Dec
04

Thoughts on a weekend at George’s

By

Once the driving force behind the Yankees, George Steinbrenner has faded from public view over the last six or seven years. He no longer roars with the ferocity he displayed in the 1970s and 1980s. He no longer embraces his team as he did when they won in the 1990s. His statements are filtered through a press representative, and his children are in charge of the team.

Still, the Cult of Steinbrenner lives on in the Yankees Universe. As the team celebrated its 27th World Championship last month, Hal Steinbrenner said, “This one’s for you, dad.” George wasn’t at the stadium; he was at home in Tampa, reportedly watching on television.

This week, this attention to George’s role with the Yankees took a turn for the bizarre, and as Bryan Hoch story on MLB.com last night said that the Boss was “active” during the off-season team meetings, a few fans started wondering if we were witnessing a remake of Weekend at Bernie’s. Of course, old age and the health problems that come with it are no laughing matter, but the Yankee leadership’s constant attention to George rings odd.

As the day wore on, and the Yanks’ officials stopped to talk to the press, they maintained a narrative about Steinbrenner’s participation. Brian Cashman spoke with Mark Feinsand. “He wants to win again,” Cashman said. Don’t we all, Brian?

So what, I am left to wonder, is going on here? Is it some quest for a Yankee identity? For the better part of the last four decades, George Steinbrenner and the Yankees were synonymous with each other. Steinbrenner’s fire and drive to win brought the Yankes out of a World Series drought but into dysfunction. His obsessive need to win led to overspending in the 1980s with little results, and by the time the Boss’s legal problems forced him out of the game in the early 1990s, the organization was a mess. In the 1990s, George’s spending along with a tempered temper and more faith in his Baseball People restored the team to greatness.

Now, we don’t quite know what is wrong with him. We know he had a fainting spell back in 2003, but we also know that he has rarely made public statements or conducted in-person interviews since then. Now 79, George seems to be in declining health. We’ve heard rumblings of Alzheimer’s for four or five years, but the Yankees have kept his status close to the vest.

In a way, then, those in charge now want to project the same image of the team that it had when George was there. They want to be known as the team not afraid to spend, spend, spend, and the team that demands perfection in the form of a trophy every year or else.

One day, George will be with us no longer. The Yankees will have to forge ahead with his business-minded son Hal at the helm and a bevy of baseball talent building the Bronx Bombers. For now, as George and his family try to reclaim a tortured legacy, we’ll listen to the Yankees as they honor him and work to build a team with him. The Days of George though — the glory days of rage and insanity — are over.

Categories : Musings

25 Comments»

  1. Rose says:

    The Days of George though — the glory days of rage and insanity — are over.

    Brings a tear to my eye…

  2. One day, George will be with us no longer.

    False. He has learned the power to cheat death.

    /Palpatine’d

  3. JGS says:

    When they renamed Legends Field after him, I was sure that meant he would be dead within a year.

    They want to project the image of George being there without the stupid decisions that were made when he was in full control. I don’t see a problem with that

    • Ed says:

      I never put too much thought into the Legends Field thing. I just took that as a way of honoring him after he was no longer running the show.

      What got me was the “This is for you Boss” talk when the team was presented the championship trophy. That made me think he has to be in really bad shape.

  4. Rose says:

    The Yankees will have to forge ahead with his business-minded son Hal at the helm

    Seems this is the direction all of baseball may head to. Even with the managers. The days of excitement with management and ownership may be over. With a possible addition of more ‘instant replay’, even managers storming out of the dugout kicking dirt on the umpires shoes might go by the wayside.

    Just like the changing of the guard in the new Yankee Stadium (arguably) as the clientele changes their blue collared shirts for white ones…management and ownership seem to be following suit (no pun intended).

  5. Jake H says:

    George was good for the Yanks. I won’t like it when he’s gone.

  6. jsbrendog says:

    it’s about building a legacy. no one wants to see his legacy end in dimensia and insanity. this way they are keeping the aura of the stein alive until he is no longer.

    • Rose says:

      it’s about building a legacy. no one wants to see his legacy end in dimensia and insanity.

      You could argue that the latter was always present…

      …in a good way of course

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      I’d feel the opposite way, but then again, I’m not a prideful person like he is. I’d welcome the opportunity to say and do whatever I want, forget it and not be held accountable for my actions.

    • it’s about building a legacy… this way they are keeping the aura of the stein alive until he is no longer.

      Hal: What’s the matter? What’s bothering you? I’ll handle it. I told you I can handle it, I’ll handle it.
      (pause)
      Big George: I knew Hank was going to have to go through all this and Randy… well, Randy was… But I, I never wanted this for you.
      I work my whole life, I don’t apologize, to take care of my family. And I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That’s my life, I don’t apologize for that. But I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Steinbrenner, Governor Steinbrenner, something.
      Hal: Another pezzonovante.
      Big George: Well, there wasn’t enough time, Hal. There just wasn’t enough time.
      Hal: We’ll get there, Pop. We’ll get there.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      You nailed it. I have been a fan since before George, and early on he was truly a blight on the team. While I have affection for him now, back in the day I HATED him with a passion. When he was thrown out of baseball, I literally danced with joy, and punched walls when he was allowed back in. I guess I have forgiven some of his past digressions, but at the time, they seemed unforgivable.

      Even if The Boss was paralyzed from the neck down, if his mind was still intact, we would have seen him more and certainly HEARD from him more over the last years. While his physical condition doesn’t look good (and he ain’t young anymore), I have to think he has lost a great deal of his mental capabilities, and he has been shielded from the public eye for what jsbrendog said.

      They could have had an audio from him, from Tampa, after #27. The fact that we can’t even hear his voice after a WS victory, tells me he has no voice left.

      Maybe the family is afraid if his real condition is revealed, that many will jump ‘on his grave’. But he is a historic figure now, and keeping him locked in a closet may have kept him from getting some accolades, sympathy and the press he deserves.

      • Rose says:

        Whether you love him or hate him…nobody can take away the huge impact he has made in professional baseball as a whole…good and/or bad. He belongs in the Hall of Fame…and IMO, he certainly will live forever in the shrines of Cooperstown. Chalk up yet another Yankee Legend over there.

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