BOB: George Steinbrenner tributeby Brian Borawski
July 14, 2010
George Steinbrenner passes away at 80Whether you loved the New York Yankees or hated them, it’s hard to argue that few men had more of an impact on the game than owner George Steinbrenner. He passed away Tuesday after suffering a heart attack at his home in Tampa, Fla., after owning the Yankees for 37 years. He bought the team in 1973 for the princely sum of $8.7 million and he turned that into a billion dollar empire. During his tenure, the Yankees won seven World Series and he pushed forward the most expensive baseball stadium in the newer Yankee Stadium.
People tend to forget that when Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees, they were going through an unprecedented cold streak. From 1947 through 1964, the Yankees played in 15 World Series and won 10 of those. From 1965 through 1972, they didn’t play in a single World Series and they even finished in last place in 1966, which the team hadn’t done since they were the New York Highlanders back in 1912.
In Steinbrenner’s fourth season, the Yankees broke their World Series drought but lost to the Big Red Machine in 1976. They then won back-to-back World Series in 1977 and 1978 before Steinbrenner went on his own drought until he dominated the back end of the 1990s with four titles in five years.
Where Steinbrenner hits a home run is in the money department. The Yankees became a cash cow despite having the New York Mets in town. I often argued that the Yankees were good for baseball. I know people argued that the Yankees bought their championships, but what Steinbrenner created was special. He not only helped recreate the most popular team in baseball but created a team that people loved to hate. I know that when the Detroit Tigers were having their rough stretch in the early 2000s, the only time Comerica Park would be full outside of Opening Day was when the Yankees were in town.
Teams hated to play the Yankees, but I think a lot of owners secretly wished they could play the Yankees more because the gate usually went up considerably. Steinbrenner helped make the Yankees money, but he also helped every other team make more money.
Rangers auction on hold until AugustIt wouldn’t be a summer 2010 BOB Report without something on the Texas Rangers. The latest news out of Fort Worth has the bankruptcy judge pushing back the Rangers auction until Aug. 4. This comes after the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the owners of the team. The Greenberg group lobbied for an auction as quickly as possible. The team’s creditors were hoping to stretch things out to allow more competition to come forward.
The only real change to the auction is that now a rival group has to top Greenberg’s bid by just $15 million instead of the previously reported $20 million. The Greenberg group will still get its $15 million breakup fee if it's not the winning bidder.
Minor League Baseball tops last year’s paceThe gate has been tallied around the leagues and Minor League Baseball sold almost a million more tickets in 2010 then they did last year. In all, 21,453,678 tickets have been sold throughout MiLB and that’s almost 950,000 more than last year. Eleven of the 15 leagues saw increases in 2010 and the average attendance is just short of 4,000. You’ll see that average number come down because the short-season teams don’t draw as much, but you should see an accelerating overall attendance. The record is 43,263,740, set in 2008.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.
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