We’re a few days into the post-George Steinbrenner era and while I was churlish enough to predict “not nearly enough” would be written about The Boss’ numerous instances of jerky and/or criminal behavior, as it turned out, some of the coverage —in particular, interviews conduct by WFAN’s Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno-Gazingo on Tuesday afternoon — was anything but fluffy. Even so, Metro’s Bruce Allen — the man behind Boston Sports Media.com, bemoaned the “lionization of Steinbrenner”, suggesting the late Yankee owners’ “not insignificant faults’ were largely glossed over.
Many of Steinbrenner™s employees had issues with him as a boss. This includes players, managers, general managers, even the training staff. He was accused of meddling, bullying and worse.
These tactics are being held up as examples that Steinbrenner cared. He cared as much, if not more, about winning than his players and coaches did. So that validates his behaviour over the years?
He did have a huge impact on the game of baseball, becoming one of the first owners to really run his team like a business, rather than a country club. (See Yawkey, Tom) and when the doors to free agency were opened in the mid-1970s, Steinbrenner led the way in pursuing the best talent his money could buy.
But does he deserve unfettered praise for that? His willingness to spend to extremes … even to the detriment of the game, is cause for celebration? MLB had to institute revenue sharing because Steinbrenner™s spending was so far above and beyond that of other teams that there was a competitive divide that needed to be addressed. His spending resulted in out-of-control player salaries, which has cause resentment among much of the American public, sports fans and non-sports fans alike.
His passing however, was met with the type of media reaction usually reserved only for Presidents. Heck, I don™t think the passing of Gerald Ford got this much attention. Sadly, it is typical of the hyper-intensive news media cycle that sweeps across events these days. George Steinbrenner should be remembered, but not deified.