Somewhere, George Steinbrenner Is Smiling…
By Billy Brost
You most likely just read that headline and said “Are you out of your mind?” Why would the old man be smiling? The answer is simple, and it has nothing to do with the demise of his beloved New York Yankees since he 1. handed over control of the team to his two sons, Hal and Hank and 2. passed away during the 2010 season. No, this is not a discussion about the current state of the Yankees, or how the boys will never be their father.
This is a story about a current big league franchise, loaded with big names, even bigger egos, and the contracts to match, led by a former Yankees’ icon, and who just happen to be doing something the current Yankees aren’t: playing in October. This is about the way the Boss did business finding a way to survive in 21st Century big league baseball, and doing so in the second largest media market in the country, Los Angeles.
The Boss knew to win, and to bring in fans, you couldn’t just have ho-hum guys. You had to have stars and personality at every single position, making the top dollar. The city expected it, the fans expected, and of course, the old German with the penchant for firing everyone within shouting distance DEMANDED it.
"“Baseball is not just a sport anymore; we are a business. We are show business. To compete for the entertainment dollar, particularly in New York, you have to have more than nine guys playing baseball; you have to have an attraction. And I have tried to do the best job I possibly can to give my fans an attraction.”George Steinbrenner, Principal Owner-New York Yankees"
Today’s Steinbrenner is Mark Walter, who doubles as the CEO of Guggenheim. He and the Dodgers have spared no expense to be at the point where they are now: sitting as one of the NL playoff teams, and could be a favorite to reach the Fall Classic for the first time since 1988. The Yankees had a spell like that once…when Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly was “The Captain” of Steinbrenner’s Yankees. That drought lasted from 1982-1995. We know what happened after that. The Dodgers aren’t afraid to have baseball’s biggest payroll at $235 million dollars–even if some of it has been wasted on has beens like Josh Beckett, and underperformers like Andrew Either. They play to win, no matter what.
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In comparison, the Yankees dipped their toe into overspending, by throwing out half a billion dollars in free agent contracts this past off-season. The difference? The Dodgers continued to develop their minor league system along with signing international talent that could help their trouble spots such as Yasiel Puig. The Yankees? Handed Carlos Beltran 3-years and $45 million. The Dodgers may have weaknesses, but they are not GLARING weaknesses, such as second base, shortstop, and third base.
The Dodgers already had Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and did everything short of giving up the ownership rights to Dodger Stadium to trade for David Price. They didn’t get him, but they tried. You see who lines up when Price becomes a free agent. Don’t be shocked to see them go all-in on the Big Three this winter either. Why? They can! They have the money, and plan to spend it to win, no matter how this season may wind up.
Somewhere, George Steinbrenner is smiling…