron Judge hits free agency, after his probable “team friendly” extension, I have no faith that the Steinbrenners will reward him in his later years, even if he does lead the Yankees on another fabled dynasty run.
If the Yankees’ front office and the New York sports media want us to just ignore this fact, they can go bunt themselves. The Boss spent stupid money in order to win because he had stupid money to spend. His sons do as well; they just don’t want to shell out.
It’s been ten years since the last parade down the Canyon of Heroes, celebrating a championship won on the backs of superstars available for just cash — something the Yankees have in abundance. You want fans to believe that this new young Steinbrenner method will work? Prove it. Until then, don’t whine and complain when people rightfully call them out.
Bottom line, if they want us to come to terms that the acceptable era of George Steinbrenner-style ownership is over, then they better deliver the only bunting thing that ended the hated era of George Steinbrenner-style ownership: a World Series championship.