Greatest owner ever…? Hardly.
July 14, 2010 32 Comments
They say that money can’t buy happiness. Well try telling that to New York Yankee fans.
In 37 years under George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees won 7 World Series titles and 11 pennants. In 1973, Steinbrenner turned a $10 million investment into a franchise that is now worth an estimated $1.6 billion.
Following his death yesterday, the baseball world has been buzzing at the tragedy but also about the legend that is George Steinbrenner. Despite the fact that Steinbrenner made the Yankees into perennial contenders, there is much reason to believe why he should not be considered one of the greatest owners in the history of sports.
George Steinbrenner is probably best known to the casual sports fan for his outrageous spending on top flight players. But he is also well-known for his constant hiring and firings of his employees.
7 World titles in 37 years seems like a lot of championships, but when you think about it, with that much money being thrown around they probably should have had even more.
As I mentioned above, George Steinbrenner is not one to shy away from spending his money. To this day, the Yankees do not care about spending above the “salary cap” and paying a bit of a luxury tax. They are willing to trade money for championships and that is something that you have to give George Steinbrenner a lot of credit for. It is a path that should be taken more often by owners because what is really the difference between having $300 and $200 million?
It is frequently overlooked that the Yankees had a championship drought for 17 years (1979-1995), which goes to show that ludicrous spending and instability in a franchise is not always going to be the answer to winning championships.
If you look at the years when the Yankees started winning again, it was not just because they were buying all their players. It all started again when the front office decided that the Franchises insufficient development of talent through their system was not getting the job done, and it was time to start bringing up players through the minor league ranks.
Think about it, throughout the last 14 years there have been four core players that are still to this day high quality major league players. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada. What you have there is the four most important pieces of any team. You have a starting shortstop, starting pitcher, closer, and first-string catcher.
Those four guys have been a constant among the Yankees organization and are the primary reason why they have won so many championships. Let’s not forget Bernie Williams who was the starting center-fielder for the better part of ten years.
I do realize that the money that the Yankees are able to spend allow them to surround this nucleus of players with other star guys. When you get star players like Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Alex Rodriguez it is going to be difficult to lose, but the fact of the matter is that the Yankees had a core of guys that they could build around. The Yankees winning formula does not alone stem from George Steinbrenner and his massive spending ways, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
It’s not like the Yankees didn’t buy players when they weren’t winning championships. They brought in guys by the names of Ricky Henderson, Steve Sax, and Dave Winfield who were all unable to deliver the city of New York a championship.
Do you seriously think that Yankees are going to win the same amount of games without the best closer of all time or without the clutch play of Derek Jeter?
Speaking of stability, Joe Torre was only around for oh…11 years, which is the longest tenure for a manager during the George Steinbrenner era.
Contrast that to Steinbrenner’s first 23 seasons as Yankee owner where he changed managers a total of 20 times, which included Billy Martin being fired and rehired 5 times. He also switched general managers 11 times in 30 years. Please do not try to tell me that that kind of instability is not going to hurt a team.
What if you had an owner who had the exact same spending style as George Steinbrenner without all the craziness to go along with it? What if that same owner decided that he was not going to meddle in the affairs of his front office? What if this bizarro Steinbrenner was instead the owner of the New York Yankees?
What you would have is a New York Yankees franchise that would have, in those same 37 years, a greater than or equal amount of championships than the real George Steinbrenner has brought to the Big Apple.
George Steinbrenner may have done a lot of great things for the New York Yankees but he is by no means the greatest owner of all-time.
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