ROB TO THE RESCUE
Rob Neyer has a fine, even-handed look at Boss George in his lastest column for ESPN. He carefully reminds us that in spite of Steinbrenner’s boorish personality, he is the chief reason why the Yankees have been successful since CBS sold the team in 1973:
If you read what’s been written about Steinbrenner, you’ll have a hard time escaping the conclusion that he’s something less than a wonderful person. But if you ignore much of what’s been written and instead focus on the facts, you’ll also have a hard time escaping the conclusion that the Yankees have won six World Series since 1973 not in spite of their owner, but because of him.
…Yes, he meddles — and lies, and bullies, and blackmails — but he also wants to win more than any other owner in baseball, and you can’t separate these like the egg yolk from the white. If you want one, you have to accept the other.
George has made foolish trades, just like the next guy, of course. If it wasn’t for Gabe Paul, Ron Guidry would have never made it to 1978 as a Yankee. But Steinbrenner has had his shinning moments too (most recently going after Mussina and Giambi). Here is one I didn’t know about:
In their book Detroit Tigers Lists and More, co-authors Mark Pattison and David Raglin report (and I’ve confirmed this with a Detroit baseball writer) that in November of 1997 the Tigers and Yankees worked out a big trade. The Yankees would get pitching prospects Mike Drumright and Roberto Duran, and the Tigers would get Bernie Williams, who was set to make a large sum of money upon gaining free agency at the conclusion of the 1998 season.
Tigers general manager Randy Smith thought the deal was done … only to be informed by Yankees general manager Bob Watson that the deal was off. Why? Because Boss Steinbrenner nixed the trade. And in 1998, 1) the Yankees won 114 games, 2) the Yankees won the World Series, shortly after which 3) the Yankees signed Williams to a new seven-year, $87.5 million contract
Props go to Aaron Gleeman for pointing out Steve Goldman’s stellar column, The Pinstriped Bible, over at the YES Network’s website. As Gleeman correctly pointed out, Goldman is no shill, and his column (which appears every Thursday) is insightful and appealing. Check it out.