George Steinbrenner finally kicks the bucket

As everyone has probably heard by now (it was the lead item on Google News last I checked, beating out BP’s latest attempt to cap the oil spill), New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died this morning of a heart attack. Most of the coverage so far has talked about the seven championships the Yankees won during his tenure and his “bluster“; less attention has been given to his role in the debacle that is New Yankee Stadium.

I’ve posted some of my own favorite memories of Steinbrenner’s Yankee tenure elsewhere. Meanwhile, to honor The Boss’s 30-year campaign to get public stadium cash, let’s take a trip down memory lane with some choice quotes from June 1998, when Steinbrenner absolutely, positively had to have a new stadium in Manhattan, or else:

George Steinbrenner last night blasted City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and ominously hinted that the Yankees would consider a New Jersey home if they don’t get what they want in New York.

The Boss attacked Vallone’s bid for a voter referendum on a Bombers’ stadium, saying it is “bringing us dangerously close” to leaving town. …

“Politics has driven more teams from New York City than any of us care to remember, most recently the football Giants and Jets to New Jersey,” Steinbrenner said. …

“I do not want to move the Yankees from New York,” Steinbrenner said, “but I must warn: He [Vallone] is bringing us dangerously close.”

To recap: Vallone’s referendum got knocked off the ballot, but the city council refused to fund the Manhattan stadium plan, which swiftly died. The Yankees somehow managed to keep from moving to New Jersey, and it took another decade, and another mayor, before Steinbrenner got his new building.

Steinbrenner is survived by his children Hank, Hal, Jessica, and Jennifer, $1.2 billion in public subsidies for his new stadium, and a big hole in the ground where promised parks were supposed to be by now.

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13 comments on “George Steinbrenner finally kicks the bucket

  1. Wow, Neil. Have some class. You’re going to take shots at him for his stadium, the man just died. No wonder you get no respect from other sites and blogs for your immaturity in all your posts. We get it, you don’t like subsidize stadiums. But you go about it all wrong just like Gilbert attacking LeBron. Seriously, if you made this site more serious with serious comments and not cheap jabs. Your site would probably be extremely popular.

  2. So I’m guessing you wouldn’t have liked the other headline I considered: “Bad man gets sent to the cornfield”?

  3. What’s class have to do with this – we are talking about Steinbrenner, aren’t we? They guy who flew in an employee from his christmas holidays to fire him, who axed legends like berra and martin and had winfield tailed? The guy who decided a historical hallowed ground of a baseball shrine wasn’t enough, he needed to tear it down to make a glorified rip-off cover?
    I think Neil called it dead-on.

  4. No I have to agree with the other poster (despite his own classless handle). Attacking a man the day he died reeks of immaturity on Neil’s part regardless of the man’s eccentricities and the amount of money he may have been given by the city of New York (who by the way did not have a gun to their head. The city of NY choose to volunteer those funds of their own free misguided will despite how distasteful it may be to Neil and like minded folks).

  5. I’m with Neil. The man was a deadbeat, among other things – ask the Parks Department how much rent the Yankees still owe. If he hadn’t owned a baseball team no one would have said a thing when he died.

  6. The NY Times agrees with Neil:

    “He championed ordinary New Yorkers, then took them for every last penny.”

  7. I’ll miss Big Stein’s larger than life character… but I have to give kudos to Neil for the “leaving behind ~family~ and $1.2Bn in public funds”.

    That was good…

  8. Steinny was the American Harold Ballard, but with more personality and able to make fun of himself.

    He wrote the book, which many sports owners will emulate for years and years.

  9. We come to bury George, not praise him. I think Neil was very mild in his eulogy of General Von Steingrabber. He stuck to George’s cupidity, an area where criticism is certainly warranted. No mention of Howard Spira or Richard Nixon. No mention of the Bronx Zoo, which George created and then exacerbated.

    Should we believe that nothing else in life matters besides winning the World Series?

  10. It’s no surprise, the non-stop hosannas for Steinbrenner.

    Why do we rationalize and celebrate bullying behavior? If we acted among our friends the way Steinbrenner did, we’d get popped in the snout but quick. But if you’re rich, connected, and own a sports team, people put up with you.

    Steinbrenner was mean, puerile, obnoxious. A convicted felon, he ran his family’s shipbuilding business into the ground.

    He fed off the South Bronx, siphoning money from the rest of the district into the area immediately around Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner, of course, bled city coffers not once but twice for new stadiums, and for decades stiffed the city on rent payments. He was a pig with his employees, and allowed — even encouraged — despicable taunts from his own spokespeople (the monkeys-hanging-off-the-rims line stands out, but Randy Levine’s humiliations of South Bronx residents during the Macombs Dam Park destruction was awful to witness).

    Steinbrenner encouraged jingoism that would have made William Randolph Hearst blush. He set the standard for expensive tickets, baseball operations arrogance, and gave Rudolph Giuliani a personal playground so that the two of them could pound each others’ chests.

    Oh, and in the annals of Yankee history, Steinbrenne’s percentage of winning World Series is the worst of any Yankee owner, save for the CBS’s awful stretch in the late Sixties. Seven championships in 37 years. Any other team? Fantastic. The Yankees? Dreadful. And since the Yankees operate only in their own narcissistic realm, holding themselves only to their own inflated standard, it’s a fair analysis.

    There’s a not-so-thin line between being a winner and being someone obsessed with egotistical self-idolatry.

    Neil treated George Steinbrenner with far more decency than Steinbrenner showed New York.

    If this is the “quintessential” New Yorker, as some in the media have called him, then I’m glad I’m on the West Coast.

  11. The quintessential New Yorker, in my mind, would have to be David Letterman despite the fact that he lives in Connecticut. George Steinbrenner represents nothing of New York except the Yankees. He is from Ohio and has made Florida his adopted home state.

    Besides, George Steinbrenner never really did burn the Bronx twice. The Renovation of Yankee Stadium was already in the advanced planning stages when he brought the Yankees. What happened is that a prior ownership group had the Yankees lock, stock, and barrel including Yankee Stadium. They were sold to CBS while the stadium itself was sold to Rice University of Texas of all places. Rice eventually sold the Stadium to the city of New York and the Yankees became the primary leaseholders. When the new stadium was built across the street, the Yankees tranferred their lease to that ballpark, and the city of New York had to find a use for the old stadium so they tore it down for ballparks.

  12. Er, no. The stadium site that Steinbrenner wanted was a public park, so the city was legally required to find replacement parkland. The only large parcel available (though not as large as the park that was lost) being the old stadium, they tore it down — I was actually at the public hearing where the Parks Department announced no trace of the old stadium would be saved, to make room for more ballfields. (The Bronx crowd booed anyway.)

    Also, the old stadium was sold before the CBS deal — it wound up in the hands of the Knights of Columbus at some point — but that’s a less important omission.


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