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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

The Steinbrenner conundrum

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Mar 27, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

It was a nice scene today as George Steinbrenner, surrounded by his family, saw the field renamed in his honor.

People lined up to say what a great man he is and how much he has done for charity. By all accounts, they are exactly right. He has put kids through college, helped wounded servicemen, donated to countless organizations, etc.

I had people tell me today that there are literally hundreds of good acts he has done that have gone unpublicized. In Florida, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, etc. Do you know he donates thousands to the Jimmy Fund, the official charity of the Red Sox?

But there were also hundreds of people who heard about today’s ceremony and were probably sick to their collective stomachs.

Steinbrenner is also the same guy who has fired dozens of employees for no reason. He has made life miserable for some people who worked at his stadiums, his horse farm and his hotels. He once fired a dozen people who worked for the team because he was upset with a new CBA between the owners and the MLBPA.

Jokes are made about it now, but it wasn’t funny for the people who ruined their marriages or had to uproot their families.

Steinbrenner gave illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon and hired a small-time crook to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield. Those offenses got him suspended from baseball. Hank Steinbrenner has said many times that he wanted nothing to do with the Yankees for years because he couldn’t stand working for his father.

He’s an infirm old man, so he’ll get a pass from most of us. I suspect all of the stories tomorrow will reflect well on him, as they probably should. Fans tend to overlook the past because Steinbrenner spends money on the roster. They tend to forget that he charges high prices for tickets and concessions and that next season only the wealthy will sit anywhere close to the field. Or that the Yankees were mismanaged for years under his watch.

There’s no easy answer to this. He’s been a good guy and he’s been a bad guy. As with most things in life, there is no absolute right or wrong, only shades of gray. Those he did right by will love him. Those he tormented will hate him.

But nobody will forget him, that we do know.


Meanwhile, these guys rank our blog No. 25 in the country in terms of popularity. I may pull a Pavano and retire.





72 Responses to “The Steinbrenner conundrum”

  1. NJ in Tampa March 27th, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Wow, Pete.

  2. rbizzler March 27th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The Boss has certainly been a polarizing figure, but my respect for him has increased as he has mellowed in his old age.

    I will always enjoy the image of him directing traffic in the Stadium garage after he fired (and rehired) all of the parking attendants.

  3. Yewnork March 27th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Everyone has their flaws Pete. You’re a Pats fan, right?

  4. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:14 pm


    Everyone know this blog ranks higher than #25. Damn Technorati rating.

    I CAN NOT believe that that piece of crap 38 pitches blog got rated higher. I think he paid off the Technorati people.

  5. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    And don’t pull a Pavano. It’s not worth being incapacitated.

  6. Yazman March 27th, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    “Meanwhile, these guys rank our blog No. 25 in the country in terms of popularity.”

    That’s phenomenal, Peter. Congrats. Awesome #s. At quick glance it looks like you’re the #1 Yankees blog.

  7. Brandon (supporting the new movement "Alex being Alex") March 27th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    *cough* Rbiizler continueing our talk :)

    Rblizzer you got a point but this system needs those LHPs and there are alot in this draft.

    now if Yonder Alonso or Pedro Alvarez fall to us because of signability oh no doubt you take them. My eyes are on Christian Fredereich, Anthony Grose and Michael Montgomery also Tim Murphy

  8. Jeff NJ March 27th, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Wow Pete, you admit there is black and white. That is not what you said when Pettitte got caught doing HGH. You said he is either guilty or innocent, there is no in between. You were right tonight and wrong then. In almost all circumstances in this little adventure we call life, there are degrees of everything. Tonight, you got it right.

  9. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Mission 2708 March 27th, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Steinbrenner is what we all are: human.

    Because he does greater things, he also has greater faults.


    25? That’s it? No rest till we’re #1, I say.

  10. Jeff NJ March 27th, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    I meant to say, you admit there are shades of gray, not everything is black and white. I agree, however that is not what you said re Pettitte and HGH.

  11. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    They’re thinking of putting Pettitte on the DL retroactively to be activated for the Tampa series.

    Who’s a candidate to be taken up for a few days? Maybe Patterson?

    Also they should have the roster set by end of Saturday.;c_id=nyy

  12. David March 27th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Please learn the history about his illegal campaign contributions. He was extorted by CREEP to give that money as were many other businesses. Read Tip O’Neill’s book for the details.

  13. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Why am I forced to watch Louisville/Tenneessee on my side of the world? I have no vested interest, who do you guys want me to cheer for?

  14. Jeff NJ March 27th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Mel, I need Tennesee, plus is will make a great story if they can come back from down 16.

  15. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Jeff NJ,

    Quit picking that scab! :)

    You know today was the first day I thought about Roger Clemens in a long time. Spring training & all the excitement of the upcoming season made me forget about all that rubbish.

    Imagine if Roger kept his mouth shut. It would have just faded away into obscurity.

  16. Drew March 27th, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    You people who became fans in ’96 need to stop drinking the George Kool-Aid. He was the king jerk for many years and the Yankees turned things around when he got suspended.

  17. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Jeff NJ,

    Good a reason as any. Any men’s coach who can openly admit that the women’s coach is the BMOC is okay in my book. I love the antics between Pearl & Summit.

  18. Rich March 27th, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Talk about expensive seats next year. The cheapest premium seat (Like a Tier Box) is going to be $100 per game. That’s almost twice as much as my seats today in Section 295. They make billions..we pay billions.gotta love the good old USA.

  19. Jeff NJ March 27th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Drew, I don’t think anyone on here said that George was the world’s best GM. His decisions were often rash and ego driven. However, he spent more money on the best players because he wanted his team to win, plus it is bad karma to bash a sick old man.

  20. Nick in SF March 27th, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Yes, the Big Stein has his faults, but he was great on Seinfeld.

    I just wrote on the last thread:

    That drawing of the new Mrs. Matsui is hilarious; it’s Hideki with long hair!

    I just got back home from Las Vegas, where I had the pleasure of betting against the Red Sox and winning and also a little poker.

  21. Jeff NJ March 27th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Mel, I don’t know about any of the Ten coaches relationship, but they are back within 9 now. So I’m a bit happier.

  22. epi March 27th, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    you’re gonna have to do something to get past schilling on this list.

  23. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Jeff NJ,

    Summitt dressed up in a cheerleader’s outfit and Pearl went shirtless with body paint. Or was it vice versa?

  24. Tom NJ March 27th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    “pull a Pavano”? how long does that take to heal?

  25. rackem March 27th, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Tom, about 4 years and $40 million worth of healing

  26. Baja March 27th, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    TomNJ: When you injure your Pavano, it never really heals.

    I was so pissed when George was allowed to come back. That being said, it was his money that made the Yankees what they are today. Well, I guess some of it was ours first.

  27. mel March 27th, 2008 at 10:52 pm


    Here’s a scoop for an investigative report. Does Mrs. Matsui really exist?

    Check out this commercial:

    Godzilla’s in there and Matsui’s sketch of his “wife” looks suspiciously similar to the Japanese girl in the commercial.

  28. PAT M. March 27th, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    I played in the Organization ( 71-73 ) when he took over the team from CBS…..I remember him bitching to Mike Burke about everyone’s hair being to long…..Love him or hate, he’s a HOF Yankee who rebuilt the face of the Yankees for the past 2 generations…..

  29. sean March 27th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Steinbrenner may be an ass, but he is unquestionably the best owner in sports. The guy pays extra money every year in penalties because he does not care about anything other than winning. As a fan, how could you not love that? Ask Marlins fans if they would swap owners.

  30. Whitey Fraud March 27th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Forgive but never forget.

  31. Yazman March 27th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Can you imagine how we’d all feel if we had one of those owners who really didn’t care much about winning?

    Hats off to George for being a fan and an owner.

    If you’re listening Hank and Hal, keep up that awesome tradition. But do consider investing a little more in opportunities for the non-wealthy fans.

  32. Richard March 27th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Wow pete, i think the old man is human, that’s all.

    i give the guy a pass since, it would appear, his son has.

  33. pat March 27th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I’ve had worse bosses.

    No question that George has been a dictator but in many cases a benevolent one. I have admired his willingness to give people second chances, his desire to field a winning product and his anonymous philanthropic activities.

    Whenever he used to mouth off, I used to remember Joe Torre saying, you know what you’re in for and if you cash his check, you play by his rules.

  34. BklynYank March 27th, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    let the old man go quietly and think of only the good times

  35. gayle March 27th, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    As often happens when people get older people tend to forget the bad things or the negative things they did and only remember the good.

    Nobody is perfect and nobody is all good or all bad.

    One of the best stories I read about George that I think says a lot about him is that he had an secretary who had been with him for years and one day something happened (certainly nothing one would consider major or fireable) he lost his temper and fired her on the spot. But a few days or maybe weeks later he called her and told her he would pay for her kids college educations which he did.

    I think the thing that all Yankees fan can relate to is that he much like the fans cares about winning and when the team doesnt do well like fans he doesnt accept it or like it. He makes plenty of money but unlike a ot of owners who pcoket all the extras (see Polan on Minny) he puts it back into the team and is using his own monet to build the stadium unlike Polan who can very much afford it asks the taxpayers to pay for the stadium.

    Now mind you in the in the early and middle George days I was not a Yankees fan but a Philies fan (who also had a great owner Ruly Carpenter) so I cant says what it was like back then and how people felt about George but you can certainly appreciate what he has meant to the Yankees and to the cities of New Yrk and Tampa.

    BY the way his suspension in the 80s is what will probably cost him the Hall of Fame.

  36. sean March 27th, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Gayle, you had me until the 5th paragraph. You cant just switch teams. Believe me, Im a Jets fan, sometimes I wish I could.

  37. PAT M. March 27th, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    His felony rap for the Nixon Slush Fund contributions was squashed ….He recieved a full pardon…..As for the Winfield / Spiro deal, I cannot imagine it’s going to cost him the Hall……He’s the most famous Sports Owner in history….Kinda like the Babe Ruth of owners….His legacy will grow after his passing…They’ll never be another George Stienbrenner in our life time…..

  38. Buddy Biancalana March 27th, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Pat M.

    Did you ever make it to the big show?

  39. Clay Bellinger March 27th, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Sounds like Boss Man wouldnt give Pete an exclusive….

  40. george March 27th, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    i’ve been up and down on Stein. but in 2008, looking back at his tenure, his direction restored the Yankees to being the Yankees.

    here’s a stat that measures what George has done with the Yankees: in 1972, before George bought the team, the Mets had over 2 million in attendance. the Yanks had around 970,000.

  41. Clay Bellinger March 27th, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Steinbrenner is a bad man who ruined marriages and peoples lives. Wow.

  42. Jim Clark March 27th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Abraham does a good job listing some of the mans many-sided personality, both good and bad. I am a little confused about the high price of tickets remark. This coming from a man who in December was blasting east Rutherford Giants fans because some were selling their tickets so they wouldn’t sit outside for 4 hours on a December night? And how expensive are Red Sox tickets anyways?

  43. PAT M. March 27th, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    No Buddy….2 weeks in Syracuse..One Season West Haven…Did make two Spring Trainings, but back thenm alot of guys did……

  44. Buddy Biancalana March 28th, 2008 at 12:02 am


    That’s still pretty amazing, closest I ever got to the majors was dating a relative of Casey Stengel.

  45. catjya March 28th, 2008 at 12:10 am

    We yankees fans know Big Stein’s history all too well.
    Did you really need to bring up all the negatives?I think that’s what you call a ~bass akwards~ complement Pete.

    As far s the lohud Blogs rating is concerned alexa ratings are best the lower your number, not the higher,so that alone makes lohud blog rate above 25,and to behind curt schilling et al,who could take this seriously.

  46. Peter T March 28th, 2008 at 12:31 am

    You used the correct word, Pete, conundrum. How do you reconcile the good stuff he has done with all of the bad? And, I imagine most fans would be a lot less generous towards him if the Yankees were playing their games in the Meadowlands right now like George once wanted.

    But, good or bad, the guy has clearly earned a spot in the HOF.

  47. brian March 28th, 2008 at 12:34 am

    hey i went thru the lean years-I rember going to the stadiumn and I counted 63 people in the staidum-thats not a lie I sat in every section that game.It was 88 I believe-I would go to games by myself as a kid.The post that said he was a fan is dead on-he was a just a man. Love him or hate him he did what he thought was right.The thing that disturbs me is that next year, like pete said, who will be able to go to games? I was 14 years old, and I could go to a game and get a tix.Those days are over.Sad really

  48. Kellex March 28th, 2008 at 12:37 am

    #25 on my list is pretty good actually! That is the top Yankees blog. Remember it is a list of sports blogs and not just baseball. Not bad if you ask me…

    I’m sure you’ll move up by the time I drop the next edition. :)

  49. Drew March 28th, 2008 at 1:03 am

    We need to get this blog ahead of 38 pitches. That guy is a clown and Pete does an awesome job. Plus it’s Yankees/Chowds.

  50. gayle March 28th, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Sean i have not switched team I am still a die hard Phillies fan and still have season tickets and being as they are in different leagues I dont have to deal with the idea of them facing each other until they get to the World Series.

  51. Guga March 28th, 2008 at 1:54 am

    C’mon guys… Shilling a bigger draw? Let’s spread the word here for our boy Pete. I am still in shock that 38 pitches is ranked higher.

    Now that Shilling has all that extra time on his fat ass he’ll probably be hitting that refresh key a bit harder this year!

  52. Countdown (tick, tick, tick) March 28th, 2008 at 2:28 am

    The HOF is overrated.

    They’ve snubbed Billy Martin, Curt Flood, Marvin Miller, Buck O’Neil, and many more.

    DiMaggio didn’t make it until the second ballot. Hank Greenberg didn’t make it until the eighth ballot. Bill Veeck had to die before they let him in.

  53. Yeah!! March 28th, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Wow, I thought this blog was well ahead of others.

  54. Doreen March 28th, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Pete -

    Conundrum! That’s the word. I was sitting at my computer last night, reading all the glowing words about Steinbrenner, but resisting the urge to post, because what I wanted to say was pretty much what you just wrote and I couldn’t think of the one word that described how I felt.

    Mr. Steinbrenner has, big picture, done a great deal for the Yankees, sometimes in spite of his actions. And he wasn’t always a benevolent dictator – sometimes just a dictator. The Yankees franchise, however, has grown economically and in popularity and the man does put his money where his mouth is.

    I was as relieved as many when he was suspended and an air of normalcy returned to the Yankees. When he returned, I was afraid everything would go back to the way it was, but it did not. I guess George liked the results.

    Anyway, it was a nice day yesterday. It brought tears to my eyes. It can’t be denied that he has done many good works, and it was nice to see him honored in that way. He must have felt very proud. Watching him hug Derek Jeter was a priceless moment.

    Sean -

    It is possible to switch allegiances. I was a Mets fan as a teen and into my early 20s. Then I got married, and eventually had two children. For about 5 or so years, maybe more, my interest in my kids far surpassed my interest in baseball, and so my husband, the Yankees fan, had total control of the sports coming into our home. Prior to that, we tried to split the time. So, when I was ready to return to baseball (having a little more spare time), I had no idea who any of the Mets were – from who was on the team to who was in the announcers box, but I was familiar with the Yankees. So, it just took off from there. And here I am, commenting on a Yankees blog, and telling my husband all about his Yankees! :)

    Pete, congrats on being #25 in the country! It’s a big country with a lot of blogs. Not too shabby, I think.

  55. gargoyle March 28th, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Steinbrenner’s acumen as a businessman is over-rated. His first desire was to buy the Cleveland Indians. He happened to buy the Yankees when both the franchise and the sport were at the nadir of popularity. He rode the crest of the wave (people seem to ignore the enormous impact that true free agency had on the re-invigoration of the game) to vast profits – but he was and is no genius.

    Steinbrenner has made no effort to improve the neighborhood surrounding Yankee Stadium. If he were truly a great businessman he would have bought and improved property around the stadium (as the Red Sox ownership has done wity Fenway Park) and made the area a place where people might actually want to spend a few hours (and a few bucks) instead of a place to be in and out of as quickly as possible.

  56. Doreen March 28th, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Gargoyle -

    Yes, he did buy the Yankees at their nadir, however, he did actually improve the franchise and put money back into it. He did recognize the great history of the franchise and used that history as the stepping stone to rebuilding the name.

    And while you say he rode the crest of the free agency wave, I would argue that he was the first owner to truly take advantage of the new system. Of course, some would say it was not so good that he so overbid other teams that the result is what we have today: very mediocre players being paid millions of dollars.

    As far as improving the area around the stadium, I’m not familiar at all with whether that was something he never intended to do, intended to do but was thwarted politically, or whatever else. I will agree with you, however, that it sure would have been very nice, to say the least, if either he or the City of New York had invested in that area, for the reasons you stated. But the outer boroughs of the City are often overlooked.

  57. bronxbomber77 March 28th, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Re: Curt Schilling’s blog…

    Wouldn’t the fact that a number of media outlets visit his blog daily help boost his ratings? I mean, the guy really only ‘talks through his blog’ at this stage in his career, so I’m sure the Globe, the Herald, the ProJo, et al, have people refreshing every half hour for a breaking news tidbit…

    IE, how many 20-pc Chicken McNugget orders Schill put away that day…. who won the Denny’s Grand Slam-a-thon between Schill and El Fatolo Calzone (Bartolo Colon)…. How much John McCain rocks, etc…

    38pitches is the worst addition to literature in the last 100 years, right behind that silly High Times magazine….

  58. John in Ohio March 28th, 2008 at 7:54 am


    When I first started reading this I thought you were gonna gloss it over. But man, You told it like it is, and how. I think I remember a story about Steinbrenner taking medical benefits away from office staff, after signing a free agent to a whopping contract. He’s been a great owner for us Yankees’ fans, but the nasty stuff he’s done cannot be explained away.

  59. Will March 28th, 2008 at 8:05 am

    In assessing Steinbrenner’s mark as a man, I’d much prefer to give weight to charitable activities done on behalf of the less fortunate, then focus on how tough a boss he may have been to the fortunate. Sure, there are cases of Steinbrenner taking out his wrath on even lower level employees, but for the most part, his image as “Boss” stems from how he has dealt with executives, players and managers. So, I don’t really care if he hired and fired GMs and managers at will (from a moral standpoint) because ultimately those professional were well paid, given guaranteed contracts and fortunate to be in their positions in the first place. Similarly, I don’t care too much that Steinbrenner hired a runt like Howie Spira to dig up dirt on a man to whom he was paying well over $1mn.

    Also, as hard as Steinbrenner was on his employees, he was famous and infamous for giving second, third, fourth and even fifth chances. Also, there are many accounts of a former G.S. employee falling on hard times only to have George lend a helping hand.

    Finally, as for the illegal campaign contribution, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the only “wrong” actions were taken by the Nixon people. Besides, when we go to the Pearly Gates, I don’t think how much money we gave to a politician is weighed too heavily.

    Steinbrenner has been a legendary figure in baseball and in the history of the Yankees. He has also been an extremely generous man and served his community well. I think it’s important to note that this honor was bestowed by the community and not by the Yankees. That speaks volumes for what kind of man he has been.

    Kudos to George! Hopefully, there are many more honors yet to come his way.

  60. 108 stitches March 28th, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Who else could have bought a franchise with as storied history as the Yankees have from a media giant (CBS) for $ 10M and carry it to it’s present worth ?

  61. Felipe from Brazil - Steinfield!!! March 28th, 2008 at 8:34 am

    behind Maple Chedar’s blog Pete??? I know he’s (not intentionally, of course) fun read, but shame on you! ;)
    just kidding! Congrats! It’s well deserved

  62. Joey March 28th, 2008 at 9:04 am

    How the hell does metsblog have more readers than you? Don’t people know the Mets suck?

  63. THU March 28th, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Let the man has his time.

  64. filthy slider March 28th, 2008 at 9:24 am

    the fact that they rated 38 pitches higher than you should discount the whole list.

  65. cool on your island March 28th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Thank you Pete for presenting both sides of the man. Personally I’ve never been able to get my head around the idea that throwing money around somehow buys one absolution.

  66. Drew March 28th, 2008 at 10:15 am

    “# Whitey Fraud March 27th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Forgive but never forget.”

    Well put!

  67. Drew March 28th, 2008 at 10:16 am

    “Steinbrenner may be an ass, but he is unquestionably the best owner in sports.”

    Nonsense. Throwing money at everything doesn’t make you a great owner. Treating your employees like crap doesn’t make you a great owner. Blaming your “baseball people” doesn’t make you a great owner.

  68. sean March 28th, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Nonsense. Throwing money at everything doesn’t make you a great owner. Treating your employees like crap doesn’t make you a great owner. Blaming your “baseball people” doesn’t make you a great owner.

    Drew, Sports as a whole are unpredictable and a great team one year may stink the next. Steinbrenner has made it so you can essentially count on the Yankees fielding a winning team every single year. No other owner in sports can say that. As a fan, you cannot ask for anything more. Before this year, think of the agony all those Mets fans endured when big free agent after big free agent was passed over because they didnt want to pay for it.

    Like I said, he may be an ass, but I wouldnt want any other owner running the team I love.

  69. Steve Balboni March 28th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Who else could have bought a franchise with as storied history as the Yankees have from a media giant (CBS) for $ 10M and carry it to it’s present worth ?

    Uh, anyone with $10M in 1973? And they might not have nearly destroyed the franchise in the 80s, until he was finally banned and baseball people started runnings things.

    As recently as 2 years ago people were bitching about him and his Tampa Mob.

    You people have short memories.

  70. Jon March 28th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    The tickets are too expensive when people stop buying them.

  71. walein March 28th, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Well done Pete!

  72. George March 29th, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Steinbrenner is, was, and always will be the best owner in sports.

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