Results tagged ‘ Hank Steinbrenner ’
I was glancing today through the new Sports Illustrated that appeared somehow in my Baseball bag and noticed an article in the back of the magazine with the title: “Baseball Needs a New Boss”. Of course after reading that title you would think it might be a rousing call for a change at the top of baseball, with Bud Selig in the cross hairs. But it is not, it is a call for the next generation of “The Boss” Now when you hear or see that name in a paper, blog, or even in a video you only have one true name come to mind, and no, I am not talking about Bruce Springsteen either here.
George Steinbrenner in his prime was one of those pesky flies that buzz your brain, or neighbors that always had an opinion, and was sure to go to the mountain top and tell the entire neighborhood house by house. He might have had a menacing type of management style, but it was effective to a “T”. For some reason, the sport has seemed a bit dull since the Boss officially gave the reins of the New York Yankee conglomerate to his sons only 6 months ago. Hank has tried to be the Boss reincarnated at times, but he lacks the consistent drive and passion his father did in making a scene, then getting his point across with hard nosed facts and a few very loud comments to follow the noise throughout the league.
We truly need another guy like him. There are millions of ideas popping throughout the blogging community on how to improve and even save the game we all love daily. But there is not that loud resonating voice to carry it out into the darkness and awaken the sleepy heads of the baseball hierarchy. George is now 78 years old, and might still have the heart and the passion of a much younger man, but his body is finally giving him a sign to slow down and be more of a silent partner. And you know that is killing him inside. He is not the visual persona of the Yankee faithful anymore. His rare outings are confined to his new Yankee Stadium opening, and a select number of charity and speaking engagements. He is mostly situated in his Westshore Blvd. home in Tampa, Florida now watching from a distance, but you know he yearns to be in the fray of it all.
I got the privilege of meeting George on Super Bowl Sunday about 10 years ago when he was out chatting with a NFL vendor selling merchandise at the roadside for the big game. He and his bodyguard/chauffeur were at a small gas station at Kennedy Blvd and West Shore and he was getting ready to go to the game as a guest of Malcom Glazer, the Tampa Bay Bucs owner. We stood there talking for about 10 minutes about his team and his recent hiring of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry and the wild new rivalry starting between the then Devilrays and his beloved Bronx Boys. He was very courteous and polite, and was a bit of a joy to speak with on that roadside. I could not see the horror that most sports people saw in the man that day. But then it wasn’t baseball season, and his team had just finished another great season months earlier.
So who do we have in the ownership community in baseball right now who could become the next “Boss”?. Could it be the ever loving Stuart Sternberg, the Rays owner? I am inclined to say that Sternberg has too much of a good guy charisma going for him in the ownership circles. He has been one of those guys already who just seem happy to be here and is loving the ride. But then again, the team has not floundered and we could see another side of him if the day turns dark and the skies are filled with boos in the stadium. But, no, he is not in the running or even on the ballot for this post. We need to find another Marge Schott in the majors right now. You know, someone who treats her dogs with more respect than her team or its players. For a short time there, in the past I thought Ted Turner when he was up on that Atlanta Braves totem pole might be another great “boss”, but he fell from grace and sold his soul to Liberty Media Corp.
Who among the current owners is at least has the spunk potential of “The Boss”? I guess the best answer to that might be in the genes of the previous boss. Hank Steinbrenner has the boldness and the “foot in mouth” karma he father possessed, but he is more tactical and more driven by the sheer dollar signs than his father right now. His passion for the game is without question a fraction of his father’s, but time and the American League East standings could change that. Maybe it might be the crew of owners not firmly seated into the ownership bubble yet that could make some noise. Troy Aikman is a part of the new San Diego Padres ownership conglomerate. Maybe he can pull out one of the old Barry Switzer’s speeches and get some fires built under the wealth group, but then again, he has always been a team player and might be happy in a behind-the-scenes role that pumping his fist and bellowing throughout the San Diego community.
Or maybe it might be the proposed new owner of the Chicago Cubs. You know the same guy who is now pimping $ 25 million pacts to the Windy City celebrities to come on board on the ground level of his bid to take over the team from the Tribune Corp. Such a bold move to even try and bring in the celebrity Cubbies like Bill Murray, John Cusack, and Jim Belushi could be just the kettle beginning to boil a bit for the soon-to-be confirmed owner. But then again who is this guy………….Oh, he is Tom Ricketts, who is a part of the TD Ameritrade brood that brought you that adorable baby winning at golf from a high chair. Could he be the guy to take over the boss’s karma and lead the baseball top tier back into the light?
I would love to think he would based on his unconventional measures and outlandish schemes to get the extra capital to purchase the Cubbies. But, you never know, he could just be hiding his true personality until they get to know him, then spring on them like a cheetah on a helpless zebra. But really, the current mosh pit of MLB owners doesn’t have another brash, abrasive owner in their mix. They all seem to either be business men who love baseball, or just plain business men. So far I will have to give the nod to Hank for coming the closest to his father. His throwing away contracts and players like an ol
d Reggie candy bar wrapper this season is a perfect example of Steinbrenner-ism.
I mean even his taunting of the powerful Red Sox Nation earlier in the year is an action that is becoming a Steinbrenner. But still, he is in the infancy stage of his transformation into a true baseball owner. He is silent and respectful now, but who knows what will come of his personality or his behavior once he feels like he belongs in the ivory tower for good. Even during the recent Yankee pitfall to a cellar spot he seemed to stand by and watch while in the past his father would have bellowed that everyone from the ticket taker to the General Manager was accountable for the team’s success.
Some one has to come forward soon, because I can truly say I miss the old George Steinbrenner rants and raves. I truly think if Joe Girardi survives this year with the Yankees, he had better play the Lotto, because you know the previous owner would have been down in that clubhouse looking for a few skins for his wall by now. Baseball needs these figures to bring the top tier closer to believability for the fans.
I am lucky to be a Rays fan, because Sternberg is always on the field or strolling the stadium walkways talking to fans and is very hands-on when he is here. But you never know, maybe before the end of the 2009 season some owner will come forward and question the status quo, or might even embark on a crusade to lighten up the owner’s box and let the fan enjoy some more “George” somewhere in baseball. So let the search begin for the new coming of “The Boss” I miss that growl more and more every day.
I was thinking the other day about all these signings by the New York Yankees for their pitching staff, will these moves guarantee that the team will be better in 2009. On the surface, it looks like the team has made a huge upgrade in talent in their pitching staff, but does that always commute to a championship, or even a playoff berth. You only need to go a less than 500 or so miles to the west to get your answer here. Just because you took the Hot Stove season by surprise doesn’t put you in the playoffs in December.
In 2008, oddsmakers, fans and legions of experts ( including the talking heads in Bristol ) declared the Detroit Tigers the early favorite to win the whole enchilada after their blockbuster 7-player deal with the Florida Marlins. That deal was completed a little over a year ago at last season’s Winter Meetings when they pickjed up vital cogs , pitcher Dontrelle Willis and power hitter Miquel Cabrera. Along with the other upstart pitching they had, the Tigers looked like the runaway favorite to crush the American League Central enroute to a playoff berth.
In fact, it was a player outside of that 7-player merry-go-round who made the most impact in 2008. In a little thought of deal with the Teaxas Rangers, the Tigers picked up a young thrower, Armando Galarraga. During the season, Galarraga went 13-7, with a 3.73 ERA to be the standout pitcher, not the veteran Willis, who spent most of the year fighting control and delivery problems.
At one point in the season, Willis was pitching in the Class-A Florida State League for the Lakeland Flying Tigers before coming back up to the majors late in the season for the Tigers. When he did come back up, he had a poor performance in his 9 appearances, going 0-2, with a 9.38 ERA. Cabrera also got off to a rocky start , was playing musical chairs in the infield, and finally ended up at first base before righting his ship in 2008.
Cabrera did get the offensive side of his game going, and ended up strongly in 2008, but it a example of a little too much too late as the team was by then buried in the cellars of the American League Central division. By the time the entire team rebounded and played solid ball, it was too late and the dream was shattered as the team ended the season in the cellar of the division.
The 2008 Tigers are a prime example of the fact that big splashes do not always guarantee wins in this league. Some times the act of acquiring great players doesn’t add up in the wins column. They got a bit blindsided in a deal for Edgar Renteria where they gave up a promising righthanded starter, Jair Jurrjens, who went an unexpected 13-10, with a 3.68 ERA over 188.1 innings for the Atlanta Braves. Jurrjens ended up 2008, being a consistant pitcher for the Braves, and exceeded the teams expectations for him at his young age.
Tigers starter Kenny Rogers got old quick during the season. Reliable inning-eater Jeremy Bonderman got hurt, and Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander did not have the expected seasons, actually showing decreasing numbers and suspect pitching at times during the year. With the season seemingly going down the tubes, the team even traded away power-hitting catcher Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez to the New York Yankees at the Trading Deadline. Rodriguez at the time was in a offensive decline, which added to the Tigers; frustrations during the season.
So we come down to now, a year later, and the New York squad hit the neon-clad Vegas strip for the Winter Meetings with their purse strings wide open seeking the ‘ miracle fix’ for their upcoming season that showed the Yankees struggled all season long to even stay out of 4th place in the Americna League East. The team came into the Winter Meetings with an aggressive plan to upgrade and take the best players on the board back to their new shiny and sparkling cathedral to start the rebirth of promise in the Big Apple and reclaim the legend that is the Yankees.
The Yankees did seem to hit the jackpot early this off-season and made the biggest splash in the pool so far in the league, but will it be enough to even guarantee a playoff berth for the Bronx team. Two days after the Yankees signed C.C. Sabathia to a seven-year $ 161 million dollar deal, they agreed to give A.J. Burnett a five-year, $ 82.5 million dollar payday. With the Yankees still having their purse strings open, they might even still bring in another ace like Derek Lowe, or even solid leftie Andy Pettitte might come back to his old locker and play again for the Bronx bombers in the new digs.
There is still speculation that sluggers Mark Teixiera and even Manny Ramirez might even pack their respective West Coast bags and head to the City that never sleeps. With targets like that, can the Yankees even still claim a divisional title or even a Wild Card berth in their own division.
Most would these deals put the Yankees on the front burner in the A L East, or will they struggle against the up and coming Rays and Blue Jays, and the always offensive-minded Boston Red Sox. Both of the teams that the Yankees looked up at in the standings in 2008 come back for more with consistant squads both in the offensive and pitching departments. And the Blue Jays and Orioles can battle with the best of them when the matchups are equal.
Both Burnett and Sabathia had remarkable seasons in 2008, and should warrant a upgrade in their salaries and a better chance to claim a World Series ring, but will 2009 be that season, or will it just be the first year building up steam for future runs at the trophy. The once powerful Yankees offense still still seems to be churning on 7 cylinders in the off-season, with both Abreu and Rodriguez not in the fold any longer, can the pitching upgrade bring the team’s sudden offensive holes to a small diameter.
Hank Steinbrenner must now channel his best imitation of his father and figure out a fast fix for the offensive lineup of the Yankees. Two mainstays, A-Rod and Derek Jeter are back for another season, and should have consisitant years, but first base has a hole, rightfield is an issue, and catching must find an offensive leader to carry the team. Jorge Posada might finally move from behind the plate and be the upgrade the team needs at first base, or Designated Hitter. But that still leaves a huge hole to fill in rightfield.
Do the Yankees throw a bushel of money at Ramirez and move Xavier Nady to right and camp Ramirez in the left-field corner of the new Yankees Stadium. That answer might be forth coming in the next few weeks, but the issue of Teixeira maybe coming to the Bronx will be resolved in the next few days. He wants to have a solid playing location and residence area by the end of the 2008 year. With the clock ticking and money again being thrown at the top guys, can the pinstripes again be on a roll to the championship?
2009 is on the horizon for the Yankees, and with sure issues still going on in-house as to a payroll or even a roster, the team will plug and fill from now until Febuary. But can this upgrade on both sides of the ball even guarantee anything for them next year. Will the team go strong out of the gate and then suffer the curse of the Tigers in 2009. Or will an unsuspecting injury or injuries take the wind of out of the 2009 sails by May. This is the game of baseball, nothing is a sure thing, and no one player can take this team on their backs and lead them to glory.
The Yankees do look like the team to strive to beat every game in 2009, but all the Yankees have to do is look to the west and remember the pre-season expectations of the Detroit Tigers to remember that nothing is guaranteed in this game…………Not even the price of a hot dog and a beer.
The Hot Stove season is not over yet, and either slugger could make a huge offensive weak spot strong again. But the Yankees need to be smart and not just try and fill a hole, but fill them with the right players who will be productive for the next 4 years. The A L East has become a battleground, with the Yankees finally showing age and weak spots in 2008. Can they totally hide those spots, or will there be more signings and better numbers to follow in 2009.
Speculation is that the team is not done firing up the pen and signing a few more checks before all is said and done. By the time the team hits Tampa for Spring Training, the entire middle of the lineup might have a new feel. But this by no means is an indication that Yankees will need ‘ Hi, I’m_______ badges for the first few days after pitchers’ and catchers’ report .
The MLB Winter Meetings 2008 are now up and running, both Yankees head honcho Hank Steinbrenner and Met’s guru Omar Minaya are hunting for big game and will be seen all over the Las Vegas strip in small cubbieholes and behind the green curtain at your favorite steakhouse looking for that prized piece to their team’s puzzle. It is interesting that the meetings are in Vegas, not for the show and the flash, but for the bet big or leave philosophy.
And these two teams are the optimus primes of the 2009 seasons. People come to the city in the desert for different reasons, to make it big on the Strip, combine their luck with some skill to gain some cold hard cash, or maybe even leave with a prize beyond beliefs. Whatever your reason to come to the neon city, sometime what you do in Vegas can haunt you an entire season. And during the next several days, both these men will try and hone, piece together and ride the winning team to their goals. Or will both of them crap out and go home losers? That is doubtful, but this city can turn dreams in dust as fast as a roll of the dices.
Vegas has never been known as poor mans’ town. Not even in the early days of the Flamingo Hotel and the Golden Nugget did the town have a soft spots for losers or the weakly-rich. It is a town built on the riches of others and is not a forgiving town in the least. Wealth has always been thrown around the strip either for power or control. This years MLB Winter Meetings will not be any different.
The filthy rich are throwing contracts at the player du jour like a man with a gambling problem. Two of the biggest bets this season are pitchers’ C C Sabathia and Francisco Rodriquez. Both are considered the “aces” for both of the New York teams’ folly into the neons lights of Vegas. Both can either make the town smile or leave everyone in the state of disbelief that baseball fails to secure the prizes for the city. This is not to discount the power-hitters like Mark Teixiera or Raul Ibanez, or even shove under the table any discussions about them. But these two pitchers are the “make ot or break it” commodities of the two New York franchises.
Alot of poker is left to play in the Hot Stove season. Pots are boiling all over the place and people are starting to ladle out their favorites and make moves to secure their new seasons. After these two high end players either get signed or walk away from the tables, the rest of the cards will fall into place around the league. The benchmark salaries or contracts might be sitting in a Las Vegas hotel right now gaining dust or being prodded like cattle to search for loopholes or advantages. The next few days are critical for baseball, becuase as soon as the big boys leave the tables, the rest of the teams will put in their antes and see what they can get for their money.
To say that whoever brings joy to the New Yorks’ will need al least a Brinks truck or a few Pinkerton guy’s to help them out of town. But would be an insult to the fabric that made Vegas a dreamers’ town if neither team got there man here, but in the works a contract or deal within the cinfines of the Bellagio Resort area. But who out of the two giants in the Big Apple will come away with what prize , and what price?
Who will bet it all hoping for magic, and who will go home with their tails between their legs? That will be a huge 2009 story, and it is so early in the game. Who has the guts and confidence to twist the hands of fate to the extreme and test their will against the odds. Or who is winning to throw the dice and hope their number comes up with all their money on the table? This might be the true story of the next 4 days in the desert.
Both teams’ might come home with a fortune in talent and could bankroll a great advantage going into the new season. The American League East will again be a 4-man race until someone seperates themselves from the pack and takes over that division. The Yankees do not want to be the team looking up at three teams again this season, and might make significant moves to illustrate their desire to agin be the top dog not only in the league, but in the city. The Mets on the other hand are in the division with the current World Series Champions. All they have to do is talk to the Rays players about the stigma attached to chasing and passing the 2008 kings and gaining control, in the National League East race.
Both the Yankees and Mets have high hopes for these meetings, and both bolster full confidence they will come away as winners when all is said and done. Most of this bravado might be a illustration of the city’s personality and it’sinternational state of confidence, they get what they want, and then go on and conquer. That might have been the mindset in the past, but in today’s culture and today’s baseball, the best do not always rise to the top. Just because you spend in the 100′s of millions doesn’t even guarantee you a playoff spot in today’s parity league. To be the king of the hill, you have to remain consistant, which neither have done for years in their respective leagues.
Both teams have sparkling new stadiums that need to be filled nightly for there to be any signs of financial rewards and playoff glory again in the city, I would honestly expect the Yankees to be the ones to put it all on black and try and pull out a near miracle to gain some face-time and again become the franchise to fear in the near future.
The Yankees have not had fate on their side the last few seasons. The team is in the payroll penthouse area, but almost slipped to the American League East basement last year with injuries and assorted offensive mis-alignments. If not for a late season splurge, they might have fallen below the lowly Baltimore Orioles for 5th in the AL East. And that is not the place for a team spending money the way the Yankees have for the last 5 years. As Janet Jackson says in her song “What have you done for me lately?”
To say it can not happen in 2009 would be an understatement. George Steinbrenner finally passed the mantel to his older son, and we are going to see if the elder Steinbrenner got any of Dad’s genes when it comes to building a competitive network and administering a firm hand on the roster. “Big H” has to have all the cards and gamble his finest china to get the prizes of this years free agent crop. The prize knows his intentions and has already voiced a few odd comments to maybe put up a bluff before finally going for all the cash and playing in the Big Apple. But sometimes people do things for reasons other than money, so Sabathia might just go the “better judgement” route and not only stunn the NY crowd, but the nation as a whole.
After losing two starting pitchers, one to arrogance and the other to retirement, and maybe losing a vital cog in right-field, “Big H” has to toss the bones like a gambling’ whale and show the money or leave the Vegas strip as a loser going into Spring Training. The Yankees might have already played their first hand giving their top prize, C C Sabathia their first offer, but you can be sure that this deal, if it interests the big guy will take a bit to complete. they might get a hand shake out of it all, but at this junction of the season, that can make the difference between night and day for a team. A funny comment out of the Sabathia camp says the big guy hated Spring Training in Florida while he was with the Cleveland Indians, that might be a small cog in the road, but sometimes a better organization can mend that fence without too many problems.
The Mets on the otherhand, might have a few face cards up their own sleeves. They have already shown pitchers’ like K-Rod and Brian Fuentes that they have both the money and the reserved parking spot for them just waiting for their signatures. The check waiting for the new closer of the Mets will have a few zeros behind it, and might even be the biggest payday of their career if they played their own cards right.
And with an offense that drawfs the Yankees squads, the Mets might have the leg up in the Big City. And with their own new sparkling stadium going up, they also have to win big now and secure some of the best talent to showcase their new digs. These two might not be the only high cost hauls of the Mets at the meetings, but it would be a nice centerpeice to showcase their new digs to have a starter who can command the game, and a closer who can execute with the best of them on board.
With the starter in mind, there are many floating on rafts on the poolsides in Vegas waiting for a call from Minaya wanting to speak to them about a New York opportunity. The starting pitcher situation is actually alot cloudier than the closer or even right-field positions, becuase until the first few are off the board, the pecking order is out of kilter and might need to be rearranged by a Met’s signing. Do not be surprised if a name like Oliver Perez, or maybe even Edwin Jackson becomes the 5th starter for the Mets and outperforms the some of the best in the game.
Both teams have also selected secondary targets who would be great prizes to obtain during the meetings, but might not be considered the “house favorites” right now. The Mets have also set up back-up plans into effect if K-Rod decides to take his toys and go home without a Mets contract in hand. The team has also begun preliminary talks with Fuentes and wily veteran Trevor Hoffman for the vacant closers’ role. Both might not be the top shelf potential the Mets seek, but both have experience and might come at a discount considering the asking price of K-Rod services. Bott also might be a economical move as sure bargains considering the financial climate of America and baseball. Another name that will be circling the shark tank is ex-Cubbie, Kerry Wood. He might have a busy week in Las Vegas shaking hands and eating expensive lunches and dinners while being courted all around the strip by interested teams.
Here is another thing to consider before shelling out all the dusty money from the safe. Just how secure are we that the money will come back into the team’s coffers during this financial crisis. Will the fans be as eager to shell out up to $ 100 a visit to either of the pearly gates to see their New York teams play in 2009. Now tickets might not cost a hundred, but when you consider all the extras like food, beverage and maybe parking or transportation and a few after game suds, a hundred might even be a bargain. Teams might be looking for value in the fast lane this year and might even produce a few incentive laden contracts to help in case of a financial meltdown at the turnstiles and concession stands around baseball. People will still come to game no matter what, but the amount of expendible currency and the consistancy of that money might be watered down a bit at first in 2009. As fast as the nation rebounds, sports will shows an increase in revenues and sales of merchandise. But until then, it might be a buyers’ market for a short time.
I truly think the Mets might have the upper hand here in getting a few of the prized free agents based solely on the team’s current assets. What pitcher would not want to have a David Wright or Jose Reyes behind him makiing him look good. Those two guys on their own could be the best “face cards” to show for a prospective starter or closer signee. But of course the Yankees have their own cornerstones who can command respect and admiration in Jeter and A-Rod, but you never know how long those two will be together before age and injury finally takes them to the turf. So we have a case of old guard and new guard in both the middle of the New York infields. One has been style and elegance for years, while the other has been power and speed. Sorry Yankees, I have to give this bet to the young turks on the Met’s roster based on potential after the fact.
The next week will truly show if the worldly belief that you can bring home a fortune in Las Vegas holds true. Either team can be winners in this sweepstakes, but might also be smart to consider the penalties for thinking too far beyond the box. Minor phrases and comments by Sabathia and by K-Rod might be indicators of just how fast all of this will be done. Sabathia might drag this out a bit and the Yankees might just move onto A J Burnett or Ben Sheets because of less stress and more straight talk. But Burnett’s familarity with the division might be worth the extra dough to steal him out of a Braves uniform.
If this was 2008, and the economy and the job situation were bright, all power to the players for getting everything they can for their services. Prudent behavior has never been a strong suit of the ownership of either the Yankees or the Mets. I have also heard recently that they will again petition for more bonds to secure the finishing touches to their stadiums beyond the Billions already spent on stadiums for both teams. Being financially prudent might also be the “river” card that could make or break their next few seasons.
By playing smart and studying the enviroment around them, they might come away with a minor player who will become a major contributor. High dollar doesn’t always mean high value. Both these franchsies know this very well. Do we have to remind each franchise of their last high dollar low output signings. The Yankeess still cringe when the name Carl Pavano is heard in public, and the Mets might feel the same about Pedro Martinez and his ever changing body aliments. So it might be smart for both teams to take a step back and even re-evaluate a few things before sticking their heads back into the fire.
People forget that baseball has always been a way for Americans to forget about their problems. Each World War was a huge emotional time for the country, and baseball helped ease the pains and the stress of life. During the Great Depression, baseball also served as a every man’s fantasy world that for a single nickel, they could watch 9 innings of guys working their hearts out for the common man without the stress of their own everyday life.
Personally, I think that baseball keeps my head above water. Baseball is my primary solitude in a hectic world. And to think that the two giants in New York are struggling with success is almost too much to take at times. I am not a fan of either of these two teams, but I have a huge amount of respect for the organizations. And for that reason, I think the fan base deserves a winner, or at least a team that plays hard and nasty until the end of the 162nd game. I always expect a New York team to come out bold and brash and carry their voice loud and proud into the night. But in 2008, for the first time in a very long stretch, both voices went silent in October. That is a silence that neither team can afford in 2009.
The cards are dealt and the bets are in………………Do they both win, or do they both lose?
Does the play of the dealer and the teams bring out a push, or do they split the cards and find their glory in the end. The odds are in the favor of the house always, and the “house” in this matter is the players. Based on the climate of today, do they go to the penthouse, or do they give the team a chance and maybe back-load a contract a bit. The decision is about to come to light. No one knows but the guy holding the cards if it will be a blow for a defeat or triumph. A bit of gambling advice I was once given by a well known gambler, you never bet blindly on a sure thing, that only leads to a huge disppointment that neither you nor your dreams can ever rebound from….ever.