I don’t know if you heard, but Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Miami Marlins, essentially sold his team yesterday. I don’t mean he literally sold the organization, but he traded away virtually every player that was making a significant amount of money and received next to nothing in return.
Loria duped the Miami/Florida citizens by convincing them that the Marlins were a winning team and that their tax dollars used to build a brand new stadium would be well worth it. He paid the big bucks for Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle in 2011, hoping that they would carry Miami to a championship alongside Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Emilio Bonifacio, and Josh Johnson. Now, Stanton is the last one standing, and he’s pissed, understandably. No player will want to play for the Marlins now, no fan will want to go to their games, and no one in the country will ever respect them as long as Loria is the owner.
But this post isn’t about the Marlins or Jeffrey Loria or Giancarlo Stanton. It’s about the Yankees, and why we should take a step back and appreciate George Steinbrenner and Sons.
See, the late Mr. Steinbrenner took a lot of flak over the years. He threw money left and right at free agents. He made some awful moves but made of enough other moves that the awful ones didn’t really matter. He made the Yankees one of the most hated teams in professional sports, a hatred that is still prevalent today.
Yet, regardless of the bottomless pit in his wallet, the foolishness of his moves, or the hatred toward the Yankees that he generated, you cannot deny the simple fact that George Steinbrenner did everything it took to win. He invested himself fully in the Yankees organization, spending heaps of his own money to ensure that the Yankees would compete each and every year. He wasn’t just looking for a short-term profit — he was looking to change the entire franchise for decades to come.
Sure, maybe he was just in it for the money just like the rest of ‘em. Maybe he didn’t actually care about the Yankees or the fans or any of it. But I don’t really care what his motivations were. Because the fact is, Steinbrenner gave the fans what they wanted: a commitment to winning. He didn’t care about being hated. He didn’t care about risking his own money and credibility if they lost. He did whatever it took to make the Yankees great.
There are reasonable arguments to be made that Jeffrey Loria has made good business decisions for the Marlins. He has accumulated profits, taken advantage of holes in the revenue sharing system, and duped the city of Miami out of their tax dollars. He made money, and he’ll probably continue making money.
But at what cost? Where Steinbrenner brought the Yankees to greatness, Loria has made the Marlins a joke. Where Steinbrenner invested millions of his own money in the organization, Loria just took money from the fans and the system. Where Steinbrenner did whatever it took to win, Loria did whatever it took to turn a profit, regardless of the team’s performance on the field.
If we judge owners purely on the profits they accrue, then sure, Steinbrenner and Loria both did great jobs. But I believe that an owner has more than just an obligation to make money at whatever cost. Owners have an obligation to serve their fans, to invest themselves in their team and to strive for success. Just look at Magic Johnson with the Dodgers. Sure, his overspending may backfire. The Dodgers may not win championships and they may regret spending so much money. But the fans know that Magic is trying to win. They see an owner who is investing in the organization, who shares in their desire for success.
Marlins fans no longer feel that way about Loria, and they never will again. He betrayed the organization and the city of Miami. So let’s take a moment to remember and appreciate The Boss. Because despite all the hatred toward the Yankees and its ownership over the years, no one can ever accuse the Steinbrenners of wanting anything less than greatness for his team.