Posted on: July 13, 2010 11:56 pm
Finding a unique view of George Steinbrenner on the day of his death is like trying to squeeze a 13" ball through a 10" hoop. You can try but it tends to be an exercise in frustration. Well, I'm a bit on the stubborn side so the attempt is going to be made here. Kansas City's involvement with George and the Yankees goes back a long way. Back to 1975 when it was apparent that both teams were very close to challenging for their divisions in the AL. As a Royals fan you could see George was going to do all he could to get NY back to a champion. As both teams battled each other through 4 ALCS, we in the Midwest viewed George as a fun to dislike villian, but a worthy opponent though a bit eccentric in his ways. The Bronx Zoo was entertaining to view yet frustrating to play. It was so sweet to finally get the monkey off our backs in 1980 and after our ALCS win, see George fire Dick Howser who we picked up the next year.
The 80's were good to the Yankees in the wins department, yet no playoffs came after the 1981 WS loss to the Dodgers. George was a madman. He was always trying to get back to the Series but something would always go wrong in the end, or the Tigers, Orioles, Red Sox, or Blue Jays would be too much in a given year for the Yanks. Then George got his second suspension of his career over the Dave Winfield incident (the first was over illegal campaign contributions to the '72 Nixon/Agnew ticket). Stepping away was the best thing to happen to NY. His front offices were able to draft well, make good trades, and sign free agents that made sense. Under Bob Watson the Yanks finally made it back to the postseason and won four WS in 6 years. As George takes over more control of the the team, they go through a drought of sorts (for them anyway) and the WS Championship eludes them until hank takes over the team and allows Brian Cashman to show why he's a very good GM w/o tons of interferrence from ownership.
After the strike of 1994, George did a great job of maximizing his revenues under the new agreement. Until that point, even teams like the Royals could match pace with the Yankees in players salaries. George's tremedous business accumen allowed NY to outspend smaller markets by a wide margin. He was only doing what seemed best for his team. Unfortunately for many smaller markets, ownership chose to play the poor us game rather than adapt and respond to the challenge. Was this selfish on George's part and maybe not the best thing overall for baseball, probably. I never looked at Steinbrenner with the same fun villian view after that. However, he did what he needed to do for his team and that had to be respected. I wish he would have offered the limited revenue sharing option a bit earlier or offered up some other concessions in other areas in the owners control to help ease the transition to the big money era in baseball. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and what happened is past now.
In the end, George was well, George. His lazer focus was wanting his team to be the best in baseball and through good or bad you knew his decisions were based on achieving that. We didn't always like the results out here in the Midwest. It was more fun when we were equals and George failed to realize that the whole sport would have been better off with his team having more than just Boston as a big rival. The big picture was never George's strength. Making the Yankees #1 any way possible was where Geprge's heart was and the NY fans will always be grateful for that. In the Heartland, we'll always see GS with respect but much differently.
Posted on: January 7, 2010 12:02 pm
After struggling with three drafts in Word on this subject, I finally decided to just wing it and compose on the fly on this topic. It is an important topic and one that radically divides major league fans. The inequality in payrolls has been debated ad nauseum on Sportsline and across the baseball media.
I know this has gone long. There is much I haven’t been able to cover here. All I wish for is for all sides to sit down and hammer out a system that rewards well run teams with an opportunity to win in the post season no matter what city the team is located in. Then, if your team blows, you know it is because of poor management and not that someone can simply outspend you.