With his death yesterday morning, George Steinbrenner instantly became the biggest sports story of the day – bigger even, than last night’s MLB All Star game, won by the National League, 3-1.

ESPN dedicated the entire day to Steinbrenner coverage, and FOX dedicated their broadcast of the All Star game last night to the fallen Yankees owner.

The papers and websites today are full of tributes to Steinbrenner, columns of all lengths – the long (Gerry Callahan), the medium (Jon Couture), and the very short (Michael Gee).

I realize I am fully in the minority on this one, but I find it a bit hypocritical for the media to lavish such praise and make all-day glowing tributes to a man who a) was a convicted felon for making illegal campaign contributions and obstruction of justice,  resulting in a suspension from baseball and b) was suspended a second time from baseball for paying off a gambler to dig up dirt on one of his superstar players (Dave Winfield). Yes, he made huge contributions to charities, including The Jimmy Fund, but he also bullied his employees as a matter of routine.

He gave the media endless material to work with, and that, I suspect is among the biggest motivation for all the glowing tributes offered up. I’ve heard over and over – stated as fact – that any sports fan (especially Boston fans) would’ve loved to have had Steinbrenner as the owner of their franchise. You know what? At this point, I’m pretty happy with John Henry and Robert Kraft.

Just one man’s opinion.

Here’s the Top 10 for today:

“I’d have a better chance of being struck by lightning than me and him getting a pizza together,” he said. “You can take that for what it’s worth. But there was no chance on God’s green earth that I was getting a pizza with him.”

That’s Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, talking about minor league teammate Hanley Ramirez in Steve Buckley’s column this morning. (Fenway Pastoral thinks this is a terrible column premise.)

Battling back – David Willis talks to Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie, who has been rehabbing with the Lowell Spinners as he tries to make it back to the big club.

Without a bat, Ortiz at a loss – Gordon Edes has David Ortiz getting thrown out at second base in the ninth inning last night to kill a potential AL rally.

Unclear future for ailing Sox – Alex Speier looks at what the second half may hold for the Red Sox.

What becomes of the Red Sox without Adrian Gonzalez – With the Padres slugger off the trade market, Rob Bradford examines how the Red Sox might look to fill the middle of their order.

For Ray Allen, Celts are home– Mark Murphy has Ray Allen talking about his return to the Celtics, and giving his thoughts on the new-look Miami Heat.

Celtics may have to overpay for Nate – Chris Forberg says that perhaps the Celtics cannot afford to let Nate Robinson walk away.

Exciting times for the Bruins – Joe Haggerty says there is excitement among both the fans and team as they prepare for the “Seguin Effect.”

Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate’s Skills Could Add New Dimensions to Patriots’ Offense – Jeff Howe looks at the potential impact of the two second-year receivers.

Positional Previews – Special Teams – Patriots Daily kicks off training camp previews with a look at the Patriots special teams.

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17 thoughts on “Even In Death, Steinbrenner Bigger Than The Game

  1. Bruce, I couldn't agree more regarding Steinbrenner. But, as I'm sure you're aware, the same thing with politicians who die – they can be the sleaziest of the sleaze but praises will pour in from the media as if a great prince has died. I take it as a sign of respect for the dead but, as with all things media, it's all over the top.

    I never liked Steinbrenner, thought he was bad for baseball and while I recognize his passing it won't affect my life. Just because he's been silent (because he suffered from age) doesn't mean his DNA changed.

    Interestingly the only article I read that was any good is from Dave Anderson from the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/sports/baseball
    I too would never trade Kraft, Henry or Grousbeck for him but yeah I'd trade him for Jacobs in a millisecond.

  2. isn't this the standard M.O. , though?…….when anybody kicks the bucket all of a sudden they become a "great person"……even if they were an A-Hole when they were alive……

  3. How exactly was Steinbrenner "bad for baseball"? By having an insatiable desire to win, as opposed to having an insatiable desire to make money? By spending to that end in a sport that has no real cap on spending?

    If anything, if it wasn't for Steinbrenner, there'd be no revenue sharing at all in the game. His constant pushing forced a league that's been simply reactionary for years into doing something.

    Agreed on the Dave Anderson piece, though. Not a surprise given the amount of time he probably spent dealing with him personally and professionally.

    1. One could argue that someone who was suspended – twice – from the game was bad for baseball.

      1. Bruce, you're way off base with this. I'm not a Yankee fan but even I can see the need for someone like Steinbrenner. He was the Darth Vader of baseball. By no means am I romanticizing his felonious actions throughout the years, but he wanted to win. Period. Plus, he didn't play the game, which I think would change things in people's minds. This isn't Kobe (rapist) Bryant or Pete Rose we are talking about.

    2. When a team management doesn't have to rely on intelligence but has the brute force of mega $$$ then it takes away a lot of fun from the game, IMO. The fact G.S. didn't win many years proved he wasn't the smartest or the most wise – he was just the bully who drove a Mercedes when everyone else on his street drove Volkswagen's. Hey, if you think that's great for baseball then knock yourself out but I don't. The fact that at least half the teams know in the beginning of a year they have no chance at winning the World Series isn't a good thing, it's why baseball is dying in many cities.

      And G.S.'s legacy will be how he treated others, not his bank account. History will not look on him fondly (see above).

  4. Steinbrenner was incredible for baseball. He helped baseball make much more money then they would have if he was not an owner. He was the best owner of any sports teams for the last 30+ years, and anyone who says they wouldn't want that for their team is not being honest with themselves. If it wasn't for him, teams like the Royals and Marlins would not be making money with the shared revenue the Yankees give to them.

    Speaking of the Marlins and great owners, John Henry looks like he got out just in time, before they were going to possibly be disbanded. Obviously the Red Sox are a much bigger organization and money making machine, but if not for that, I bet Henry would simply jump to the next baseball team like he did to Florida. Ask Marlins fans how much they like John Henry.
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2001/11/22/marlins

    Sorry Bruce, love your work and will keep checking out the site, but I definitely respectfully disagree with you about Steinbrenner.

    1. That’s fine. Your opinions are just as valid as mine, and you’ve got a point about John Henry and the Marlins.

  5. No problem here with John Henry as owner of the Red Sox. However, many of us older folks almost automatically default to thinking of the Yawkeys as owners of the Red Sox over the majority of our lifetimes, and Steinbrenner would have more preferable than the Yawkey regime.

  6. Steinbrenner's out-of-control spending is the biggest reason for overpaid ballplayers. In bidding wars the agents always knew that he or the threat of him would always be there to drive the salaries higher. I'm a Republican capitalist, and all in favor of free enterprise, but when I see a mediocre infielder making 7 or 8 million per year, I can't help but think that something's out of whack.

    1. Fan’s willingness to be parted from their cash is the ONLY reason players make as much money as they do. It is an economic fallacy to state that costs drive price. Demand drives price. Steinbrenner figured out that putting a better product on the field meant people would pay more to go to games and that sponsors would pay more for television.

    2. It's not "out of control" spending … he spent to his team's means, which is exactly how the playing field's set up in baseball. It's a $6 billion industry. Let's stop pretending that just because it's a game that somehow means the players shouldn't make an appreciable piece of the pie.

      If people want the salaries to come down, they ought to speak with their wallets. Don't buy the jerseys, don't buy the tickets, don't watch the games. It's not Steinbrenner's fault that there's not competitive balance. It's MLB's fault for failing to rein in the big spenders the way football did, hockey did basketball (kind of) did.

  7. Bruce,

    Did you catch Jimmy Breslin’s interview on Sportscenter? Yeah, I realize he comes off as the grumpy old man but he was one of the only people that didn’t make me sick with his comments. He said something to the effect of “he never hit a home run . . he never stole a base . . he was a good guy . . i liked him . . but let’s not deify him”. Amen

    Here is a link

  8. Couldn’t agree more about the Winfield/Steinbrenner thing. How unreal is it that he had a PI looking for dirt on he guy? George certainly had some good moments, but he definitely had his share of AWFUL moments.

  9. Reminds me a bit of an Old Dogs (Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis) song called Rough On The Living.

    Some of the lyrics:

    http://www.roughstock.com/cowpie/songs/o/old-dogs

    The Wife that they Interviewed, Cryin’

    Is the Same One who Left him last Fall

    And the Record Producer who Called him a Hero

    Is the One Who wouldn’t Answer his Call

    The Ladies, they Sit over Coffee

    Braggin’ ’bout Sharin’ his Bed

    They didn’t Want him Around when he’s Livin’

    But he’s Sure a Good Friend when he’s Dead

    They’re Plannin’ a Book for September

    Showin’ his Plain Country Roots

    And they’re Sellin the Rights to the Movie

    And the Hall of Fame’s Gettin’ his Boots

    At the Funeral Somebody Recited a Poem

    That Told How he Suffered and Bled

    Nashville Is Rough On The Living

    But She Really Speaks Well of the Dead

  10. After reading some articles on Steinbrenner, there is no question he was the spitting image of his parents (and I don't mean in looks). Bad George came from his father who was a demanding task master who was never happy and never gave credit to George. The only time he ever gave George a pat on the back was when he bought the Yankees. Even then, his father said, "It's about time you did something right you dummy." Good George came from his mother who was a caring, loving person who always cheered for the underdog. She always believed in helping those less fortunate. I think you see that in all of Steinbrenner's charitable donation like the Jimmy Fund, Grambling State Univ., or children of police officers who were killed in the line of duty. Steinbrenner was definitely a head scratcher of a human being.

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