• Not All Yanks Fans Are Mourning Big Stein’s Passing

    Posted by on July 17th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    An interesting piece was in the Times yesterday regarding some fans who were not in favor of George Steinbrenner. Here’s a snip:

    The death of Mr. Steinbrenner on Tuesday has elicited fond remembrances and effusive tributes from Yankees fans outside the gates of the team’s stadium in the Bronx and throughout the region. The man known as the Boss was praised for bringing the struggling Yankees back to life in the 1970s and for rebuilding what has become one of the richest and most successful franchises in all of sports.

    But Mr. Steinbrenner’s death has sparked more complex emotions among a smaller, less visible demographic: Yankees fans who loved the team but hated Mr. Steinbrenner. Their outrage over his braggadocio, management style and even his politics drove them away from the team, and now that he is gone, they are looking at the Yankees in a new light and considering becoming fans once more.

    Life — as in baseball, as in death — is complicated, and though no one likes to speak ill of the dead, some of the people who came close to making exceptions this week in the case of Mr. Steinbrenner have been these Yankees fans, or former fans, or formerly former fans.

    New York and New Jersey residents’ relationships with their sports teams can be as nuanced and as perplexing as their relationships with their spouses, or former spouses for that matter. Lapsed Yankees fans coming to terms with Mr. Steinbrenner’s death are, as a result, an emotional, mixed-up lot. They talk of rushing home as children to turn on the television to watch Don Larsen pitch a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series, yet they have no problem rattling off Mr. Steinbrenner’s sins as well as any Red Sox fan might.

    Each had a personal “last straw.” For some, it was political: they were disgusted that Mr. Steinbrenner pleaded guilty in August 1974 to having made illegal contributions to the 1972 campaign of President Richard M. Nixon.

    For others, it was about Yankee Stadium: they said Mr. Steinbrenner was wrong to push for tearing down the old ballpark to build a new $1.5 billion stadium with public subsidies, and they hated his publicly articulated argument that the largely Latino neighborhood around the stadium was too dangerous for people to come to.

    Others said it was about baseball: they blamed him for trading players they loved, like pitcher David Wells, and never forgave him for firing Mr. Berra.

    “I would rather watch a team that struggles and gets to the World Series once in a while so that it means something, rather than feel like, ‘Well, we won because we bought all the best players,’ ” said Neil DeMause, 44, a former Yankees fan who lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

    I fully understand what DeMause is saying here. And, it is much, much, sweeter – at least to me – when a team like the ’76 Yankees reaches the World Series or when a team like the ’96 Yankees wins a World Series than it is when a team like the 2009 Yankees wins a World Series. And, while I still love going to Yankees games, I’m not in love with the present “experience” has become in attending games at the new Yankee Stadium – in terms of cost and having to witness the seating élitism that is practiced there now.

    And, in the past, during the ’70′s and ’80′s, I found myself – at times – not being pleased with Steinbrenner’s antics.

    So, I “get” what some are saying in this feature. But, times change. Steinbrenner changed a bit as he got older too. And, I am mourning his passing. I suppose some others just have a hard time of letting certain things go. And, that’s fine. I also have my own persistent feelings of resentment towards some things. We all do, don’t we?

    How about you? What’s your take on Yankees fans who were not fans of George Steinbrenner and who allowed that to influence how they thought about the team and how they now feel about his passing?

    Comments on Not All Yanks Fans Are Mourning Big Stein’s Passing

    1. redbug
      July 17th, 2010 | 10:36 am

      I couldn’t stand George. I started watching the Yanks in the early 60′s, so I watched his antics from the beginning. The endless hiring and firing of managers, his bullying of players and staff, his loudmouth bragging, his 2 suspensions, etc. It was embarassing to be a Yankee fan for many yrs because of him.

      I hate the new stadium. It was built on the backs of the State and City of New York and those of us who want to go see a game.

      Unlike the fans in the article you cited, I never stopped being a Yankee fan. I just wished he’d go away. I was thrilled, along w/ most fans at the time, that the 2nd suspension was supposed to be a lifetime one. I went through many years when I didn’t follow the team very closley. Like you, Steve, I’m not a fan of winning every yr due largely to out-spending everyone else. ’76 and ’96 were far and away my favorite titles.

      The only things that finally shut him up was the last suspension when Stick Michael was in charge in the early 90′s; Joe Torre handling of the team and media and the WS wins; and finally, George’s declining health.

      I didn’t wish him ill but I was glad for the silence it created. His son Hank is just as obnoxious as George was in his prime. Loudmouthed and just as prone to stupid deals (Arod). Who knows how he’ll affect the team going forward.

      So no, I don’t mourn his death. I’m sorry for those who cared for him. But, I’m sorry that his legacy of insisting that not winning the WS every yr is considered a failure will remain for the foreseeable future.

    2. Garcia
      July 17th, 2010 | 11:57 am

      Not going to speak on Big Stein’s death, I know he wasn’t loved by a lot of people. Though, he did some great things too. He’s a complex man, bottom line.

      What I will talk about is what DeMause said, and what you, Steve, wrote:

      I agree that having a team that’s an underdog is an awesome story, but once you win, once people get the taste of winning then it becomes a “keep winning at any cost mentality”. Basically, you become a victim of your own success (i.e Red Sox and their fanbase now). However, that doesn’t cause me to hate my team or become indifferent to any of the teams that win under those conditions (i.e the 2009 Yankees).

      In an ideal world, I would love for the Yankees to be a team everyone would love, not a team where fans of other teams love to hate, but a team that wins all the time the “right way” – whatever the eff that means anyway.

      But that’s just stuff to make feel people feel good. The world is not made up that way. The Yankees play in the biggest media market in the country, they generate a lot of revenue, they win a lot, have a lot of history, and they are defined by the plethora of championships they’ve won. I can’t change any of those things.

      If it bugs me THAT much then I’ll go root for a team that wins every 5 – 10 years, if such a team even exists. Please, can someone tell me which team that is? The thing is, if we were to move the Yankees to Kansas City then they would behave the same way.

      I love how people want to make it sound that if the human beings that comprise their team’s ownership and their fans, how they would behave so differently if they were in the Yankees shoe’s. They wouldn’t and I guarantee it.

      Look at google, they were considered the anti-microsoft, they really care to do the right thing unlike MS, they support open source, they wouldn’t keep track of whom is searching for what, blah, blah, google has gotten so big now and they are trying to jump on the bandwagon of every new emerging technology, it is not because they are nice that they do that, it’s because they want to be #1. They are still a good company but their values have changed as they’ve become more successful, but they aren’t any nicer or any better than every other big corporation.

      The bottom line is, I root for the Yankees, I want them to win as much as possible. I don’t want them to be nice and care about other teams winning, too. Leave that stuff for kindergartners on a playground, those teachers care about all that jazz. Life, however, is not like that. Sh|t rolls downstream for a reason, nothing I can ever do to change that. That’s reality.

    3. Raf
      July 17th, 2010 | 2:05 pm

      I don’t mind people hating Steinbrenner, the Yankees, whatever… Just wish that their hate was based in some sort of reality. The Yanks have always bought players. Before the draft and after the draft. They more often than not taken high salaried players off the hands of other teams. That’s how they built their first dynasty, buying players that the Red Sox sold off. They were set to buy Vida Blue from the A’s. Buying Sabathia, Teix and Burnett is simply continuing a time honored tradition :)

      Was Steinbrenner a tool? Sure. He did a lot of nice things too. I didn’t root for the Yankees because of Steinbrenner, I rooted for them because of guys like Winnie, Willie and Rickey. Steinbrenner was just a distraction, and I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t be like the rest of the owners and let his baseball people run the show.

      I can understand the “hate” coming from fans of other teams. But until the owners of those other teams were willing to invest in their team like Steinbrenner did, they all can have a nice cold glass of STFU. Could you imagine Steinbrenner taking a payoff to contract the Yankees like Carl Pohlad tried? Every other MLB team could’ve signed a deal similar to the one the Yankees signed with Adidas. Several could’ve started their own regional sports network. Several more could’ve signed developmental deals, or some sort of partnerships with NPB or any of the other leagues around the world. But they didn’t. They’d rather complain. That’s fine, and within their rights, but I’m not going to listen. These clowns lost me when they complained that they needed new stadiums so that they can keep up with the Yankees. Little did these fools know that sooner or later, the Yankees were going to get their own stadium. On top of all the deals they already had in place (Addidas, MSG, YES) it was a license to print money.

      No one can stop the Yankees, and you can’t even hope to contain them. The rest of MLB needs to stop hating and step their game up.

    4. July 17th, 2010 | 2:15 pm

      I called “nonsense” on these “fans’” complaints, and has doubts most of them were ever Yankee fans in the first place. Like “Neil DeMause, 44, a former Yankees fan who lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.”

      And guess what? The Times acts as if he’s just some fed-up Yankee fan. He’s not. He’s a writer, and the author of the anti-new stadium book “Field of Schemes.” In a blog post on his personal web site entitled “Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” he writes this:

      “My defining memory of The Boss — aside from the three decades he spent whining about being forced to play in a renovated Yankee Stadium, ultimately leading to the $2 billion Catastrophe by the Concourse — will forever be the night in the late ’80s when my friend Emi helped hand out placards to fans in the right-field bleachers that, when held aloft mid-game, spelled out “F-I-R-E G-E-O-R-G-E.”

      But, but, I thought his complaint was that he “would rather watch a team that struggles and gets to the World Series once in a while so that it means something, rather than feel like, ‘Well, we won because we bought all the best players.” Which one is it, dude?

    5. Evan3457
      July 17th, 2010 | 2:22 pm

      I stand by what I said about George here: http://tinyurl.com/38zgh6u

      I can’t do any better than that.

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