"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Money Can’t Buy Me Love…(But it’s a Start)

The Boss was all about winning…or else. It was the “or else” part that brought out the worst in him as he ruled by fear, intimidation and humiliation. It is impossible for me to forget–let alone forgive–his cruelty in the pursuit of success (though it’s easy to laugh at some of his antics now, “hey, remember the time he got into that ‘fight’ in the elevator in L.A…”). But the Boss is an appealing figure because he was more than that. Vicious and generous, an ogre and a sentimental slob, an earnest patriot. Oh, and he was funny too.

I watched most of the George Steinbrenner special on YES last night and thought they did a nice job. I especially liked hearing some of John Sterling’s stories (and it made me reconsider Sterling again; how do I ever let a guy who is this funny get me upset?). The thing I noticed most was Yankee players–from Derek Jeter to retired players like Paul O’Neill–talking about Steinbrenner’s generosity. Financial generosity, that is. David Cone was candid in a phone interview and said that the Boss helped Ron Guidry out of financial problems after Gator retired.

Once you took his money, you were open to his abuse. But for the most part, no matter how ugly things got, once a player retired or left the Yankees, Steinbrenner usually invited them back, wanted them “part of the family.” He brought them back with money and attention. Guys who hated the Boss when they played for him, Nettles, Gossage, Gamble, they all hang around the Yankees these days, go to fantasy camps, they get paid.

Money equals love, or something close to it. And speaking of which, because of a tax-law, the Steinbrenner family gets off easy in George’s death. If not for this bit of fortunate timing, who knows, perhaps they’d have to sell a part of the team.  

The New York Post has a terrific tribute to Steinbrenner today, including a funny column by Larry Brooks, and an insightful one by Fay Vincent.

Up in Boston, as usual, Charlie Pierce nails it.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]


1 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:10 am

I am not sure how many have read Bill Madden's recent bio on the Boss, but I definitely recommend it. It presents both the good and bad George, which illustrates just how complex George was.

It's probably a bit of pop psychology, but Steinbrenner was greatly influenced by his father, who never seemed to be pleased with the accomplishments of his son. In many ways, the Boss took on that same persona, but mollified it with the compassion he so often sought from his Dad, but never received. All at once, George combined both personalities into one, which explains some of his erratic behavior (i.e. firing someone on Tuesday, offering them a raise on Wednesday and then threatening to fire them again on Thursday).

The Boss was not perfect by any stretch, but he was definitely one of a kind. He has also reached a unique place in Yankee history and really takes a back seat to no one in the franchise's legendary history.

I was profoundly sad when I heard the news even though we've all been expecting it. The end of the Steinbrenner era really started years ago, but the finality of his passing was still a blow. I really hope the Yankees do everything possible to honor him. It was also very nice to see baseball offer a tribute during the opening ceremonies of the ASG. In a way, the timing of his death had that one bit of fortune.

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:25 am

Thinking about George while watching the game last night. All that drama building up for Arod to have an at bat w/ the game on the line. One of the game's most massive personalities, on a grand stage, it was a moment George tried to create for us fans as often as possible.

And it didn't happen. It was an incredible let down for Arod not to bat in that inning. A total failure of understanding about why we (east coasters) stayed up late to watch.

The weird part is that this exact same scenario played out once before. W/ LaRussa and Pujols. Do these mgrs not want to put their stars on the line when failure might embarass them? I mean, c'mon, how can we denied Pujols or Arod in the 9th when the game is on the line in favor of beltre and kinsler and whatever crap hitter the NL had up in 2007?

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:27 am

The Madden book is pretty good. I still prefer Dick Schaap's bio. The best piece I ever read--and it's a pro-George story--was by Tony Kornheiser for the Times magazine in 1978. Anyone who is interested, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you a pdf...

4 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:30 am

With George very much on my mind yesterday afternoon, I took my kids to see Despicable Me. It's about an aging super villain, who so desperately wants to stay on top of his game he devises a scheme to shrink and steal the moon. [spoiler alert] Inevitably, with the help of 3 orphaned girls, he has a change of heart. As we were leaving the theater, as I always do, I asked my sons, which part of the story they liked best. Being silly little boys, their initial reaction was that they most enjoyed the eye-poking, tongue-wagging slapstick of the villain's minions. Me? I most enjoyed the villain's [voiced by a Boris sounding Steve Carrel) cartoonishly ruthless antics BEFORE his change of heart. His ruthless determination clearly stemming from insecurity, and a lifelong inability to please his mother. Despicable Me was not, but could have been about George, except, of course, that when George stole the moon, he never gave it back.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:33 am

The Fay Vincent article is pathetic. It's incredible that he uses Steinbrenner's death to try and repair his own damaged reputation. Vincent's reprehensible behavior surrounding the Steinbrenner investigation and suspension has been well documented. Instead of throwing stones, Vincent should worry about his glass house. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by Vincent's poor taste.

6 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:33 am

my girlfriend's parents got me the Madden book for my birthday, I'm finishing up Jonathan Eig's Jackie Robinson book after that I think George has now moved past Anthony Bourdain for second on the depth chart.

Picked up the morning papers today, so many great stories. Joel Sherman in the post was great, the News has a full magazine insert. Both are worth a look. They'll be going in the drawer with the World Series and Super Bowl papers.

7 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:36 am

I remain curious - has anyone seen anything from Sweet Lou about George's passing?

[0] You make a great point, Alex - all the Old Timers Days and 25 retired instructors in spring training - not to mention guys who got jobs with the organization - The Boss paid for that stuff. He was an s.o.b., but he was loyal.

Oh, and Sterling. I haven't seen the YES special yet, but . . . I heard Sterling talk about George on WCBS radio (it was available as a podcast, so I listened driving to work this morning) - and my God, he was fantastic. Phenomenal. His cadence, his tone, it was beautiful. He made me laugh, he brought a tear to my eye, he made me smile. I could have listened to him talk for an hour. Completely unlike his bloated, cliche-ridden, "you're on the Mark, Teixiera!" schtick during games. For a moment, I was actually proud that he's the guy that does Yankees radio broadcasts . . . and then I thought:

Why the $#$! doesn't he broadcast games that way?!?!?!

Still, very much worth a listen.

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:36 am

[5] I mean you had to know what you were getting into with reading Vincent today. He's just a bitter, and kinda sad, old man at this point. Who I'd like to see a remembrance from is Marvin Miller.

9 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:38 am

7)Shaun do you have a link for that podcast?

10 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:38 am

[3] I'd definitely like to read it...I'll email you later in the day.

I've never read the Schapp bio, but was meaning to after reading Madden's book. The only problem is so much happened after it was written. What do you think made it better than the Madden bio?

11 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:39 am

I brought this up on the ASG thread last night, but wfan.com has posted Suzyn Waldman's midnight interview with George from 3/1/93 complete with George taking calls from some Yankee fans who were none too pleased with his return. I highly, highly recommend it.

they also put up the audio of the George/Yogi reunion special from '99, I haven't listened since that day but I'm gonna give it a listen later today.

12 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:40 am

[7] there was a nice quote from Lou in I think Madden's article in the NY Daily News. Thought of him as a 2nd father, thanked him for the opportunities, etc. Heartfelt stuff. I imagine Lou will write a helluva book about his years in the game, and George will be a huge part of it. I wish he'd write a book only about his relationship with George.

13 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:41 am

[7] He used to broadcast that way. Thanks for the heads up. I was traveling yesterday and missed all the coverage (as well as the banter here). I'll be catching up all week.

14 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:49 am

[5] Did you and I read the same article? I think Vincent was very fair. The Boss was undoubtedly flawed - but Vincent spent 4 sentences, just 102 words, on the suspension and re-admission. He then spent the next 30+ sentences and almost 400 words on two incredibly kind acts George did. I just don't see it, william. Sorry.

[0] Re: the estate tax, I can't believe, given the Boss's poor health the last two years, that the family didn't have a plan in place to make sure they minimized any possible estate tax hit (there are lots of ways to it). In fact, I'd be shocked if they didn't. That the Post had to go back to 1990 and use Joe Robbie's family as an example says something. To use a more recent example, the Maras and Tischs certainly were fine when Bob Tisch and Wellington Mara both died - the Giants did not change ownership.

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:50 am


Perhaps cause he realizes he wouldn't have had this lucrative job without George?

16 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:52 am

[7] Yes: you have to get it from iTunes (its called "Yankees Rewind", its basically a mixed portion of the postgame coverage with lots of WCBS ads thrown in) and the link to subscribe in iTunes is:


[12] Thanks, Sliced. I'd just like to hear Lou curse about George one more time. I imagine, when the book comes, there will be plenty of cursing.

17 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:53 am

10) Much more stuff in Schaap's book on George's childhood, his early days in business, through the Nixon suspension stuff. Actually drew heavily on the Kornheiser piece. But yeah, it's incomplete because it was written so long ago. But the stuff on his early years is much stronger than Madden, who basically skipped that stuff altogether.

18 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 14, 2010 9:53 am

[15] Sterling actually tells a funny story about that, Diane. It explains why, perhaps, no matter how schtick-y Sterling has gotten over the years, George never went looking for anyone else.

[11] Thanks! I am definitely going to listen to those.

19 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:00 am

Hey, thanks for all your thoughts, friends. You guys make this place beautiful.
Thanks especially to Alex and Shaun for the Sterling tip: who knew? And to Raging for the Waldman interview. Will definitely be checking all this treasure out.

Sic transit gloria mundi or: Steinbrenner, brevis, Yankees, longus.

20 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:00 am

[19] Actually, it should "longi." Forgive my Latin.

21 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:04 am

[17] I haven't read Schaap's bio of George, but speaking of the Nixon suspension, Charlie Pierce had a bit on it in his blog yesterday that I found fascinating.

I think the earlier stuff is the more interesting stuff, because I wasn't around for those days. I lived through the 80s, 90s, etc. I remember it well. I'll probably still read Madden's book at some point.

22 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:07 am

[21] yeah I always remember hearing that there was more to the Nixon thing than what was talked about. Basically that he was strong armed by CREEP to give the donation, which with the benefit of hindsight and everything we later learned about that operation makes sense.

23 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:11 am

Breslin on Steinbrenner. Do I agree with Jimmy on everything? No, but he's Jimmy Freakin' Breslin...attention must be paid.


24 Bama Yankee   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:18 am

Thanks for posing the links. I will have to check those out later (I missed a lot of the coverage yesterday).

Good for the Steinbrenner family if they actually avoided having to sell the Yankees to pay the Death Tax (although, I agree with Shaun that they probably had a plan in place to avoid being devasted by it).

25 bp1   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:21 am

Anyone heard from Brian Cashman? I was surprised he was not part of the YES special at all.

26 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:21 am

Listening to the Waldman interview now, it's fabulous.
Such a charismatic fucker, the old son of a bitch was.
I'd have loved to have a few beers with this guy.

27 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:33 am

[14] The problem with the article (I just posted on it) is twofold. First, his version of events is flat out wrong. Why does he feel the need to keep arguing his case? Is the death of Steinbrenner really the right time? Secondly, amid the two mentions of his charitable deeds are repeated criticisms. Again, why is that needed on the day after he died?

It's fine to bring out his flaws, but Vincent was heavy handed, which is even worse coming from an adversary who decided to use the occassion of a man's death to justify his own flawed life.

28 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 14, 2010 10:36 am

[17] Yep...Madden stuck to what he new best, which was his tenure as Yankees owner.

[24] I am pretty sure they have a transition plan in place.

29 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 14, 2010 12:37 pm

Jays deal Alex Gonzalez to Braves for Yuni Escobar

30 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 14, 2010 1:07 pm

[14] Yeah, I'm with you Shaun, I just don't see it either.

31 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 14, 2010 1:16 pm
32 Raf   ~  Jul 14, 2010 1:28 pm

[29] That's odd. I guess the Braves didn't like Yuni

33 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 14, 2010 2:53 pm

[32] From the Braves fans over at BBTF, evidently there were lots of clubhouse issues, seems like the Braves management got fed up with waiting for Yuni to grow up ...

34 YankeeAbby   ~  Jul 14, 2010 3:04 pm

I don't know how to do that tiny URL thingie - but the Red Sox site had a nice article about The Boss. One thing I liked

"Prior to Thursday night's game at Fenway Park against the Rangers, the Red Sox will hold a moment of silence in Steinbrenner's memory"


The rivalry seems to be more between the fans than anything else, and I will always root against them, but they've given their props to George, and I think that's kind of cool.

35 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 14, 2010 3:07 pm


Yuni had a brutal game against the Mets last weekend .... lost a pop fly behind short, and later lollipopped a throw to Glaus that nearly got Troy's arm taken off by Francoeur.

36 Start Spreading the News   ~  Jul 15, 2010 11:52 am

The Boss did have a good sense of humor as well:

This SNL skit was pretty funny.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver