Corporate Welfare

George Steinbrenner, RIP


The beloved and be-hated longtime Yankee owner is dead of a heart attack at age 80, after years of sharp decline.

He was the Queen Bee of corporate welfare, an illegal campaign contributor to Richard Nixon, and certainly a well-deserving member of Dickipedia, but one thing I'll always like more about The Boss than his detractors is that he understood the job of a baseball owner was to win baseball games by any means necessary, even if that meant–horrors!–giving formerly indentured employees gobsmacking amounts of money. That, and his '70s commercials were pretty awesome.

Or maybe you had to be there.

Bonus trivia: According to James Pethokoukis, "Steinbrenner signed first black coach of a pro sports team, John McClendon of the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League."

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  1. George was always very good to Tampa, whatever his sins. R.I.P.

  2. Steinbrenner was one of those guys I hated for so long I decided I liked him. Like Gretzky.

    1. I never got the fan hate for Steinbrenner. I can understand not liking his teams because they often beat other teams. But, as a non-Yankee fan, you should love Steinbrenner and want someone like him to own your team. Who is a bigger scourge on baseball, Steinbrenner who made and spent his money trying to win or some asshole like David Glass in Kansas City who just pocketed the revenue sharing money and put out a AAA team on the field?

      1. If Steinbrenner had owned the Royals, Pirates, Brewers, or Reds he wouldn’t have won shit in the modern game. Even small-market teams like the Marlins, A’s, Twins, and Rays that try to put a good product on the field always lose their star players when they become eligible for free agency.

        Baseball needs a salary cap (and a salary floor, to avoid the bad owner behavior you speak of). The nature of the game (tons of games on local TV) means that revenue sharing is never going to be enough to close the gap between small and big markets. Of course, the union is going to fight tooth and nail against any such suggestion.

  3. Cheering for the Yankees in baseball is like going to the casino and cheering for the house.

  4. The best part of this is that I did not know about the existence of Dickipedia. Thank you, George.

  5. Guess I should avoid watching the Yankees channel (I mean ESPN) for a week, since we’ll now get non-stop George retrospectives until he’s buried.

    It’ll ruin the All-Star game too. Thanks George! Next time, die in the off-season.

    1. Better Steinbrener than as the LaBron turns.

    2. Who gives a crap about the some-star game anyhow? It’s an idea that’s past its time.

  6. As much as I vocally hated Steinbrenner as the Yankees owner, I would have loved him if he’d have owned any sports team that I’m a fan of. It’s jealousy, really.
    Mr. Steinbrenner, Enjoy baseball heaven.

    1. One can only imagine how the Cleveland Indians’ fortunes might have been reversed had Steinbrenner been successful in buying them. Instead, he had to settle for the Yankees. Bwaa-haa-haa-haa!

  7. “the job of a baseball owner was to win baseball games”


  8. Welch has encapsulated my view completely. Steinbrenner was an arrogant, fickle and megalomaniac. However, he fucking wanted to win and would do whatever it took to do it. In the same way I love the asshole Jordon (on the court). He would shove a metal pipe through you like T1000 did to Arnold to beat you.

    And I respect that. Here’s a gift:

    Mr. Steinbrenner : Nice to meet you.

    George : Well, I wish I could say the same, but I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduced them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!

    Mr. Steinbrenner : Hire this man!

    1. I went to a baseball game up in Seattle back in 2000. Jay Buhner was playing for the Mariners. Whenever he came to bat, they would play the Constanza rant at Steinbrenner than ends with “why did you trade Jay Buhner!!” it was great.

      1. Ironically, the occasion for that rant was Steinbrenner delivering the news that George had died.

    2. After watching several seasons of Curb, I appreciate Larry David playing Steinbrenner even more now.

  9. “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite has to be right.”

    Just as true now as it was then. More people should live by the Code of the Opposite.

    1. Larry David has talked about this, and I’m totally an adherent. I have “DO THE OPPOSITE” as well as “BE THE JOKER!” drunkenly scrawled on countless sheets of paper.

      “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.”

  10. While Steinbrenner was actually making decisions, the Yankees didnt win. Oh, they won games (lots of them), but not the Series. It took him being suspended to get them to the top.

    The problem being that he thought money would solve problems. In the 80s, the Yankees were the winningest team, but didnt win a single division title.

    The Yankees dynasty of late 90s and 2000s was built thru the farm system and then money was used to plug holes.

    1. That “80s” comment is 82-94.

      1. Those were the teams I got to root for age 6 – 18, and growing up and living in Queens. It was a tough time to be a kid and a Yankees fan, especially surrounded by Mets fans.

        1994 was the first time I had real hope, and then the strike happened. I worked at the stadium in 1995 for the playoffs, but they weren’t quite ready yet. I just wish Mattingly had gotten to win one title. He was one of the very few bright spots during that stretch.

        1. I grew up with the Big Red Machine. The years since 1981 (we was screwed!) have been mostly miserable, with the 1990 exception.

          1990 was a great sports year for me:
          My college went to the final 4 for the 1st time.
          The Reds won the World Series.
          The my college won the MNC in football, although that didnt technically happen until Jan 1 of 1991.

          1. And in case any Buffs fans are on here: The ball never broke the plane on 5th down.

            1. Big 8 reffing was the worst.

    2. Well, only in the late 90’s. After 2001, the Yankees just started buying guys. And I’m a Yankee fan. They’re back to a solid balance now (and there are gigantic numbers of teams that could spend comparable to the Yankees, they just don’t. See: Texas Rangers.)

      And for all the douchebaggery, Steinbrenner DID return the Yankees to greatness. And compared to his moronic sons, he’s Jesus Christ incarnate.

      1. Notice the Yankees didnt win the WS from 2001-2008. You win with core players.

        1. The 2009 Yankees had the core 3 from the 90s plus:

          Cabrera FA 2001
          Cano FA 2001
          Chamberlain 1st rnd 2006
          Hughes 1st rnd 2004

          And some minor guys too. They added another group of young guys they developed to the old ones still around.

          1. Cano isn’t a free agent. He came up with the organization.

            1. He was signed as a free agent in 2001. He wasnt drafted.

          2. He was an FA only in the sense that he is a Dominican and those guys are FA out of high school.

            1. The point was a list of guys who were ALWAYS YANKEES, either drafted or signed as FAs because they were latins.

              1. I was distinguishing these guys from the guys they bought. FA in the draft details is confusing, but Im making the same distinction you are.

        2. Notice the Yankees didnt win the WS from 2001-2008. You win with core players.

          They lost a great World Series in 2001 by the skin of their teeth. They won the tough A.L. East every year from ’02 through ’06, winning at least 95 games each of those seasons. In ’07 they “only” got the wild card and still won 94 games. Only in ’08 did they not make the playoffs.

          Winning a World Series championship is damn hard even for a great team, especially in the era of the Wild Card and expanded playoffs. You need some breaks to go your way.

          Any other franchise in baseball would be ecstatic to have the kind of run the Yankees have had over the last 15 years.

          1. This is all true. And it balances out lucking into the 96 and 00 titles when they werent the best team. But the point stands, at the peak of the spending splurge, when they were relying on buying players instead of guys they developed, they didnt win it all. Luck or some other factor? Tough call.

      2. The Yankees, a failing business in 1972, was purchased by Steinbrenner’s group for less than $10 million. He built a billion-dollar enterprise and plowed his earnings back into the team, which is more than most owners do.

    3. Key players of 1996 WS champions that started with Yankees:

      Jeter 1st rnd draft 1992
      Bernie Williams FA 1985
      Gerald Williams 14th rnd 1987
      Pettitte 22nd rnd 1990
      Rivera FA 1990

      That was the young core that the dynasty was built around. Yeah, some really nice Free Agent pick ups were added on top. Notice that 3 of the 5 (the non-Williams) are still aging Yankees today. That is the advantage that money gives, allows you to keep the talent if you dont foolishly trade it away when its young.

      1. Posada was also drafted by the Yanks in 1990.

        1. Posada only played 8 games in 1996, but, yeah, he was a key player from 1998 on.

      2. I’m not disagreeing with you, and Cashman seems to have a similar opinion, but it’s hard to come up with evidence to say they didn’t get a little spend happy in the oughts.

        1. But they did that in the 80s too.

          The Yankees also benefited more than anyone except the Marlins from the expanded playoffs. If winning the division was still required to make the playoffs, the Yanks have a few less WS titles.

          1. Bullshit. Every year they won the WS, they won their division. They won the American League East every year from 1996 until 2008 when they missed the playoffs. It was the Red Sox who have benefited from the expanded format. They won both of their titles in the 00s as wildcards.

            1. You are correct. What was I thinking? Hmmm….

              1. Ah…in 1996 and 2000 Cleveland would have won the old AL East.

                Without expanded playoffs, you cant go to 3 divisions.

                1. yeah but the schedules would have been different. Cleveland was playing in the AL central which was terrible. Had they been playing in the old AL East where they had to play Boston, NY Baltimore and Toronto more often, they might not have had the same record. We will never know.

                  1. Baltimore and Toronto (and the Devil Rays of that era) were not much to worry about.

                    The AL East wasn’t nearly as much of a monster division until 2008. It was just a competition between the Yankees and Sox for who was going to have home field advantage in the playoffs.

        2. And, as noted, they basically won dick in the oughts.

          1. It was the 80s all over, lots of wins but no hardware to show for it.

            1. Is 09 not in the 00s?

              1. So is 2000. I was referring to 01-08, see above. Just like my 80s comment is referring to 82-94.

                1. Here is the comment:

                  “Notice the Yankees didnt win the WS from 2001-2008. You win with core players.”

                  In 2009, they had added Cabrera/Cano/Chamberlain/Hughes.

                  1. Yeah but unlike the 80s, they did make two world series. And Cano, Cabrera Chamberlain and Hughes were playing with them as early as 06. The big addition in 09 was Texiera. They had been horrible at first base since Martinez retired. They kept getting fat guys who couldn’t play defense at the position. It was that damned degenerate moneyball that claimed that a team of fat guys who walk a lot can win games. Teixera not only solidified their lineup, his range at first base allowed Cano to move over to the center more and make up for Jeter’s lack of range. He made their entire defense better.

                    1. Sabathia and Burnett were also big acquistions for the Yanks.

                  2. …and they added the top 3 free agents (Sabathia, Texeira, and Burnett) in a market where all the other teams were gunshy due to the economy crashing and burning.

                    I don’t believe they ever got all three of the top FAs in recent history before 2009.

      3. Money also allows you the luxury of making mistakes.

  11. Welch, you really need to mention more than just the Steinbrenner-Yankees corporate welfarism. This guy was a total leech.

    The Steinbrenner family was actually involved in shipbuilding, and it’s a far more interesting story and far mor costly story about how his shipping company sucked money off of the US Navy by using political connections in the name of Inouye and Murtha.…..einbrenner navy contract&f=false…..einbrenner navy contract&f=false

  12. Whether or not Steinbrenner was a dick, a douchebag, or a winner or a loser, he was a NYC fixture. It’s weird that he’s gone. Who are Mets fans going to hate now, besides themselves?

    1. They could hate Cleveland, but that would be piling on.

    2. It was hysterically pathetic watching Mets fans root for the Phillies in last year’s world series.

      1. Title envy is never pretty, but it’s often quite comical.

    3. My opinion towards the Mets fluctuates between irate hatred and lukewarm support depending on how many Mets fans are in the general vicinity.

      If I’m around any more than one, my hatred can rival the Red Sox/Cowboys. The little brother syndrome among the Mets fans I know is that bad. I’m convinced if they were in the WS against the Red Sox, Mets fans would be rooting for the Red Sox, just so they can laugh at Yankee fans when they lose.

      When there are none around I kind of hope they win, mostly just so the Mets fans I know will shut. The fuck. Up.

      1. Subway Series! Subway Series!

        Seriously, there is nothing worse than a Subway Series. Especially if, like me, you lived on the Upper East Side.

        “Why is the 5 train filled with morons wearing Mets gear? GOD DAMN IT”

  13. Yankee’s suck…

  14. So they say that Steinbrenner already told Jesus to get a haircut.

    1. Mattingly, I thought I told you to trim those sideburns!

    2. He won’t be talking to Jesus where he’s going. He did, however, already fire Billy Martin as Hell’s manager.

  15. Free agents? Farm system? Winning? What are these things of which you speak?

    1. Fuck you, you spoiled Steelerfan fuck.

    2. I’ve been told they have a plan to avoid 20 consecutive losing seasons (they’re on the way to their 18th right now). The only part of it that seems to be working is spying on employees’ facebook pages and firing anyone who criticizes the team.

  16. I liked Letterman’s quote from years ago: he never fired a guy on Christmas, except once or twice.

  17. Didn’t do anything in the oughts? Fuck. I’m a Cubs fan. Yanks went to the series in ’01 and won it in ’09. What the fuck have we done other than fuck the fucking shit right the fuckity fuck up? (Fuck.)

    You want self-loathing, talk to a Cubs fan. EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE.

    1. I know somebody who thinks that the Cubs purposefully build teams to be good, not great. To be competitive enough to make it to the playoffs, but never win the big one.

      It sounds ridiculous, but it’s completely plausible. They’re top 5 in revenue. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to bring in some big name free agents that could’ve push them over the top in years passed.

      The losing is part of the allure. If they win… now what?

      1. That isnt a new theory and it doesnt even involve the Cubs building good teams. They sell out with bad teams, why build even a good one?

        1. Wrigley didn’t sell out regularly until 2003. When I was visiting my brother in Chi-town we never had a problem getting tickets at the box office a few hours before the game, as long as it wasn’t a weekend or a Cardinals game.

          But you are right that the “good but not great” theory is flawed. The Cubs appeared in the postseason three times in the second half of the 20th century. Playoff expectations are a creature of the Tribune Company’s death throes in the 00s.

      2. I can assure you this as a lifelong fan: the losing is not part of the allure (for lifers like me, at least). In ’03 when we lost game 6 (it was Alex Gonzalez booting the d-play ball that lost it, not fucking Bartman) I turned the TV off and sat in silence for well over an hour.

        I can see the allure of the “lovable loser” in people who aren’t from/related to Chicago, but the big appeal is Wrigley. The American Cathedral. That part of the city is just so spectacular. Nice folk all mingling to go to a timewarp of a stadium where you can watch a game from the 1930s. The organ. 7th inning stretch (which should be our national anthem).

        I’m in Korea and have to buy to watch games. I’m no longer subscribing. It’s too painful. It’s like watching a relative slowly die on life support.

        “Well. I guess it’s suicide again for me.”

    2. OTOH, your team didn’t move and immediately break their playoff curse like the former Houston O*lers. Cursed be their name. Fucking Bud Adams. When he kicks, I’m throwing a party.

  18. Forget baseball. Axe anyone in horse racing or ship building what they thought about Steinbrenner.

  19. I’m just happy the old bastard had to sit and fume as the Red Sox hung the biggest postseason choke in MLB history on the Yankees while he was still alive.

  20. Not once today did I hear anyone else mention that he got in trouble and got pardoned by Reagan.

  21. Why does Matt Welch hate America?

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