Tag Archives: george steinbrenner

Mets Block Yankees, Crush City’s Dreams

DOWN-TRODDEN NEWARK, NJ–It was revealed on Monday night that the Mets, an alleged major league franchise, had blocked the Yankees’ efforts to temporarily relocate their triple-A franchise to Newark. Critics have already labeled it the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of baseball.

Supporters of the move say the arrival of the team from Scranton-Wilkes Barre could have rejuvenated this benighted urban area and brought a brief glimmer of hope to the many forlorn widows and orphans of this fair metropolis fallen on hard times. Instead, their dreams are snuffed, as they are denied the only thing that could brighten a crime-ridden, drug-addled, gang-ruled hellhole: minor league baseball.

“I tried everything with those cold-hearted Mets,” said a Yankees official, who could not be identified as his face was too obscured by large, bitter tears. “I promised we wouldn’t make the move permanent. I promised we would okay any move they wanted to make with their own minor league teams. Wilpon was unmoved by my pleas. First he asked for my watch, which was a graduation gift from my mother. I gladly gave it over, thinking only of the poor children of Newark. Then he asked me to get on my knees and pay homage to The Dark Lord. That I simply could not do. So he threw me out on the curb. And he kept the watch.”

Newark has a grand tradition of Yankee minor league affiliates. However, the team has not had a farm team in the city since 1949. Some believe that the Mets may have traveled back in time and forced the legendary Newark Bears to go bankrupt, paving way for the regrettable National League expansion of 1962 that gave birth to their hellish form.

Critics of the Mets say that the Yankees never have and never would engage in such churlish, petty behavior. They also point out that the Yankees’ attitude toward their “crosstown rivals” has never been short of cordial, and they have never attempted to interfere with their operations. Unlike the Mets, the Yankees have always conducted themselves with the utmost class and grace. To have the Yankees’ ceaseless kindness to their lesser neighbors repaid in such fashion is the kind of brazen insult that, in times of yore, would have demanded a duel of honor. No jury would convict them of such a “crime,” and yet they will surely take the higher road, as they always have.

“They couldn’t have won all those championships without always being consummate gentlemen,” said some guy I met on line at Starbucks while writing this article. “Only good people win things.”

Fred Wilpon was unapologetic for his act of wanton cruelty. Speaking while seated in a gargoyle-topped throne, each leg of which sat on a freshly killed puppy, Wilpon told the assembled reporters (all of whom were forced to genuflect in his presence), “I hate children.” He then drank from a chalice that may or may not have contained human blood.

Scientists Warn of Steinbrenner Monument’s Effects on the Earth’s Orbit

steinmonument.jpgNEW YORK–Scientists cautioned that the new monument dedicated to George Steinbrenner, unveiled at Yankee Stadium Monday night, may have negative effects on several of the Earth’s astronomical functions. Despite warnings from the scientific community at large, the UN, and several prominent clergymen, construction of the monument–which used 92 percent of the earth’s available deposits of granite–continued unabated for the past year.

“It will definitely influence the earth’s gravitational pull,” said Dr. Henrik Lundegaard, professor of geophysics at Princeton University. “It will probably also have some consequences for the planet’s revolution around the sun.” Lundegaard estimated that, due the monument’s colossal size, “the calendar year will probably lengthen a full day by the year 2031, and exponentially more each year thereafter, which will have untold consequences for life as we know it.”

The Yankees were unfazed by such revelations. “I think it’s a fitting tribute to The Boss,” said shortstop Derek Jeter. “All he wanted to do was win, and what bigger victory is there than beating the tilt of the Earth’s axis?”

“We all loved Mr. Steinbrenner,” said pitcher Andy Pettite, “and I think it’s only appropriate that his monument should have its own climate.” This separate ecosystem, reportedly a temperate zone, may explain the appearance of several tornadoes on the Grand Concourse within the last week.

A spokesman for the Yankees confirmed that the team will unveil a monument to the Steinbrenner monument during the 2012 season. “It will take that long for us to locate and mold an appropriate amount of adamantium,” the spokesman said.

The Specter of Steinbrenner

bigstein.jpgThis seems as good a time as any to tell you about my ephemeral run-in with George Steinbrenner.

I grew up in a Cop Town north of New York City. It seemed like everyone I knew as a kid, their dad was either a policeman or a fireman in the city. (My dad was a notable exception; for most of my childhood, he veered between insurance, finance, and alcohol-aided unemployment.)

One of my best friends was a huge Yankees fan. His dad was a cop. His dad also worked the security detail for George Steinbrenner. My memory is vague on the finer points of the nature of this work; I think he may have been The Boss’s driver at some point. I don’t know if this work was actually part of his NYPD duty or something on the side. My guess is the latter.

When we graduated from elementary school, my friend’s dad got us tickets for a Yankee game. Somehow I squeezed my mom for enough money to buy a program while I was there (our family finances were mired in the Dirt Poor range at the time), because on the few occasions I got to go to a baseball game, I HAD to score it. I don’t know where I picked up this filthy habit, but it still haunts me. For four years, I brought a scorebook to every Met game I went to for the same purpose.

Midway through the game, my friend’s dad decided to give us a treat by bringing us “behind the scenes” in the Yankee offices. A security guard waved us through a couple of imposing glass doors, and then a blazer-wearing tour guide showed us around the “backstage” area, which looked more or less like any other office, except with pictures of Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth everywhere.

He then walked us through the slim hallway that backed the press booths. We stopped briefly behind the WPIX booth, where Phil Rizzuto and Lou Piniella (post-managerial stint) were manning the mics. I waved at them and Scooter waved back. I felt weirdly excited about it.

We were then brought back into the office area, and into a big office. It had a very large desk in it, and it had a fantastic view of the field, with wall to floor windows. But apart from that, it was relatively sparse: a modest bookshelf, a few chairs, and that was pretty much it. Not even any art hanging from the walls. Its only opulent feature was a couch shaped like an old fielder’s mitt, which I decided was the greatest thing ever.

A TV was on in the office. I saw that Don Mattingly had just singled. I’d been carrying my program around this whole time, attempting to keep up with the game. So I leaned on the desk to mark this down on the scorecard.

“And this,” the tour guide said, “is Mr. Steinbrenner’s office.”

I recoiled from the desk in abject terror. I felt like I’d just grabbed Genghis Khan’s spear. I’d toyed with the prize possession of a terrible, wrath-filled warlord. My friend later told me I leaped a good five feet from the desk. I thought that somehow, Steinbrenner would know I’d touched his desk. He’d just feel it, sense his aura being disturbed, and come storming up there to punish me in the most gruesome way possible. But the tour guide just laughed and we moved on.

I don’t remember anything else from that game, except that we left early because it was a night game and not an ideal era to be out too late in The Bronx (even if you were accompanied by a cop). Because I was too scared that somehow, George Steinbrenner was going to find out I’d leaned on his desk and…I don’t know, fire me?

I was way too old to be thinking such things, and I knew it, but the notion would not leave me. The specter of Steinbrenner was far too strong.

Stupid Knows No Holiday

madden_bill.jpgMost of us red-blooded Americans enjoyed a long weekend for the Fourth of July, but Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was hard at work on one of the dumbest, lamest columns I’ve ever read. You may have missed this piece of work as you barbecued or blew your arm off with a mortar, but I caught it.

This is a time of year where we’re supposed to celebrate those who made possible all of our cherished freedoms, but this column almost made me wish we were a little less free. It not only subtracted a few IQ points off of its readers, but it also shaved thinner the dividing line between Sports Nerd and Comic Book Geek.

Recently, I took Madden to task for some remarks he made on WFAN about George Steinbrenner, as he promoted his biography of The Boss. The Daily News article also involved Steinbrenner, but in the dorkiest way possible. In my last post about Madden, I just thought the longtime sportswriter was just being myopic and selective in his memories of the Yankees’ owner. Now I think Madden might be in love with him. Because in Madden’s world, through Steinbrenner, all things are possible.

Here’s the premise of his column, entitled “If Boss Ruled Knicks”: In the alternate universe where George Steinbrenner owns the Knicks, LeBron James would sign with them in a minute, because George Steinbrenner is magical and everything he touches turns to gold.

Why is Madden even contemplating such a fantasy world this weekend? Because as you all know, George Steinbrenner was born on the Fourth of July. You all know this because Steinbrenner himself would be more than happy to drill that fact into your head with all the trumped-up patriotism in which he wrapped his team over the years. (Not so much from his Watergate-related conviction, but then again, what’s more American than illegal campaign contributions?)

It’s not until you get 3/4 of the way through the column that Madden mentions a deal that almost went down in the late 1990s, in which the Yankees, Knicks, and Rangers would’ve been part of one huge Cablevision-owned conglomerate. That fact makes Madden’s fantasia at least plausible. But even if this deal had happened, do you think egos such as Steinbrenner’s and the Dolans’ could’ve coexisted long enough to allow The Boss to still be involved with the Knicks more than a decade later? Of course not. Within 6 months, somebody would’ve dropped out or been murdered.

Marvel Comics used to have a series called What If…?, where various hypotheticals of the Marvel Universe were explored. Madden has basically written that, in one of the largest newspapers in America, about two of the biggest figures in sports. It’s not journalism. It’s not even opinion. It’s fan fiction. If the Daily News is going to publish stuff like this, why don’t they just run short stories written by 15 year olds where Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Jack Skellington?
Continue reading Stupid Knows No Holiday

The Non-Persistence of Memory, George Steinbrenner Edition

bigstein.jpgI have now almost totally weaned myself off of listening to WFAN (apart from Mets games). It was hard at first, because I grew up in a house where this station was on all the time. The sounds of sports radio, however dumb, are like audio comfort food to me. But I’ve come to realize it’s more like audio Cheetos–it provides no nutrition and leaves behind a sticky, powdery mess.

However, I will occasionally tune in after a good series for the Mets. I like to soak up some good vibes and listen to those sad sacks who bitch and moan no matter what the team does. I did this yesterday and also heard the late morning/early afternoon hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts interview Bill Madden, Latino-phobic Daily News scribe and George Steinbrenner biographer.

I have yet to read his Steinbrenner book, though I would like to. But if a subtitle like “The Last Lion of Baseball” didn’t clue you into the book’s tone, then this interview would have (you can hear the whole thing here). Like most folks who speak of Big Stein these days, Madden was effusive in his praise of the Yankees owner. He credits Steinbrenner with “making the Yankees a billion-dollar enterprise”. Asked if he should be in the Hall of Fame, Madden responded, “if you tried to write a definitive history of baseball, I defy you to be able to do it without mentioning George Steinbrenner prominently throughout it.”

You also can’t write a history of the 2000’s without mentioning George W. Bush prominently throughout it. That doesn’t make him a great president. He had a lot of impact on the world, and most of it was negative. Prominence doesn’t necessarily equal greatness, and it certainly doesn’t necessarily equal goodness.

I know I’ve written about this before, but whenever confronted with this take on Steinbrenner, I feel like I have to raise my hand and provide a counter-argument. Because with each passing year, the idea of George Steinbrenner as a terrible owner seems to trickle down the memory hole.

And I know I’ve told this story before, too, but it also bears repeating because no one seems to remember this era anymore. The day Steinbrenner received his second “lifetime” suspension in 1990, I was at my grandparents house. I remember it distinctly because my uncle–an out-of-his-skull fanatical Yankees fan–was also there, and when the news came down, he literally leaped in the air, clapped his hand, and yelled with joy.

Because by that point, Yankee fans were in open revolt. The 1980s were an anxious, fallow period for the franchise. Despite spending top dollar on the best available free agents (surprise, surprise), the Yankees missed out on the playoffs for 13 straight seasons–a long drought for any team, let alone them.
Continue reading The Non-Persistence of Memory, George Steinbrenner Edition

Must There Only Be One?

The question weighing on every Mets fan’s mind for the past week: Who to root for in the World Series? And if that question didn’t weigh on your mind, I’m sure you’ve met a Yankee or Phillie fan who was more than happy to lob the question at you until you pleaded for mercy.

Maybe the real question is, Do I have to root for anyone? Can’t I just watch the World Series in the hopes of seeing some exciting games? I watch football games all the time that I have zero rooting interest in, and enjoy myself quite a bit if the game is good. Can’t I just do that with the World Series?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, for two reasons: 1) This is already touted as a battle between two “evenly-matched teams”, which virtually guarantees that one team will slaughter the other. It’s always a five-game series where one team ekes out a win in, like, game 3, while the victor destroys the other team 10-3 in every other game.

Reason number 2: It’s the Yankees vs. the Phillies. No matter who a Mets fan roots for, it will be bad. If the Yankees win, they’ll have to hear it from their fans about how they easily dispatched the team that’s tortured the Mets the last three seasons. If the Phillies win, their fans might finally achieve the arrogance and entitlement of Boston fans, while retaining their traditional anger and penchant for mayhem, a deadly combo.

So can you root for one team to lose? No, you can’t. Because whoever loses will still have made it to the World Series. Losing in the World Series is not humbling, unless you blow a big lead or have totally disastrous meltdown a la Bill Buckner. In other words, even the loser can lord that fact over the Mets. And if you actively root for the team that wins and rejoice in their victory, you’ll need to shower for a week to wash the shame from your soul.

This is like Alien vs. Predator: no matter who wins, we lose. Or like a situation Tom Scharpling once called “the reverse Highlander”: must there only be one? Or, please let there be just one.

The Unanswerable Question raised its ugly head as I watched game 6 of the ALCS with my extended family. Most of them are Mets fans of varying degrees of fanaticism, but there are few Yankees fans in the mix as well–particularly an uncle who’s loved to torture my mom about the Mets’ woes. So when the Angels went down in order in the ninth, the ball had barely left Mariano Rivera’s hand before this uncle asked me and my brothers and cousins who we would root for.

Our initial response was, begrudgingly, the Yankees. Now that Roger Clemens is long gone and disgraced, I don’t hate anyone on the team, whereas the Phillies have several players I can not stand (exhibit A: Shane Victorino, an obnoxious, hypocritical punk who’d hit about 7 homers a year in any other ballpark and any other lineup). I know a lot of Yankees fans who are decent human beings and who will be happy if they win. The pain that the Phillies have inflicted on the Mets in the past few years is much more fresh and cutting than anything the Yankees done. And when the Phillies won last year, even during their championship parade, they wouldn’t shut up about the Mets, as if the only reason they won the World Series was because it might hurt the Mets’ feelings.

Yes, my first thought was that I could imagine myself quietly rooting for the Yankees in this situation. And then I saw this in today’s New York Post:

nypost_102709.jpg I have a hard time deciding which is worse: the front or the back cover. And yes, I realize this is coming from the Post, not the Yankees themselves. But it’s indicative of certain type of Yankee fan and organization arrogance, dismissiveness, and flat-out ignorance of anything outside of the Yankee Universe

Let’s start with the front cover. And let’s ignore the bad Photoshop job on Cheerleader Victorino. And I’ll try to forget the fact that I hate Victorino for a moment. The Phillies are the defending world champs. They’re a really good team. They beat the Yankees two out of three at the Stadium earlier this year. It’s really dumb and childish to write them off as if they’re nothing, just because they’re from Philly, and to think that they’ll wither and die under the MAJESTY and the AURA of the New York spotlight.

Not to mention the caveman sexual politics behind depicting someone in a skirt to imply that they’re weak. Because women wear skirts and they’re so weak and fragile and can’t drive! And don’t get me started on my mother-in-law!

Peep some of these idiotic quotes from the accompanying article, entitled “Their fans are second rate & so is their city”:

Yankee fans have a message for the Phillies and their hometown: This ain’t Rocky, and the underdog won’t win!

Are the Phillies the underdog? Maybe, but not by a huge margin. I think anyone with half a baseball mind knows that the Phillies are a strong team up and down. The bullpen has regressed (or Brad Lidge has, anyway), but their starting pitching and lineup is actually better than it was last year. A good chunk of Yankee fans wouldn’t know that, because they’re are about as familiar with the NL as they are with self-restraint and perspective.

“Philly fans are a bunch of whiners and should learn how to dress[, said a fan] “They should try reading GQ.”

This has to be the first time a sports fan has insulted other sports fans by suggesting they pick up an issue of a high class fashion magazine. “Those mooks down in Philly don’t even know how exfoliate! Yo, try pickin’ up some skin products from the fine people Aveda some time!”

And don’t even try to compare the iconic House That Ruth Built with the long-gone Veterans Stadium.

You mean the iconic House That Steinbrenner Tore Down so he could bully the city into building a new billion-dollar Yankee Stadium on public land? Or are you referring to the iconic NYY Steak/House of Blues/Johnnie Walker Pavilion with the baseball diamond in the middle of it?

Of course, the article is filled with fans talking shit about Philadelphia and saying how it can’t compare to New York. You will not find a more pro-NYC person than yours truly, but thumping your chest about the greatness of your city is lame at best, bullying at worst. If New York is truly as great as you think it is, you shouldn’t have to put down other places to prove it.

But if anything can top the idiocy and short-sightedness of the Post’s front cover, it’s the back cover. The Yankees wanna win one for The Boss? Really?

Here’s how George A. King III starts his article that rests upon this thesis:

The Boss has lost something off a Hall of Fame fastball, but that doesn’t mean the need to win has been sucked from his marrow.

There are quotes from Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Brian Cashman, and the Steinbrenner sons, all insisting that winning this World Series would “mean a lot” to the ailing Boss.

You won’t see buttons attached to the pinstriped uniforms that read, “Win One For The Boss,” but there is a feeling in the organization that it would be a nice touch to give the 79-year-old Steinbrenner another title.

Sure, the Yankees have won six World Series under his ownership already, but that’s small potatoes. Ring number seven, that’s the real special one.

Winning a World Series would be “a nice touch”. Yankee fans, wanna know why everyone hates you? Peep that statement. It’s like an entire organization of those rich assholes from the Lexus commercials.

Look, I know that Alzheimer’s is terrible. I’ve had family members suffer from it. I don’t wish it on my worst enemy. The Wife and I have already said that if either one of us gets it, the other one is morally obligated to push them in front of a moving bus.

But the fact that George Steinbrenner suffers from it now shouldn’t make us forget the fact that, before he was banned from baseball in the early 90s, he was an insufferable prick. The fact that he ruined the franchise. Yankees fans literally cheered when he was banned–at Yankee Stadium. And after his reinstatement, he was only slightly less intolerable. I understand not wanting to speak ill of someone who’s sick, but this goes beyond that into the realm of historic revisionism.

So who am I rooting for? The meteor, the earthquake, the last-minute union job-stoppage, or the month-long rainstorm that would wipe out any hope of a World Series this year.

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Win George Steinbrenner’s Rep

nypostboss.jpgThe pic to your right is one of the banner headlines for the NY Post sports section this morning. George Steinbrenner visiting the Yankees in Tampa is, apparently, a huge deal. And Joba Chamberlain’s eight great innings against the Rays last night was not another superb outing from a possibly emerging ace. Nope, it was a tribute to The Boss.

I was all set to write some angry piece, complaining about George Steinbrenner becoming this beloved, benevolent figure, when I can vividly remember him being completely reviled by Yankees fans everywhere when I was growing up. Then I remembered that I already wrote such a piece last year, when the All Star Game prompted some truly emabrrassing and history-deficient Stein-Love. That post follows after the jump. (Original post here.)

*   *   *   *   *

Continue reading “Classic” Scratchbomb: Win George Steinbrenner’s Rep

Win George Steinbrenner’s Rep

I wasn’t too upset about the Yankee Love Fest that was Fox’s coverage of OMG THE LAST ALL STAR GAME AT YANKEE STADIUM. I mean, yeah, it was completely over the top and so full of fake, sepia-toned wistfulness it would make Ken Burns retch.

But the months and months of hype leading up to it meant you knew it was gonna be like that. If you insisted on watching the All Star Game, knowing full well it was going to be 4 hours of Joe Buck bending over and spreading for the Pinstripe Bullet, you really have no right to complain about it.

I did wish, however, that more attention had been paid to the two following details.

1) Yankee Stadium hasn’t been condemned. It’s not about to turn into dust. It’s old and outdated, but the Yankees could continue to play there if they really wanted to. So essentially, this “celebration” of the last year at Yankee Stadium is really a celebration of the Yankees building a billion dollar monument to themselves–with more than half of that money coming from city bonds, while the team tries and hold New York over a barrel for even more public funds to complete it.

1a) Oh, and they destroyed one of the few public parks in their Bronx neighborhood in order to do it. The team insists that they’ll pay to replace it with another public park, but that new park will be located on the other side of the Deegan. So go fuck yourselves, local residents, we need that space for a Hard Rock Café!

2) When the history of Yankee Stadium is rehashed by nostalgia junkie writers, they inevitably bring up Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, and so on. They seldom mention the fact that the current Yankee Stadium shares almost nothing with the Yankee Stadium that those legends played in, except for the name. The Stadium received an enormous makeover in the early 70s (totally publicly funded, by the way), to add a few seats and completely drain it of all idiosyncracies and charm. If you see pictures of the original version, it looks more like Ebbets Field or the old Tiger Stadium, a classic pre-war ballpark. The redesigned version that opened in 1976 looks like Shea Stadium in navy blue (which even the most ardent Mets fan will tell you is a bad thing). So when people lament the impending loss of the House that Ruth Built, guess what? That place has already been gone
for over 30 years.

But again, the full-press Yankee love was hardly surprising. What I did find surprising was the unbridled worship of George Steinbrenner that came along with it. During the broadcast, Joe Buck went out of his way to spend an entire inning talking about how great Steinbrenner was, and how he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Tim McCarver, who I think might now be legally retarded, agreed with him, as if Big Stein was a much a no-brainer HOF vote as Mariano Rivera.

Today’s NY papers were all pretty much in line with this POV, praising Steinbrenner and his winning winningness, and his ability to have his team’s stadium host an All Star Game. Midget Mike Lupica’s column was typical of the lot, chronicling George’s trip onto the Yankee Stadium field as if it was Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

At this point, I have to rub my eyes and blurt a Hanna Barbera-ish “ah-geda-ah-geda-HUH?” Because apparently I blinked some time in the last 15 years or so, and it must have been at the exact second someone switched the setting on George Steinbrenner’s Public Opinion to Adoring Adulation. Because for as long as I’ve been alive, it was set at either Derision, Disgust, or Searing Hatred.

Continue reading Win George Steinbrenner’s Rep