Tag: George Steinbrenner

Why Not Even George Steinbrenner Could Rescue This New York Yankees Team

This is a preemptive article. I don’t know when the next “What would George Steinbrenner do?” lamentation is going to come. Or why, for that matter.

What I do know is that we certainly haven’t heard the end of these lamentations. I also know that the question itself is all wrong. It’s not what The Boss would do.

No, with these New York Yankees, it’s what The Boss could do. What could he possibly do to rescue this Yankees team from the peril it’s facing?

Not much. The 2013 Yankees are in rough shape heading into the season, but the sort of rescue they need is the kind that even The Boss wouldn’t be able to help them with.

If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say that the next “What would George do?” lamentation is going to have something to do with Derek Jeter. The longtime Yankees shortstop is aiming to be in the lineup on Opening Day, but his recovery from a fractured ankle suffered in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers isn’t going too smoothly.

Yanks general manager Brian Cashman admitted this week that Jeter could start the season on the disabled list.

“I just can’t rule it out,” said Cashman, via MLB.com. “We’ve got to do what’s right for him. Whatever is right for him, it will be right for us.”

If Jeter is forced to start the season on the DL, he’ll join Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and now Phil Hughes (Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has the latest on him) on the list of prominent and well-paid Yankees who won’t be there on Opening Day.

The injuries would render the lineup, in particular, much less scary than usual. Without A-Rod, Jeter, Granderson or Teixeira, the Yankees would field a starting nine consisting of spare parts, little home run power and even less star power. It will look nothing like a typical Yankees lineup.

And if it happens, somebody’s bound to ask: “What would George do?”

My money would be on Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who asked the question in November after the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off their big trade with the Miami Marlins. More recently, he pondered what The Boss would have thought of Cashman‘s recent play to lure Chipper Jones out of retirement. Sherman hasn’t forgotten how The Boss used to run things, and he’s not alone there.

Beyond ranting and raving at the increasingly dire state of his team, The Boss wouldn’t have much to do in response to Jeter starting the year on the DL alongside A-Rod, Granderson and Teixeira. It’s not like he would have many options available. In fact, he could really only…


What could The Boss do to help the Yankees these days? Go out and acquire a new shortstop? And while he’s at it, a new center fielder and first baseman?

From where, exactly?

At this point in the spring, the free-agent market couldn’t be more barren. The list of available shortstops consists of guys like Jason Bartlett and Wilson Valdez. The list of available center fielders has only Scott Podsednik and Grady Sizemore, whose health is still a wreck.

The Yankees have already consulted the list of first basemen, and it was ugly enough to make them turn to a pair of retirees: Derrek Lee and Jones. They both said thanks, but no thanks.

The only free agent worth mentioning still looking for work is Kyle Lohse. The Boss probably would be interested in him after all that’s happened to the Yankees this spring, but I presume that even he would understand that signing Lohse wouldn’t solve what ails the Yankees. Lohse can’t hit home runs, after all, and he had an ERA near 5.00 as an American Leaguer earlier in his career to boot.

With the free-agent market all dried up, The Boss would be forced to turn to the trade market to try to rescue the Yankees. And to this end, no prospect in the Yankees farm system would be safe. They would all be bait for potential high-profile trades. Anything to solve this mess, really.

Going this route, however, could do more harm than good.

There are deals the Yankees can make that would help them put their boat upright heading into 2013. Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has been suggested as a possible stand-in for Teixeira if his wrist injury costs him the year.

The Twins are only going to give Morneau up for prospects, according to David Waldstein of The New York Times, but that wouldn’t have concerned The Boss. He’d only care about the fact that he’d be adding a star-caliber player to a team in need of one.

But even if that deal were to be completed, he would still have to ask himself a question: Is one star player really all this Yankees team needs?

Of course not. The Yankees lost two stars over the winter when Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano left as free agents, and they let a darn good player in Russell Martin walk as well. To replace these players, the Yankees loaded up on spare parts. They went into spring training weaker than usual, and they’ve only gotten weaker since, thanks to the dastardly injury bug.

As such, the Yankees wouldn’t be in good shape until several high-profile trades were made, each of which would leave the team’s farm system drier and drier. Even then, there would still be a problem.

We can discuss trades all day long, but the fact is that no amount of trades is going to fix the fundamental problem that this Yankees team is facing: It’s old.

As in, older than usual. The aches and pains the Yankees have experienced in recent months aren’t a dose of bad luck. They’re a dose of reality, and reality isn’t likely to leave the Yankees alone once the season gets under way. If Steinbrenner were here, he couldn’t make the players age backward.

And there’s a pretty major dilemma. The Yankees’ championship hopes aren’t totally doomed, but the age factor is the biggest reason their championship window is closing very rapidly. Giving the roster a boost via trades would only succeed in delaying the inevitable. Making the Yankees better in the short term isn’t going to erase the fact that they absolutely must get younger for the long term.

For that, they need a strong farm system. ESPN’s Keith Law thinks they have one now, and guys like Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams are generally seen to have bright futures.

Good. The Yankees are going to need them, and whatever other top prospects they can get their hands on. A return to the club’s roots is in order.

The Yankees understood the value of player development when Gene Michael and Cashman were running the show back in the 1990s. Guys like Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera all graduated to the majors and became stars, and the Yankees used their financial might to make sure they were always surrounded by quality veteran players.

These many years later, it’s easy to forget that the Yankees forged their dynasty from within and augmented it from without, not the other way around.

The train didn’t go off the rails until after the Yankees lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. That’s when they kicked up their superstar collection efforts, and Buster Olney noted in The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty (pages 319-320) that The Boss was the one who made it happen. After the loss to the D-Backs, Olney wrote that Steinbrenner “reverted to his old habits.”

Those habits resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars spent on payroll, few top prospects graduating to the majors and only one World Series in 2009. That’s a relatively small payoff for so much effort and money.

More and more each year, the Yankees are really feeling the “few top prospects graduating” part. The Yankees have been able to get by all this time because they’ve always had a strong core of talented players centered around Jeter who, while maybe not young, were at least still in their primes. That’s not the case anymore.

The Yankees have one player who’s still in the prime of his prime, and that’s Robinson Cano. Take one look at the bodies around him on the Yankees roster, and it’s never been more clear that the club is going to need a new core to build around in the very near future.

The Yankees have one of those growing down below, and it shouldn’t be sacrificed to prop up a major league roster that would still have issues anyway.

If Steinbrenner were still alive and still at the controls of the Yankees, the smart thing for him would be to do what the Yankees are already doing. You can rest assured that Hal Steinbrenner, Cashman and the rest of the club’s suits have their doubts, but they’re not being hasty. 

They know they have no free-agent options, and they know that they can’t fix what ails the club through trades without compromising the team’s long-term future. Given the circumstances, they can either go all in on the 2013 Yankees or take their chances with what they’ve got and wait patiently for a brighter future to arrive.

We remember The Boss as a guy who would have done things differently. We remember him as a guy who would have been all for the all-in approach. Rightfully so, given his rep back in the day.

It’s the other half of that rep that needs to be considered whenever somebody asks what George would do. He was aggressive and relentless, but he wasn’t always right.


If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter. 

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Are They Becoming the New York Yankees of the West?

Just over one year ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers were a team on the verge of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  On May 1, 2012, the team’s fortunes changed dramatically as the Guggenheim group, fronted by Magic Johnson, purchased the team for an astounding $2.15 billion.  Under this new ownership, the Dodgers have become big spenders in a hurry.

In just two months, the Dodgers have acquired a group of big-name stars, including Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.  With the acquisition of those last three players alone, the Dodgers taken on a quarter of a billion dollars in contracts from the Boston Red Sox, a team intent on a salary purge.

However, these moves should come as no surprise, since the Dodgers are under new ownership that expects a cash windfall for local TV rights.  The current deal expires at the conclusion of the 2013 season.  Estimates are that a new deal with Fox could yield $4 billion.  Thus, the team has gone from frugality to big spending seemingly overnight.

Of course, investing large sums of money in top free agents is no guarantee of victory.  The Red Sox, perennial contenders during the first decade of the 2000s, have consistently ranked among the top three in MLB payroll for years.  Still, Boston has not won a playoff game since 2008 and won’t make the postseason this year.  The Yankees, who annually spend more than any other team, have won the World Series—the only measure of success in the Bronx—just one time in the past decade. 

Recently, the Yankees have talked about fiscal prudence, and say they aim to cut payroll in order to avoid the luxury tax imposed on clubs that exceed a salary of $178 million.  Both New York and Boston seem to be looking at the success models of AL East rivals Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, who have fielded competitive teams despite having two of the lowest payrolls in the majors.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, there is an arms race, albeit in different leagues.  The Angels inked a 20-year local TV contract with Fox Sports last December worth more than $3 billion.  The infusion of cash allowed the team to invest more than $300 million in Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson

Following the Frank McCourt era, in which the team was cash-strapped and the ownership unlikeable, the Dodgers began to lose some of their relevance in Southern California. Now the team is investing in All-Star players and will certainly have significant dollars available to retain 24-year-old NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, whose contract expires in 2014.  Naturally, Kershaw—and his agent—anticipate that the Dodgers will be the frontrunners to retain his services.

Baseball’s eyes will be turned out west as the 2012 pennant races wind down.  The Dodgers have reloaded in their efforts to catch their longtime rival San Francisco Giants and beat out the St. Louis Cardinals for a wild-card spot.  If the Dodgers fail to win it all this year, I would not be surprised to see them pursue big-name free agents Josh Hamilton and 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke in the offseason.

The question moving forward will be whether the spending on player salaries—by the Dodgers as well as all the other teams—is sustainable in the long term. 

Jed Hughes is Vice Chair of Korn/Ferry and the leader of the executive search firm’s Global Sports Practice.  Among his high-profile placements are Mark Murphy, CEO of the Green Bay Packers; Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference; and Brady Hoke, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.  Earlier in his career, Mr. Hughes coached for two decades in professional and intercollegiate football where he served under five Hall of Fame coaches: Bo Schembechler (Michigan), Chuck Noll (Pittsburgh Steelers), Bud Grant (Minnesota Vikings), John Ralston (Stanford) and Terry Donahue (UCLA).  Follow him on Facebook, Twitter @jedhughesKF.

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New York Yankees: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but You Can Win

“No” is not a familiar word heard in the New York Yankees front office.

General manager Brian Cashman has the resources to woo players to come play in the Bronx, so what happened this offseason?

It has to be expected that the Yankees sans Mr. George Steinbrenner lost a little bit of their appeal.

Not many owners possess the passion and fire that the Boss displayed. Even the negative stories about how he was a tyrant with unreal expectations were equalized by his never-ending willingness to help.

So, what the heck happened to the Yankees missing out on Cliff Lee and not signing any top free agent? Why is Andy Pettitte so hesitant to commit?

In my opinion, the unmistakable absence of Mr. Steinbrenner is what is crippling the Yankees.

Imagine yourself as a player who the Yankees wanted in pinstripes while Mr. Steinbrenner was the principal owner. Hence, Mr. Steinbrenner thought that the Yankees needed to acquire you to win. Figuring out how to get a player was never the problem; it was just a matter of when, because the Boss would go to any extreme.

To feel that important in Mr. Steinbrenner’s eyes must have felt special for a free agent. Now, with Mr. Steinbrenner having passed last July, that aspect is gone for potential free agents.

Mr. Steinbrenner was first and foremost a baseball fan. Over the past few seasons, where poor health didn’t allow for the Boss to be at the ballpark, you still could feel him everywhere. I was at the plaque ceremony against the Tampa Bay Rays last season, and the fight that the Yankees played with was inspiring.

Let’s just hope the current players can prove that is not gone. The 2011 season will answer a lot of questions, because this would be the season where winning one for the Boss would be the most meaningful.

The players have to always know in their hearts that the Boss will always be watching, and winning is what will make his spirit felt everywhere again.

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Cliff Lee Signs With Philadelphia Phillies: The New York Yankees’ Reign Ends

George Steinbrenner was more than a mere baseball mogul. For better or worse, his time at the top of the New York Yankees ladder changed the game forever. During the latter years of the Steinbrenner era, as the landscape became the free market free-for-all Steinbrenner so encouraged during the first two decades of free agency, the Yankees became a symbol, an empire that ruled baseball with an iron (golden) fist.

Steinbrenner died in July though, and the evidence has rapidly accumulated ever since: Without the Boss behind the big desk inside the team’s new palace, the empire is in an irrevocable decline. Free agent ace Cliff Lee made that official Monday night. In a stunning resolution to a nearly James-ean free agent drama that unfolded after dark on one of the shortest days of the year, Lee chose the Philadelphia Phillies’ five year, $100 million offer over monumentally more lucrative offers from both the Texas Rangers and the Yankees.

Of course, there is so much more to the story. Lee did not merely pass up $50 million more to pitch in Philadelphia rather than New York; he did so despite perhaps the Yankees’ most aggressive courtship of a free agent since Roger Clemens. Lee spurned the Yankees in a way that no one, while Steinbrenner still breathed, would have dared to spurn them. Steinbrenner, for all his faults as a short-sighted and short-tempered personnel manager, had a certain charisma when it came to luring in their truly important targets.

As recently as two winters ago, the team rather easily scooped up CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. The team simply did not miss when they really, truly committed themselves to a player. Steinbrenner was emperor, and he left no territory unconquered. Mere months after his death, their most prized target has rather easily defied conquest.

Meanwhile, as they always do when great empires begin to fall in on themselves, emboldened rivals have begun to directly attack the Yankees. The Red Sox, who never really displaced the Yankees as baseball’s unilateral power even during their mini-dynasty in the middle of the last decade, have so thoroughly beaten the Yankees this winter that, if the season began tomorrow, they would probably win the AL East by 10 games. They signed Carl Crawford, whom the Yankees had also briefly considered, and traded for Adrian Gonzalez.

With the Yankees missing out on Lee, the Red Sox may be better in every facet of the game next season: offense, pitching and defense. Meanwhile, the Phillies now look like a surefire favorite to win the NL pennant, and the Rangers are younger and deeper than New York. They reportedly have interest in Adrian Beltre as a consolation prize after losing Lee, which might make them as good as the Yankees.

Finally, consider the eroding talents and loyalties of the core group that made the Yankees so great over the past 15 years. These men are the generals who have facilitated this empire’s great military victories. In the wake of Steinbrenner’s retirement and subsequent depth, these generals have found themselves dealing with his son Hal, a rather bumbling (or at least underwhelming) successor. The ensuing frustrations and gaffes, while perhaps nothing George himself could have avoided, reflect the strain on New York’s critical power centers.

Derek Jeter squared off with Hal in a rather embarrassing exchange that was as bad for morale as it was for public perception of the unified Yankee front. Nor should Jeter have felt sufficiently entitled to assume such a standoffish posture: He had his worst offensive season in over a decade this year, and his defense at shortstop went from bad to worse. In other words, the empire’s greatest general is now a mildly rebellious and eminently impotent leader.

Mariano Rivera, whose contract negotiation ostensibly went much more smoothly, reportedly came close to an alarming turn of his coat. His representatives reached out to the Red Sox, who eventually (at the urging of his agents) made him a contract offer. That was probably a leverage move by Rivera and the agents, and it worked to the tune of a two year, $30 million contract. Still, it never used to be that Yankee legends would use the Red Sox (or anyone else, but especially Boston) to create leverage in a negotiation with management. Rivera had a great 2010, but at 41, he too is beginning to show his age.

If Jeter has gotten a bit big for his britches and Rivera has apparently pondered an unimaginable defection, the most outwardly rebellious and problematic of the old Yankee guard is still Jorge Posada. Posada had no contract disputes to muddy the water this winter, but he has spent the past two seasons as an aging malcontent, getting into tiffs with manager (and former teammate) Joe Girardi, ceasing to catch for A.J. Burnett and battling injuries that mount as he ages.

Mind you, it is not as easy as merely replacing those guys. They cannot be easily replaced. The Yankees farm system is decent, but they simply will not be producing five future Hall of Fame players again within the next decade. That was lightning caught in a bottle, and it’s tough to do twice.

Meanwhile, GM Brian Cashman may be running into more walls than he thought as he tries to hold the whole contraption together. Cashman recently called himself the “director of spending” for the Yankees, which could hardly have sat well with the younger Steinbrenner. The two men have struggled to present a coherent message about the Yankees’ plans for the offseason that it is not at all hard to imagine Lee electing the more stable environment of Philadelphia.

So it is. The builder and leader of a great empire is dead, and in his stead stands an insufficient successor upon whom only heredity has conferred that privilege. The public heads of state (i.e. Girardi and Cashman) seem intent on gaining increased autonomy within the reorganized regime. The men who have won the empire’s greatest battlefield victories are beginning to fade from their former glory, and discordant feelings among them threaten the unity of the troops in the field. The Huns are crossing the Alps, and the richest empire in the history of the baseball world lacks the wherewithal to hold them off. 

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MLB 2010: Remembering Those We Lost This Year

Baseball lost many this year, some big names and some not-so-big.  Here is a farewell to some of the stars of the American Pastime who left us this year.

Starting with the biggest name of all…


George Steinbrenner: 07/04/1930 to 07/13/2010

Also known as “The Boss.”

Best known for being himself (meddlesome, controversial, temperamental and rich) and for owning the New York Yankees, Steinbrenner was a larger-than-life fixture in baseball for the 37 years he owned the team.  There’s little to tell about him that most baseball fans don’t already know.

Many felt that Steinbrenner was one of the driving forces of the rampant escalation of baseball players’ salaries.

During The Boss’ tenure as the Yankees’ owner, the team won 11 pennants and seven World Series championships.  He will appear on the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

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George Steinbrenner Can Wait To Be a Hall of Famer

I have no problem with sports figures who are the personality equivalent of a stiff drink. Ted Williams is one of my all-time favorites. To me, Bobby Knight is a genius coach. If I shut down the moral center of my brain, I can even appreciate Kobe Bryant and Ty Cobb for their statistics and work ethic.

So it’s not out of character prejudice that I think George Michael Steinbrenner III can wait to get into the Hall of Fame. Mr. “breathing first, winning next” certainly has the credentials to have earned a spot. Consider these facts and stats under his ownership:

– Seven World Series championship teams
– Eleven pennant winners
– Seventeen division titles
– Six no-hitters (and two perfect games)
– Four MVP and three Cy Young winners
– Eight 100-win seasons
– Twenty-two first or second-place finishes from managers Billy Martin, Lou Piniella, Buck Showalter, Joe Torre, Don Zimmer and Joe Girardi

And consider just a few of the Yankees who played during his years: Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Don Mattingly, Ricky Henderson, Wade Boggs, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez.

Under the glow of that shining record, it seems like a no-brainer that the Veterans Committee should have voted in George just five months after his death.

But, historically, the Veterans Committee hasn’t been what you could call “timely.” The last two executives they voted into the Hall, in 2008, were Bowie Kuhn and Walter O’Malley. Kuhn’s career ended in 1984, O’Malley’s in 1979.

They should consider themselves swiftly blessed. The committee didn’t recognize William Ambrose Hulbert—one of the founders of the National League and president of the Chicago White Stockings—until 1995.

I should mention he died in 1882.

I could give more examples of the committee’s history of giving late appreciations—including references to the Hartford Dark Blues and the Boston Beaneaters—but maybe it’s more important to note that the only executive they voted in the year he retired was Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

The best reason I can think to explain the ice age it usually takes the Veterans to vote someone in is the reverence baseball has for time. Both they and the members of the BBWAA tend to like some dust on their inductees before they consider them fit for a Hall spot.

I respect their patience. I mean, think of all the movies you considered awesome the year they were made, only to realize not even a decade later that, while arguably great by 2003 standards, “The Matrix Reloaded” doesn’t stand the test of time.

Sometimes we need time not only to respect a list of accomplishments from an objective distance but also to let the likes of Pat Gillick through the door before the obvious guys are acknowledged.

And for those of us with a sense of humor about the Yankees, there’s this sweet irony to enjoy: a man notorious for his impatience in all things will have to wait for his place in Cooperstown.

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MLB Hot Stove: Jeter Negotiations Make Yankee Fans Miss “The Boss”

My hometown is a small island known as New York City.

Numerous pro-sports teams bear the words New York on their jerseys.

Fans and players alike wear their respective team’s apparel with such pride.

No matter the number or name, or whether it’s game-green or pinstriped, they all represent the same special place.

This is why the last few weeks have been so tough, as the talk turned to obsession regarding New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

Jeter was the talk of the town, which is no easy feat in the Big Apple, and not necessarily something you want to go through.

It’s a city of ego, making jealousy an easy path to choose and Jeter isn’t so hard to envy.

With a resume consisting of professional athlete, Yankee captain, not hard on the eyes, easy-going, polite, five-time world champ and an endorsement list that rivals Michael Jordan—who named a sneaker in his honor—caused New Yorkers to get nasty.

Other than Jeter’s desperate need for an off-the-field stylist, try and find me a guy who wouldn’t want to be Derek Jeter for a day, because he is living the dream.

Looking back on Jeter’s contract negotiations, the emotions were not so jealously driven as much as I felt betrayed.

Baseball is a business, but the players are still people.

See, Jeter is not just a shortstop or a professional baseball player to most of us Yankee fans. This made it very personal for us.

If George Steinbrenner were still alive, I doubt he would have allowed any dirt to be kicked on the captain.

Darryl Strawberry reiterated this sentiment by stating:

“George would roll over in his grave if he knew the way they’re treating Jeter,” Strawberry told the New York Daily News.

“The Boss never would have let this happen. If the Boss was alive, there’s no question they’d pay Jeter. I got to know George personally, and I know how much he cared about his players. And Jeter was like a son to him. I’m telling you, this wouldn’t be happening.”

See, the New York Yankees are under a new regime for the first time since 1973.

Passing the torch to his sons Hank and Hal, it has become clear that the only similarity seems to be their last name.

Say what you want about “The Boss,” but no one can deny his determination to win and anything short of perfection just wasn’t good enough.

Many of Mr. Steinbrenner’s decisions were controversial, ridiculous and unreasonable at times because he was a baseball fan. That true passion would constantly supersede his decision making as an owner.

The sons seem to be disconnected from the actual love of the game.

The fact that Hank and Hal even left the door open for Jeter to wear another uniform was all the proof I needed.

The initial pitch of $45 million for three years is measured as generous when compared to baseball in its entirety.

Let’s not forget that this is the Yankees, who play in New York and they have always been a different kind of beast.

“The Boss” did not strive to be an average person and he surely never ran the Yankees with that sentiment.

As he once said:

“When it comes to hiring, number one for me is loyalty. I want a person who’s devoted to the task.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Steinbrenner no longer has a voice and I don’t think Yankee fans are used to baseball being purely about business. It is something only time can heal.

I guess New York never realized that “Our Boss” was first and foremost just another Yankees fan.

For now, I am just happy our captain is back.

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Power Ranking George Steinbrenner and the 25 Greatest Owners in MLB History

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veteran’s Committee will vote on Dec. 5 to select any players, executives or other baseball personnel who have contributed sufficiently to the game since 1973 to merit induction. As it happens, 1973 was the year George Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees. Though Steinbrenner died in July, his son Hal remains chairman of the Yankees today.

Steinbrenner thus seems well-situated to become the 13th person in history elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame principally as an owner. His Yankee teams won seven World Series titles and Steinbrenner notably did whatever he could (and often more) to push for ever greater success.

Yet, many note also that Steinbrenner’s transgressions begin to balance out his positive contributions. Twice, he was forced out of MLB altogether, only to find his way back in. Steinbrenner is one of the most polarizing figures of the last 50 years in Major League Baseball, but as far as owners go, few have ever had such an impact or been so visible.

Here are the top 25 owners in MLB history, ranked according to a proprietary system explained in detail on the next slide.

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ALCS Game 3: Can the Yankees Recover After the New York Nightmare?

It was only a couple weeks ago when many experts had the New York Yankees as a lock to make it to the World Series and defend their title. Unfortunately, for the Yankee faithful, no one told the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers have certainly not been intimidated by the Yankees bloated payroll and 27 World Series titles. They haven’t been phased by their previous nine losses in ten postseason games to the Yankees before this season. The 2010 Texas Rangers are not your daddy’s Texas Rangers.

Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers handed the Yankees their worst home loss in postseason history, and for the boys in pinstripes, that includes an incredible amount of games. Even with Andy Pettitte, the most prolific winner in postseason history, the Yankees couldn’t overcome the dominance of Lee.

After tonight’s victory, Cliff Lee became the most successful pitcher in postseason history in terms of earned run average. With an ERA of 1.26 and a 7-0 career postseason record, Lee has placed himself among the all-time greats in history.

After managing only two hits in nine innings and striking out an incredible 15 times, the Yankees are certainly lagging in confidence. In a game as fickle as baseball, mental composure can be nearly as important as physical ability. After three games, New York is certainly lacking in confidence.

With the exception of one strong inning in game one where the Yankees put up five runs in the eighth inning, the Rangers’ pitching staff has held the powerful New York lineup in check. After scoring six runs in their come from behind victory in game one, the Yankees have only scored two runs in games two and three. In fact, with the exception of that eighth inning of game one, the Yankees have managed only three runs in 26 innings.

Sure, the Yankees are only down 2-1 going into game four in New York, but how confident can they be with a struggling A.J. Burnett scheduled to be going to the mound against a formidable Texas lineup and the Yankees’ stagnant offense?

The Yankees’ best chance would lie with a shakeup in the scheduled rotation. Although C.C. Sabathia was less than stellar in his game one outing, he gives New York their best chance of victory. Also, that would leave him open for the possibility of a game seven start on short rest.

Game four will ultimately prove to be the most important game of the season for the 2010 New York Yankees. With a win, they can even the series at two games apiece. With a loss, the Rangers go up 3-1 forcing a minimum of seven games and the possible return of Cliff Lee.

When discussing the New York Yankees, it’s never too late to count them out. But if there’s any season where the odds are significantly against them, this is it.

It’s time for the Yankees to channel the spirit of George Steinbrenner. The Yankees have to go out and turn the momentum in a game four victory, or their season is all but finished.

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Bernie Williams Interview: Life With and Without the New York Yankees

One of Bernie Williams’ most memorable conversations with the late George Steinbrenner had nothing to do with baseball.

About eight or nine years ago, the Yankees suspended their annual Family Day at the Stadium, an event during which the players were able to bring their children to play around on the field.

Williams’ wife, Waleska, was upset because the couple’s kids always looked forward to going, so the center fielder decided to take action. First, he went to manager Joe Torre, who told him the decision came from the top.

So he called The Boss.

“I don’t think he was expecting a call from me,” Williams, who is promoting MasterCard’s new Reserved by MasterCard program, told a group of six bloggers at a recent roundtable discussion in Midtown Manhattan.

“I said, ‘Mr. Steinbrenner, how you doing?’ He said, ‘Good. What can I do for you?’ I said, ‘Well, I heard that we’re not having Family Day this year, and I was wondering why we’re not having it because I know my kids are looking forward to it, and I’ve been one player that I don’t really ask for much, but I’d really like you to reconsider this decision because it’s really important for me and my family.’

“He said, ‘OK, I’ll get back to you on this.’ And I think it was because we won that day, he said, ‘OK, we’re going to have Family Day tomorrow.’ “

Williams felt he had earned the right to be honest with the owner, like during a more serious conversation with Steinbrenner a few years earlier.

In 1998, Williams helped lead New York to its second World Series title in three years, becoming the first player to capture a Gold Glove, batting title, and ring during the same campaign. After the season, the outfielder, who began his career with the Bombers in 1991, became a free agent.

“Being part of the Yankees for [eight] years, with no options of doing anything, not having the free will to decide my own destiny, I think I sort of owed it to myself to at least be able to explore the possibility to maybe just see what’s out there,” Williams explained. 

The D-Backs, Tigers, and rival Red Sox were courting Williams, who thought it was pretty cool to be a part of the free market.

“But at the end of the day, I had been with the Yankees for such a long time—I was so used to the city, the system, my teammates—I was like deep down inside, I knew I just wanted to be a Yankee,” he said.

While the negotiations were ongoing between Williams’ agent and the organization, the player himself decided to call Steinbrenner from his home in Puerto Rico.

“‘I don’t think they’re getting it done the way I want to get it done,'” Williams told the owner. “‘I just want you to hear from me that I want to remain a Yankee and I want us to work this out,’ and he said, ‘What do you want?’ “

Williams explained to Steinbrenner that he desired a contract similar to the one Mike Piazza had at the time with the Mets. So the owner discussed it with his people and within a few hours, he returned with an offer that ended up being signed at seven years, $87.5 million. The five-time All-Star would win two more titles and play out the rest of his career in New York.

That tenure came to an end after the 2006 season, which the veteran had played under a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

The Yankees invited Williams to spring training in ’07, offering him the opportunity to earn a spot on the roster, but he wanted a guaranteed spot and turned down the invitation.

The lifetime .297 hitter hasn’t played in the big leagues since, but he has never officially retired.

“The first year or two, I was going through somewhat of an existential crisis,” Williams said about his life after baseball. “It takes some time to adjust and you have this possibility of maybe playing for another team, and you start missing the game. Going through the World Baseball Classic [in 2009], I was like, ‘I can do this again,’…but I sort of kept it open, I think maybe trying to fool myself into thinking that maybe one day I could come back. If it’s not this year, maybe next year I’ll definitely make it official.”

And maybe after that happens, Williams’ No. 51 will be hung in Monument Park next to the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and former teammate Don Mattingly.

“I have no expectations as far as that goes. That’s their decision to make,” said the 1996 American League Championship Series MVP. “I have my experiences, the years that I’ve played with them, the World Series rings, the batting title, the Gold Gloves. Even though I left in not the best terms, I’m able to feel that I’m still part of this great organization…The number would be icing on the cake.”

Williams is keeping plenty busy away from the game of baseball. Last year, the classically trained guitarist released his second major album, Moving Forward, which earned him a Latin Grammy nomination.

The 42-year-old attended a performing arts high school, and always carried a guitar with him throughout his baseball career. During rain delays or after batting practice, he and ex-teammate Paul O’Neill, who plays drums, would retreat into the paint room at the old Yankee Stadium for their very own jam sessions.

“Even though my skill level may not be there, just to have the opportunity to [perform], to me, it is a blessing,” said Williams.

He’s being awfully humble because the San Juan native is probably the only person ever to win a World Series and have an album reach No. 2 on the U.S. jazz charts.

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report’s New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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