"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Trust Me, If Hell Freezes Over, He’ll be Skating

Ah, love me some Bill Lee.

[Photo Credit: Houston Sports Rapp]

Tags:  Bill Lee  george steinbrenner

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1 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 19, 2010 4:52 pm

part of me says "fuck Bill Lee", but theres also a part of me that thinks George would love this

2 lroibal   ~  Jul 19, 2010 5:31 pm

{1} Yup, one last back page.

3 Evil Empire   ~  Jul 19, 2010 8:51 pm

I'll break ranks here and respectfully say that if Bill Lee is joking, then fine, whatever.

But if Bill Lee is genuinely serious about his mean and ugly comments then fuck that piece of shit. And I'm glad his arm got hurt in a fight with the Yankees.

4 The Hawk   ~  Jul 19, 2010 9:37 pm

Steinbrenner was an asshole, so it's no surprise his death gets this kind of response from other assholes. This is how they send one another off.

5 Dimelo   ~  Jul 19, 2010 9:40 pm

[4] Succinct and so true. Great job, Hawk!!!

6 RIYank   ~  Jul 19, 2010 9:46 pm

[4] Clap clap clap clap.
So logical, and (as Huxley said when he finished reading "The Origin of Species"), how stupid not to have thought of it oneself.

7 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jul 19, 2010 9:47 pm

[4] YES! AND the FOUL!

8 Mattpat11   ~  Jul 19, 2010 10:41 pm

Where the fuck did they even find Bill Lee? Last I heard he was in Cuba telling us what a paradise the Castros created.

9 thelarmis   ~  Jul 19, 2010 11:03 pm

yeah, fuck that fucking spaceman piece of shit. classless son of a bitch...

[8] i think he's in enemy territory. he was part of at least one of josh wilker's book signings in that area...

10 thelarmis   ~  Jul 19, 2010 11:19 pm

fuck :

dice-klay has allowed only 1 hit and 1 walk thru 5. shit sox up 2-1. tampon won...

11 The Mick536   ~  Jul 20, 2010 10:09 am

I love Bill Lee. Greg Nettles ruined his career, going into the Pete Rose category is hold in disrespect. Read Lally's book on him. He is a one of a kind. And, in addition to his not liking George, he also didn't like Zimmer. For both of those reasons, it is clear he is a student of people.

I think the General, Ralph Houk, had similar things to say about George when he left for Detroit, so don't diss Bill Lee. You just don't understand that George got old and gained credibility, if not respect, in the same way as buildings and old whores.

You more recent additions to the Yankee fan club should put George in perspective. I never gave him any credit for 1978, one of the greatest in Yankee history, a year when many of you would have been jumping from bridges in early August. And everyone took him seriously when he threatened to move the Stadium, extorting a deal with his cronies, doing everything for himself and nothing for the South Bronx.

And, how many of you read the papers from the advent of George to the first Championship season? Everyone hated him. Mike Burke even regretted selling the team to him. Name another owner suspended twice. Did he ever fund Winfield's charity? He groused and the team lost. He bought the biggest collection of aging stick drek to the ballpark, criticizing players, firing managers, while he made himself the story. Had he not been suspended, the core of the championship teams may never have been assembled.

Don't understand Reggies tears. Reggie forgave him. I never did.

Ask the people in the South Bronx about the field they never got. Better yet ask the many ordinary people who lost jobs when George crippled the shipping industry on the Lake in Cleveland and then closed the business down, using some of the money to finance the Yankees. He didn't move to Tampa for nothing. I'll bet if you lined up the people he helped and the people he hurt, you would find that you recognized the people in the latter line which would stretch out far further than the first.

12 The Mick536   ~  Jul 20, 2010 10:13 am

Just one more point before I go for a walk, George took a conviction, a Federal felony, for lying. I am less concerned with that than I am with the underlying problem. It is not so much that he violated campaign laws, but that he needed secret access to Government to get away with what he got away with on the Lake. How many of you need a President or a Senator in your pocket to do your job? George was not a man of the people. The money he gave to save a few, while noble, may not have been given with disinterested generosity!

13 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 20, 2010 10:49 am

[11/12] I respect my elders, so I'll tread lightly, but...

And, how many of you read the papers from the advent of George to the first Championship season? Everyone hated him. Mike Burke even regretted selling the team to him.

...and your point is what exactly? That an executive who presided over the darkest days in franchise history got his feelings hurt? The day Mike Burke walked away from the Yankees was the day they began to climb back into relevance. We all owe him a debt for negotiating the renovation deal (a deal, coincidentally enough just as greedy, if not more-so considering the economic climate of 1973 NYC, as the New Stadium deal. But you leave that part out.)

Ask the people in the South Bronx about the field they never got.

you mean the one currently under construction and scheduled to open next year?

Better yet ask the many ordinary people who lost jobs when George crippled the shipping industry on the Lake in Cleveland and then closed the business down

if you're really blaming George Steinbrenner for the collapse of the midwestern industrial base in the post-war years, well sorry but I'm just not buying that. The reasons for the rise of the Rust Belt can't be laid at the feet of any one person, to toss it on Steinbrenner is just revisionist history.

14 The Mick536   ~  Jul 20, 2010 2:05 pm

[13] Sorry that you don't understand. I was more able to deal with Topping and Webb depleting the farm system so they could get out than I was with the period between 1979 and 1995. Everything was about George and not the team.

I don't agree that the day Burke stepped out was the day the Yanks started to make their climb. They could have won in Houk's last year, a failure I suggest which should be laid at George's feet.

I am not revising anything. When you are as powerful as George Steinbrenner, you write the history as you want it. Orwell explained it in 1984. George and his publicity crew honed it.

Baseball was headed into the tubes when he took over. Baseball needed New York's franchises to be strong to survive. Just remember who won in 1969. No one wanted to go to see the Yankees.

Read the US Supreme Court decision in American Shipbuilding. It was the beginning of the true death if the American Labor Movement. He had run all the other shipping firms out of business, as he took over the company his father had built, using business practices that earned him the enmity of many in the area. The great Titans of the shipping industry on the Lake traded aged vessels which they then depreciated and resold among themselves, taking advantage of laws too esoteric to be described in a blog. Then,he virtually put his own company out of business by not making contracts for the upcoming season rather than negotiating with his union. In the interim, he made upwards, according to Golenbock of 70 milliion a year. I contend without hard facts and just a modicum of cynicism that he probably bought the legislators and the legislation that enabled him to do that. And, to be fair, he probably did it with the democrats, as well as the republicans, since the type of bundling he got caught doing was de riguer for the time.

George was the object of scorn for his conduct. Many people in Cleveland didn't trust him. He had renegged or come up short in a couple of deals involving a sports franchise at the time in the Industrial Basketball League. And while I won't say that his conduct rose to the level of the guy who moved the Browns or the large hoopster who moved to Miami, he was not even loved enough to have been able to buy the Indians. Joe Nocera in Saturday's NYT contends that the reason for the inability to buy the Indians was that Stouffer was a drunk, which could be true. Golenbock suggests that an additional reason could have been that George was having an affair with Stouffer's wife, in addition to the fact that it wasn't clear that he could come up with the scratch.

His purchase of Catfish Hunter, some would say was an act of genius. But remember, George was not a fan of free agency. He just got lucky when that idiot who owned the A's reneged on what seemed to be an insignificant term of the contract, one which Hunter had inserted to provide, if my recollection is correct, for the education of his kids, in the event something happened to him. Then he just bought while everyone else had their backs turned. Not all of the signings were great or successful, but the team came on, winning in 1976 (PENNANT), and then in 1977 (BRONX ZOO), and 1978 (THE WAYYY BACK MACHINE). Then what, stick dreck for 15 years. And don't give me any Thurman stuff; he was toast by 1979, and it wasn't clear he would even stay in New York, preferring CLEVELAND, as he did.

As for the field, my recollection was that George promised to build a ballfield or fields after the initial renovation, one which, I may add, that could have, but did not, include a football field. My recollection, though I may be mistaken, is that George took the additional land and built a parking lot.

The field was also reconfigured in a way that caused or allowed the NY Giants to desert NYC for NJ where they are now known as the Giants. I know that an investigation was conducted into how the property was divided during the renovation and I know that whatever was supposed to be done to revitalize Hunt's Point, the market, and the surrounding area was not done. I don't know exactly what the results of the investigation were, or if I do, I cannot tell you, but I know it led to changes in how bids are taken on projects such as this. Hard to believe that he didn't know or didn't participate in any of the decision making, especially in light of the fact he was purchasing the franchise. But anything is possible.

And, just remember who paid for the renovations of the Stadium, renovations some of which were stupid and others inadequate, and who benefitted. We paid for the overruns. He, and who knows who else, got the profits. And think about what would have happened to that area of the South Bronx had he gotten his way and moved to Manhattan or wherever the hell else he threatened to take the team.

15 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 20, 2010 2:43 pm

[14] I don't know the details of the American Shipbuilding case, so I'll defer to you on that one (FWIW I'm about as pro-Union as they come, so its not like I'd necessarily put it past management to sell an entire workforce up the river).

The parkland I was referring to was what will eventually be "Tradition Field" on the site of the original stadium, so we were just talking about two different things. I've been pretty vocal about the fact that I think the team is obligated to replace any and all parkland they destroy in the construction of the new stadium, and that they shouldn't be taking any bows for doing so. They're merely giving the people of the neighborhood what they're owed.

The renovation deal was no doubt a sweetheart deal (as is any major construction project in the five boroughs), but one that was negotiated by Burke. I don't necessarily blame Yankee management for soaking Lindsay for all the city was worth, I blame Lindsay for acquiescing.

The Yankees obligation is to look out for themselves and (presumably) their fans, Lindsay's obligation was to look out for the most vulnerable of New Yorkers. The Yankees did their job there, John V. didn't. If I'm going to get mad at anyone there, its him. The empty threats to move the team were just that, empty threats. I can't get any more mad at that than get mad at Bernie for "almost, maybe, might about to do it, I'm really serious this time you guys" signing with Boston in '98.

As for the Giants, as someone who grew up 10 minutes from the municipal behemoth known as The Meadowlands I feel safe in saying that all that happened there was Mara fleeing a (at the time) dying city for the sweetheart deals of all sweetheart deals in East Rutherford. We can do a whole other blog post on St. Wellington, but I'm not gonna put that one on the Yankees. The Giants (and Jets) do just fine in the greed department on their own.

Now for actual baseball (finally), I think you have to give him at least some credit for '76-'81. Martin, Paul, Rosen, and the rest of them play a bigger part for sure, but at the end of the day they still needed George to sign the checks. Remember, had it not been for him the big off-season acquisition to get the Yankees over the hump in '77 would've been Joe Rudi. Now nothing against Joe Rudi, but Joe Rudi isn't about to hit 5 home runs in a World Series.

He turned the team into a circus for the better part of a decade, I'll never say he didn't. But I'll always take an owner whose greatest crime is caring too much over one who is apathetic. Thats just me.

16 The Mick536   ~  Jul 21, 2010 2:58 pm

I don't believe for a second that Burke negotiated the deal. I think I know who it was but I need some proof.

Lemon, too.

I give him credit in the same way I avoid gourmonds and prefer gourmets.

As for Mara, I still don't know enough about the ownerships of the stadium over the years and the kickbacks, but I have to say that they could have reconfigured the stadium for football, even if Mara was taking the Giants elsewhere. I have not been able to find out why they didn't, despite some diligent investigating in the years following the renovation.

And, thank you for the interesting dialogue and courtesy.

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